Groove Salad Odyssey

Friday night in the groove. Hanging in a totally clean living space this fine summer evening here in NoIST (north Istanbul for all you acronym neophytes. Total was a spiritual purge you could say.  I poured my spirit into cleaning my space. I believe this is an annual thing for me at this point.

 Let me explain; each year I return to  my Amerikan Summer experience and before I go, I purge the cobwebs of my life that have been collecting for the past year. It's always a comfort, I guess, because I know I am about to venture off for a while. It's like dropping off out of my normal reality to go back to what once was my normal reality- which is now abnormal unreality! Ahhh how I love to flow in and out of these dimensions I've created.

In honor of this achievement I opened up a bottle of Retsina from my recent outing on Kos and sat out in the backyard at sunset with some friends and a little help from Da Kine. It was a good day indeed. Now I'm listening to a little Groove Salad mix on SomaFM & contemplating my upcoming outing to Portugal.

It's interesting in that I am now finding that returning to places I've previously visited to check it out more rhythmically is my thing. Familiar faces and familiar places... I like it. It's good to be a global citizen. All this I ponder as I sit on my bed and taking in my clean living space! Now a super fly funky rhythm is floating through me; Groove Salad giving me my dose just like I like it.

The weather is heating up here in Istanbul. Outside of quite a bit of extensive travel this year, paired with some long working hours (no complaints here), I'm feeling in the groove living here experiencing my first summer of of my first year living in Istanbul!  Major accomplishment. On my spiritual cleanse today I do admit that I needed the air conditioner on for most all of the afternoon... Certainly nothing like living in the Middle East though, so I do feel like a bit of a pansy for having to turn on the cold box when it was under 40º C.

Fast-forward to Saturday morning at 9:08 am.  Sami Bey has just woke me up; imagine thinking you are waking up on your own and find a big, hairy... CAT staring you down and sniffing you... Such is life.

I remember receiving a S.O.S. (text) late last night from Da Kine. Next thing I know we are walking along the Bosphorus at midnight laughing. While sitting on a bench along the waterfront corniche I happened to notice this big, bulging orangish-yellow sphere coming out from under some dark cloud cover.  What happened the next few minutes was jaw-dropping- for us at least :)

The moon was spying on us along our Bosphorus odyssey. Hide-and-seek, peek-a-boo, and all those childhood games remembered, we delighted in the events that seemed a display for our eyes only. Good shit I tell you... As our eyes drank in enough of this wondrous display, we got up to meander through 'man-alley' (where LOADS of men are playing cards and drinking çay late night in an alleyway littered with smoke-filled çay-meyhanes, men, dogs, cats, as well as a smattering of females strewn about randomly, the man in the moon had other plans for us; he didn't want us to depart just yet.  We should admire his peacock-display a little longer. He attempted to intoxicate us with more displays of his finery, and we were tempted and then drawn back in- drawn back into his web of intrigue for a few last lingering moments, but eventually descended into the maze of 'man-alley' for one last moving picture show on our odyssey.


Stunning Sunday

Stunning Sunday shall this be named; sunny, breezy, sky-blue.,


In the bahçe.(garden) where I live in post-run bliss. Village cats lazing about. Bushes swaying in sync with a light, steady Bosphorus breezes streaming sea smells along on its journey. Sun radiating through a clear, blue sky. The kind of sky that you remember as a child on a special-for-no-reason kinda day when you experienced this same scene and had some amazing, monumental thought pulsing through your being concerning life in that moment.

Looking skyward, pollen floats down in some random yet perfectly orchestrated kind of way in sync with whispering trees; neighbors. I can hear their sounds; sounds of glee and joyful exhalations.

Perhaps the trees are sharing their stories. Looking menacingly, they tower above the Greek Orthodox church below my space. These two have been neighbors for a long time.  I’m sure they have had plenty harmonious times together, as well as grieving… because, well you know.  You know those events that happened long ago, back when the Ottoman Empire was finally crushed and out sprang the Turkish Republic. Yea, those events which aren’t talked about much…

What a history, this area.  I do not know many things about my space, but stories begin to unfold.  I feel like when the locals see you around enough, they start to open you up to their lives. I am becoming a part of this community, however small.  Feels good. Feels familiar. I love the börek workers down on the corner.  The guys always smiling and eager to talk Turkish with me, patiently. The “bing-bong” (I think Vicky coined that phrase for the Turkish version of the dollar-store so popular throughout middle America) store people. The many fruit and vegetable vendors, The Büyükdere çiçek (flower shop) family. The laid-back young couple that run the Simas Cafe, with their tres-cool broken down old, black VW Van that peacefully rests at their front door, letting us types know that their establishment is funky and unique and down-home so come on in and chill. It’s not a trendy cafe, such as there are in Cihangir, Tophane, Kadiöy, Karaköy, etc.The closest it’s going to come to ‘the real deal’ in my book, yet still expensive for a beer…There are no hipsters in Büyükdere- that you can be sure of!

 And then there’s the Büyükdere durum guy and his family; his wife always smiles as she carefully closes my poşet (to-go bag). We exchange business and acquaintance that ebbs and flows slowly into familiarity with each passing encounter. Admittedly, I don’t order durum very much… once a month at the most, and not really even that. The çay bahçe guy, that I meet my friends at. We go there nearly every chance we can get in these days. Not because the çay is good, it is in fact horrible, but because of the setting: on the Bosphorus backwaters, with a backdrop of surrounding tea gardens along with a small park and many, many cats as well as a pack of lazy street dogs.

Our favorite table used to be right on the small village boat docks (that takes small boats underneath the sahil yolu (coast road) to the grandiose Bosphorus itself, whose waters escort nations from afar in their vessels, selling their wares (oil, etc.) to their destinations. Now though, there is a foul smell down along the water so we have moved alongside other tea-drinking outdoor enthusiasts. I love looking at the wooden planks running to the massive tangle of humble boats. Cats running along them, jumping onto/into the boats.

Whether I’m running, walking, waiting for the service bus in the mornings, having cocktails at (on) Kasif Bar with the girls, or simply sitting on a bench along the corniche, I adore watching the ships as they pass.  If I’m running, I sometimes playfully race alongside these giants. Being a mere mortal, this always ends not in my favor.

Sometimes I get consumed with the almost science-fiction nature of these encounters. Another encounter, though, is the dichotomy of Sunday Sounds; I’m awakened sometimes by early morning call to prayer, fall back to sleep and re-awaken to church bells goading me out of my slumber once and for all.  Both sounds are equally jarring- not necessarily in a negative way as its so temporary.  Just a reminder that they are reminders to their faithful to come to prayer.

My mind draws towards the birdsong. A type of call and response is what I make of it; like a B-Boy avian battle. Or mating…

What makes today so special?  Nothing really. Just an ordinary day in this city I fought so long and hard to secure a zip code in.  A city against all odds I say.  2015 was a horrible year to move back to Turkey; politics, economy, neighboring conflict (WAR) being the trifecta of heavy hitters.

There is a LIVE jazz concert going on right now.  I’ve been listening for a while to these background sounds, but just realized, when I heard the clapping, that there is some type of concert- either at the church in their garden, or at Fuat Pasha Yali (expensive boutique hotel/restaurant where people get married a lot) here in the hood.

So yea, when I left Gaziantep nearly 3 years earlier I couldn’t possibly imagine that the economy could get any worse. My bad… This country, this city, has charmed me, but not in such a way that is all-idyllic.  Right away I was thrown into the realities of dwelling here. A torrid romance *love/hate* it is. I love how moody this city is. My challenge is adapting so I continue to learn my lessons.

My tent is set up here in the garden right now. It’s been a while since it’s been in use so a basic maintenance and upkeep session was necessary- before use next week.

NOTE: The ‘live jazz session’ is also turning into the requisite cheesy emoting type… Popolo- a long-time yard kitty I met when I had just moved in here and she was just a kitten. She has, somehow, managed to NOT get pregnant, whereas all the other kitties from this era I see preggers on the street- is paying me a visit. She remembers me and my kitty ‘cat-u-pressure’ rubs!

What I mean to say is that one’s ‘scene’ has to be to their groove. I really dig this scene. How long I can’t say, but for now it’s pretty groovy. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Groovy next scene coming up is: backpacking/camping the Turkish Aegean and Mediterranean coast next week for ten days. After that there is the Portugal scene.  That scene will be super-groovy as Solo_Ojo and I reunite and chatter up a storm. After that there is the Hawaii scene! Then the Oregon scene, and the Michigan scene, etc…

So next week’s plan is to fly into Alanya and make my way to Bodrum, then catch a ferry over to (Greek) Kos Island to visit Dean and family. It’s been a few years- maybe 3-plus years. From Antalya, Kaş is the goal in sight, which is quite close. I’m really looking forward to pitching my tend on the beach and just chilling. As town is my favorite place in Turkey perhaps. It is in danger of being overdeveloped, which is sad.  I’ve seen what has been happening to Maui for 25 years. Not a pretty sight- over development for tourism. Maui is still home, but it gets more and more foreign each trip back.

Being that this is Turkey there will likely be overdevelopment of the butt-ugly kind.  So many beautiful spots in coastal Turkey are already ruined by unchecked over-development.

But I digress…
my ideal scene right now is a camping-on-the-beach scene. Soul satisfying is my goal. My soul needs some salt and sand. Books, beaches, cold beers, early morning runs out to the peninsula. All this is MY Kaş. Stoked.