Tag Archives: Turkey

How to Make Ruins Fun

After touring a large number of sites in the Middle East, many not much more than a ‘significant’ pile of rock their father identified along some barren stretch of highway, my two children, boys ages 9 and 11, had this to say:  “Just because it’s old, dad, doesn’t mean it’s interesting.”

So, how, as a parent (and an enthusiast of archeology and other ‘old’ stuff) could I keep them interested?

For this, I stumbled on a wonderful recipe and will share it now with all other like-minded parents who face the challenge of touring citadels and other crumbly things while keeping children in tow.

First, take one pile of old stones, like, for instance:

Amphitheater at Tlos, Turkey.

Next, add one small (but hopefully very quick and wily) lizard.

The Lizard.

Then, applying the wisdom of age and keen observation, father (or other parent), will notice lizard, take excellent close-up photo for later use in blog entry, then steathily indicate its presence to bored progeny.

The speedy little bugger hid behind the crumbled ruins of some nice Roman stairs.

Bake for 35 minutes, during which time father might enjoy, at his leisure and without harassment, the majesty of associated ruins and the gorgeous backdrop of nearby Turkish mountains.  Children scamper after lizard.

Scamper, scamper.

End result?  A rather NQR sort of entertainment, but happy kids and happy dad.

Younger son, 'permitted' to hold the Lizard by his brother. NOTE: this photo was actually taken at the Jerash ruins in Jordan. The Tlos lizard conducted a successful evasion. Nevertheless, the principle remains unerringly valid.


Odd Angels on High

For those of us around the world — Christian, Muslim, Jewish, even atheist — there is one shared conception from this Holiday Season that has undergone little debate but has left a lot of room for popular imagination:  angels.

Growing up in a very Protestant Christian environment where the frenetic reach of mass marketing intrudes even into the most sacred of objects, I became accustomed to one particular image or ‘idea’ of what an angel should be:  white, fluffy, well-preened feathers, golden halo, usually Caucasian in appearance, holding a harp, sporting a few other little daubs of golden accessories, like a trumpet, and perhaps wearing a neatly-pleated toga of some sort.  Very clean and white-washed and harmless.  Angels of this sort appear everywhere in the USA — on the topmost boughs of Christmas trees, suspended from streetlights along the main thoroughfares in many little heartland hometowns, adorning the covers of greeting cards, even making appearances in films like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “City of Angels.”

So, when I read in one of my guidebooks that I would find frescoes of angels — four huge seraphim dating to the 4th Century AD — on each of the main arches inside the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul (which had once, for more than a millenia, been the primary church of the Eastern Orthodox sect of Christianity, much like St. Paul’s Cathedral for Catholicism in Rome) my mind immediately latched onto this image of fluffy happiness.

But that idea was completely, utterly mistaken.

What I found inside the Hagia Sophia turned out to be downright weird, if not frightening.  But, in a way, this sort of angel seems much more real, much more like the type of messenger commonly noted to have stricken fear into the hearts of the Prophets to whom the angels came as messengers of God.  Ezekiel, Abraham, Moses, and many more right up to and including Muhammad — all who encountered angels report a sense of terror and numbness at seeing or being in their presence.

So, maybe it’s our plastic and lily-white conception of an angel that is Not Quite Right while this frightening and disembodied mass of shifting feathers painted 1500 years ago more closely represents the truth —

An angel inside the Hagia Sophia.

 


Turkeys in Turkey

Do two rights make a Not Quite Right?  That’s the question today, as we head into this wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend of family togetherness and feasting.

You'll just have to take my word for it: this picture WAS taken in the country of Turkey!

Turkey and Turkeys.

We chanced on these two beautiful specimens in the city of Ulu Deniz, on the south Mediterranean coast of the country of Turkey, while parking our car just off the downtown beachside boardwalk.  This was the ONLY time we ever saw turkeys ANYWHERE in the Middle East or Africa.  It was almost meant to happen, meant to be, the two gobblers strolling into view when our camera was ready.

It answers that ages-old grade school question, or giggle-worthy joke, about whether Turkeys come from Turkey.

Right now, at this time of year, its certainly comforting to think about both items:  the warm beaches in the mouthwateringly-named country and the warm, tender roast of bird that will soon find its way onto my plate.


9/11 Prayer Rug?

During the past year of travels throughout the Middle East and North Africa I have rarely seen or felt any sort of threat, whether personal or against Americans in general.  There have been, of course, moments of ‘mistranslation’ or of misunderstanding.  Those are the things I try to point out in this blog.  Not only the incorrect application of American terms and customs and norms, but also the reverse.

Prayer rug found in the souq near Ankara's main fortress.

This particular snapshot, though, which I took when my family sat for a lovely late afternoon meal in a cafe near the old fortress hill in Ankara, Turkey, gave me the willies.  It’s exactly the type of thing that most Americans fear they might see and, because of that fear, probably interpret in the wrong way.  Certainly my first thoughts on seeing this rug were that someone intended it as a celebration of the 9/11 attacks.  But, on closer inspection, it doesn’t seem to be a celebration at all.  Yet it doesn’t quite make sense.  Who would buy something like this?

In the end, I think its just prominently Not Quite Right.