We talk about time in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years.
There are dates to some of our best memories and the worst. First kiss, first anniversary, and convocation, breakups, deaths and milestones. We define our lives with time, probably without realising how each second alive, is time deconstructed in itself. Fleeting, evolving, infinite. We try to give it structure so our days can be mapped down on Google calendar. But, time doesn’t know any boundaries. It goes on like a train with an unpredictable end and brings the most random stops in between this joyous journey of life, that tend to define our lives.
One of my stops was/is Turkey.
The time I spent in Turkey was lived so fully, it can not be defined by 4 weeks. Every second made me richer in knowledge, language, taste buds, and bonds. I had just wanted an easy something in my life for a while. After the few years I’ve had filled with stress, unwanted changes and losses & Ollie’s death, I just wanted a slice of easy. To many, travelling alone for a month seems intimidating, scary, entertainment-less, but for me, this was my playground. As if this was the only sport I’ve ever known and loved. And while there were moments, when I was very close to scoring a goal and failed miserably, I still feel like a winner. Because this game touched my heart, I did my best and I am going home with a bag full of memories (or souvenirs that will hopefully not break in transit).
The day I landed in Turkey, I messaged my partner, “Baby, this is it. This is what I’ve been wanting for so long.” And mind you, this was a very last minute trip. My flights were expensive, so was my visa, but in my heart, it just felt like the right thing to do. I were to flee to Turkey for a month and let its beauty encapsulate me. I hadn’t known a lot about Turkey before, but I took 10 days to obsess over it, read everything I can find and swallow it whole. The Turkish-English writer Elif Shafak had made her contributions too. It was the first time I read about Galata Tower, the Bosporus strait, the time when the bridge was inaugurated between the Asian and the European side, and the Hairy Kafka Street. Istanbul, it had to be. Turkey, it had to be.
I’ve felt Istanbul’s pace, its crumbling history, its peaceful corners and its warm hug, all at the same time. I’ve been amazed at how beautifully an entire town preserves its roots, in Safranbolu, only so people from around the world can see it too. I’ve swam in the unforgivingly cold Black Sea at the shore of a coastal town called Amasra and experienced the rainy Trabzon that Arabs love so much. I’ve seen its green villages, age old arch bridges and plateaus in Rize and devoured every view I saw. I’ve spent a day emotionally drained over the abandoned city of Ani which is so close to the Armenian border yet feels so far, it pierces your soul. I’ve seen a Kurdish family make cheese inside a sack made of sheep skin and prepare for a - 50 degree winter. I’ve crossed East Anatolia on a 29 hour train journey; the gorgeous views absolutely etched in my memory. I’ve stayed with the nicest couple in Bursa who showed me kindness when I was helpless. And, I’ve been 97 kilometers away from the capital of Syria in Gaziantep. I’ve found a castle in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea in Mersin and hiked the valleys of Cappadocia, mostly in the presence of 60 million year old rocks.
I’ve still not had enough yet I feel too full.
There’s honour in the way life is lived, and there’s poverty too; there’s pride in the present and a mental eraser for its gruesome past. There are fields of pomegranates, olives and pistachios; tea gardens, cold deserts and historical ruins; crystal clear waters, caves and mountains. There’s nothing like Turkey and there possibly, never will be.
Usually, while bidding adieu, I’m teary eyed for I never know when I’m going to see a place and its people again. But today, as I make my way to the airport to take a flight to another country, I know, in the deepest corners of my heart that this isn’t goodbye.
The next time I come, I’d have learnt Turkish and will be able to hold a conversation without Google Translate’s help. The next time, I’d pack better and get gifts for my friends I’m leaving where I found them. The next time, I’d bring my loved ones to show them how Turkey is so much more than what they’ve thought of it throughout.
I’m in love. And I’ll show it to the world, fearlessly, continuously and forever.
With the lightest heart, I leave you today. For you gave me exactly what I was looking for.