bombings in Istanbul

I’ve been oblivious to news for a little while… but then I noticed this SMH article about bombings in Istanbul just days after I left that city. How terrible to have Kurdish tensions on this level on top of the already tense political situation where Turkey’s well established secularism is being deeply challenged by religious fundamentalism.

It’s a weird thing for me personally… not long after I left Jerusalem there was an awful bulldozer attack and recently another copycat one. Then I leave Istanbul and there’s bombings killing 16 and injuring 154 people. I feel lucky not to be involved and to be living in a wonderful, peaceful and prosperous country without any significant violent streak or atrocious conflict in it.

Yet it’s terribly unsettling and awful… I now have a slightly better understanding of the underlying forces and their strength in both cases… and the terrible thing is the closer you see it from the more depressing it gets… in Jerusalem I came to understand better just how unsolvable the Israeli conflict is. This insight shatters my deepest trust in our Enlightenment heritage: that rationality and understanding will somehow help humanity get closer to a more logical and peaceful state of being.

I understand why so many of my friends turn off the news, I do the same now and prefer to read the Guardian Weekly once a week instead and read analysis only. What else can you do when there’s nothing to do?

Barcelona… illness then fun :)

Barcelona… illness then fun :)

Have been really struggling with hardcore illness for a week now. For days I felt half dead, some days I could barely walk or breathe at all. My new auto-immune disease is pounding away at me causing extreme fatigue, strong pain of various kinds and weird symptoms.

My legs became worse again prompting me to make international calls to my doctors… hope to find out my final test results soon. But today somehow I got markedly better… still ill but now I can enjoy some activities without the threat of collapsing, getting seizures or not being able to breathe. At least for a few hours anyway. I know, most people take this for granted, but I can’t at the moment…

Craig and Tiff went out last night and only came home late this morning to crash for the whole day (party shots reveal some deliciously wild activities 🙂 at least they can indulge in these for now)… so I spent a whole night and day by myself, doing lots of tasks and then going for a 3-hour walk around La Ribera! That’s quite an amazing achievement for me. Bought some summer dresses, took shots, talked to locals (my Spanish is non-existent but I’m shameless enough to try anyway) and soaked it all in 😀

Yesterday Craig and I hired a cute mini car and drove around with the help of a very cute GPS system that directs you as well as talks to you about all things local. We went to Park Guell which was wonderfully bent and looked at various Gaudi landmarks. Had the greasiest and most expensive meal out and enjoyed getting around freely. The only drawbacks were atrocious pollution (you are in an open car at exhaust level in a highly polluted city), scorching temperatures and my illness which meant that our journey ended in yet another health crisis. I still loved it though, we had so many fun moments and Craig was the cutest mini-car driver 🙂

Now I’m at home nibbling on cherries, figs and peaches.. yumm. Just waiting for Craig and Tiff to get up and we can go for dinner.

I’m really looking forward to the Hungarian leg of my journey from Thursday… I’ll be resting for that one 🙂

Barcelona

Barcelona

It’s hot, it’s beautiful and we have a gorgeous little downtown apartment with a backyard and internet. I haven’t seen much yet though as I’ve been really sick.

3 days of pushing through hardcore illness in Istanbul has pushed me back into atrocious bronchitis, fatigue, fever, seizures and auto-immune reactions. My legs got worse but now that I’m resting again it’s improving… I’m taking lots of meds, sleeping lots, eating lots (stopped losing weight now) and chilling lots… and improving slowly.

I’m here with Craig and Tiff. Tiff is running around by herself a lot but Craig would really love more able-bodied companionship outdoors (been great re-connecting one-on-one though!). I’m frustrated and tired and angry that I can’t do this more and that I have to keep on suffering and losing opportunities.

Despite this we have been out a few times on walks, cafes, dinner, walking through endless tiny streets around La Rambla, Catalunya Square and surrounds. It’s a gorgeous place with amazing architecture and a wonderful vibe. Hope to get to see a bit more in the coming days as I’m getting a bit better… gotta get a massage and get some food now…

Tram, walks and ferry… night in Kadiköy with Volky & Ilçin :)

Tram, walks and ferry… night in Kadiköy with Volky & Ilçin :)

Had such an interesting day today! Spent time walking around taking pictures in the city and riding the cute red tram on Istiklal. When walking down to the water in the humid hot weather I collapsed in a really awful coughing fit (bronchitis from chest infection). A nice woman brought me Turkish tea and as I took time to recover I sat on a milk crate watching men play backgammon. Soon lots of kids gathered around me… no common language but still lots of fun 🙂 Was great observing street life too… there’s a lot of it!

Caught the ferry to Kadiköy where Volkan picked me up… we had tea overlooking the bay and eventually dinner with Ibçin in tow. They showed me their cool neighbourhood that has almost as many bars and cafes as buildings 🙂 We ended up at their place swapping music, stories and videos, nibbling on fruit and talking lots… I so didn’t want to leave but had to come home for a short sleep til my flight to Barcelona later this morning.

It’s a bit sad to be leaving Istanbul… but it’ll be so good to be re-united with Craig in Barcelona and joining him and Tiff for some more summer fun together 🙂

More photos and posts… when I have time and a Spanish internet connection 🙂

Sultanahmet & random adventures

Sultanahmet & random adventures

The day started in a slightly surreal tone… having a theoretical discussion over breakfast with an American historian on the political economy and culture of organisations. How random. He was tedious and narcissistic but it was great to have an intellectual conversation… I often feel under siege (or get apathy, which is worse?) as a sociologist in Australia and it’s delightful how I can connect with scholars in any surrounding disciplines in any other part of the world. Gives you back some hope and respect that Australia regularly takes away (I love my home country but in this regards it really sucks!! Sociologists are regarded somewhere between complex yet useless gits and garbage collectors I think).

Spent the whole day running around in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul… the city is really noisy and chaotic for my taste and I’m enjoying the onslaught… then take time out for a cup of sage tea 🙂

Caught the bus and trams and managed to only go into one mosque, which is an achievement as Sultanahmet has the highest concentration of mosques! They are imposing, truly magnificent in architectural beauty and disconcerting when considered in the current local political climate that is being pushed to the religious right. I was taken back by Volkan and Ibcen’s comments on how the secular achievements of Turkey are being eroded and taken away. That makes me very sad.

The underground cistern was beautiful and the grand bazaar was wonderfully colourful and disorienting. For a sociologist who is a tourist it poses a dilemma… do you get lost in the million delightful details as a shopper or do you observe all the details of the everyday life of sellers which is fascinating. Of course you do both! The bazaar is a shopper’s dream and an ethnographer’s playground.

What’s more I didn’t get lost at all! Volkan’s idea of watching the slant/lie of the land (the floor of most of the bazaar slightly slants) plus visually mapping the types of roads in my head helped… but it’s a challenge as the distractions are formidable! Yumm 😉

Been getting so many offers from men, it’s becoming rather entertaining… some are nasty and aggressive but some are quite funny and creative… you gotta give points for that! I’ve been offered sex, drugs and rock’n’roll in various combinations. Some even offered to deliver my choice of drugs to me before no doubt moving onto the other activities. Being bisexual is met with either complete lack of comprehension or curiosity… and you know I just have to enjoy those funny moments of revelation… both parties get some hilarity and novelty value out of these interactions I’m sure.

I’m still very ill… my bronchitis/lung infection is so bad I’d never heard another human being produce such awful sounds before… nose, ears, fever, all happening around the clock. I feel so proud of being able to get out and enjoy the city… but it’s probably bad for my health… so I’m having a short massage tomorrow… and lots of adacai or sage tea which is everwhere. Of course the most important bit is massive doses of antibiotics.

Craig sent me details of our Barcelona apartment for Thu… Craig’s in Barcelona now with Tiff… can’t wait to be re-united with them both!! Should be great fun, the 3 of us discovering the city 🙂

PS: my legs are getting a bit worse again from lack of rest… gotta be very careful and rest if I can… bit scary to think it could all get worse again.

PS2: photos…. first is in Sultanahmet mosque, second at a cafe, third in the underground cistern… crappy camera and no tripod, just some simple tricks! 😉