Day with Volkan and Ilçin

Day with Volkan and Ilçin

Mmm had a well deserved and much needed 12 hour sleep… then had a walk in Taksim today… soaking up some Istanbul sunshine and opening my mind and senses to what’s around.

Have been very sick with a chest infection and developed the most terrible bronchitis (plus sinus and middle-ear infection, I always get the fucking works!) and was worrying about running out of antibiotics in a few days. Fortunately had the good sense of walking into a pharmacy and asking for advice about doctors. Showed them the medication I’m on and they told me they can sell it without a script!! This is like a bloody miracle for me… the exact same drug… this is such a boost for me psychologically… I couldn’t really go on, let alone travel, without it! This set the most cheerful mood for today!!! :)

Volkan and Ibçin showed up early afternoon and took me to the area of the Ortaköy Mosque near the great Bosphorus bridge. We sat for hours in 32C sipping tea, getting to know each other, talking lots, going for strolls along the sea and taking photos :) It’s been so good to have such varied and wonderful discussions with 2 very beautiful, smart and evolved people!! With their help I hatched a plan for my next (and only :( 2 days here.

Managed to learn some Turkish pronounciation (how fun!!) and now I have a much better idea about Istanbul. I feel lucky to have had such great company!

Now I’m exhausted and will crawl to bed :)

Istanbul

Istanbul

After a long and arduous journey I’m finally in Istanbul… very sick with a cold (the whole works: sinus, ears, throat, lungs) and very sleep deprived… but the weather’s perfect and I now finally have internet in my room… yay!

It’s so weird being back in summer and it’ll take me a while to get used to the hardcore ogling that men do here… any shier person might be intimidated out of their skull. Europeans do it too but usually not quite so aggressively (well, I’m yet to see Spain!) and you don’t end up feeling quite so much like an object to be devoured or used. Yuck (what was the line from Cunning Minx? I like being objectified on my own terms!). I’d much rather just be treated as an equal person (OK OK it doesn’t neccesarily mean you aren’t treated equally)… sure being noticed can be nice, but I don’t actually give a rat’s arse about (most) men so I could completely live without it… bring on the Turkish lesbians I say!! :P

Hope to get a nice long sleep now and be up for something more tomorrow… only 3 days here and I want to soak it up! :)

Hope to see Volkan tomorrow… I could do with a bit of guidance! In the meantime I’m learning just how much Turkish and Hungarian share… lots of words and a fair bit of pronounciation… all the easier for me… here I come long Turkish words, you don’t intimidate me! :P

Oh and it’s funny, because of my look people assume I’m local… not sure I can learn Turkish in 3 days so will have to work it out :P

I luuuuurve the red trams, they are so cute… lucky for me I’m right next to Istiklal Cadessi.

WYD-ed out

WYD-ed out

World Youth Day.. an arrogant and misleading name for a whole week of purely Catholic events (obviously non-Catholic youth do not count as youth.. we must be subhuman?). It’s happening to Sydney right now and it’s apparently the second largest event this year after the Olympics.

It’s been a plague on Sydney in more ways than one.

First of all taxpayers paid millions of dollars to stage the event and the expenses are unlikely to be recouped. The argument that this is good for NSW tourism and business is most likely false. A false economy.

Secondly we have huge road closures practically immobilising the city for days. So far officials have been handling this well but the damage remains. Here in Randwick it’s especially bad. Tomorrow morning up to 500.000 pilgrims are descending on my suburb while I’ll have to try to get to the airport. My local hospital is half shut down because of WYD and this means I still have no diagnosis of my illness. Thank you for disabling our health system too!

Thirdly our Christian-friendly federal government has been treating its citizenry badly, coming up with new anti-annoyance laws that were aimed to prevent protest. A few days ago the High Court watered down the bill but the intimidation and the vague threat remains. This incident is a bad reminder that separation of Church and State are not as well maintained as it should be in a secular democracy.

On top of this there’s a huge amount of Christian propaganda that we have to put up with. We are asked to be tolerant… towards a Church that is highly intolerant. Intolerant of queers, intolerant of sexual freedom, intolerant of a modern lifestyle and franky intolerant of anyone not Christian. Why should we be tolerant towards such an institution?

Our prime minister Kevin Rudd opened WYD with nauseating words that no secular prime minister should ever utter. He told pilgrims that they were the light in the age of darkness and that they’ll bring hope to the world.

I couldn’t disagree more. I think the Catholic church is the darkness in an age of Enlightenment, freedom and modernity. It is a dangerous dogmatic and repressive force that wreaks havoc in the world.

It brings bigory and oppression wherever it has any power. In Africa the Catholic church is responsible for many AIDS deaths by severely opposing condom use, in Western countries priests have caused immeasurable damage to countless people by abusing them as children and until recently have been standing in the way of social progress and liberation on most fronts. In the USA Christians of most types work on making abortion illegal and inaccesible. Catholic priests have aided genocide in Rwanda and the Pope only apologised recently for his church’s role in the Holocaust.

No doubt there are many beautiful and even progressive people in the Catholic church and no doubt spirituality has its benefits for some, but the Catholic church doesn’t seem to have many redeemable qualitites and a monster of an event like WYD is the manifestation of lots of things wrong with the church.

Why are Sydneysiders angry? Because the whole thing has been foisted on us. SBS is doing a great job to balance out religiosity with atheist debates, but otherwise Pope week has been a very very annoying event indeed! Could we get $5500 back for the inconvenience from the incomparably rich Vatican? Didn’t think so.

——–

Hope the NoToPope coalition will raise hell, so to speak, tomorrow on Taylor Square… dissent needs to be heard and acknowledged.

Tonight Hellfire club is doing a Pellfire.. hope many of my friends are there sending up religious oppression, the Catholic church and exercising their right to be free, sexual and devious. I’m so glad that Sydney is such a free and wonderful place… when there’s no WYD happening.

On the lighter side:

health & getting ready to travel :)

health & getting ready to travel :)

I’m flying out on Saturday… so close now :)

Volkan helped me book a hotel in Istanbul, hope it works out. I’m doing lots of chores while also keeping it calm… resting heaps so I can continue to recover. As soon as I’m not resting I get worse. Doctor’s orders!

Half of my tests are not back yet (I’m blaming WYD as staff can’t commute to the hospital!), but my kidneys have been cleared. Leg biopsy confirmed erythema nodosum (2-4 people get it in 10,000… how lucky! maybe I should be playing lottery). Still have fever, fatigue, joint pain and bronchitis but my lumps are fading and my biopsy wound is recovering. I’m having another massage tomorrow to ease my frozen back. It gets that way from too much coughing.

Will have to take it easy while traveling, I’m thinking sitting in cafes and hopping on tour buses. Hope it’ll all resolve itself and I’ll be back to normal in a few weeks. Will see. I’m trying to use my brain power to will my body into healing ;) The whole hospital thing has been scary and unpleasant and I’ll only have a clearer picture of what my immune system is up to when I’m back in September.

Got a nice shorter haircut today, am seeing Dark Knight with Ange and Hannah tomorrow and seeing Simone on Friday night just before flying out… also watching heaps of comedy :)

Unfortunately I won’t be here for the main NoToPope alliance protest and kiss-in on Taylor Square on Saturday… but hope lots of my friends will be there!

(artwork by me and Dave Miller from 2005)

Hitchens on waterboarding

Hitchens on waterboarding

The inimitable Christopher Hitchens did agan what only Hitchens can do so well. Creating lively discussion on a controversial political topic in a creative and fierce way. This time he’s undergone the torture technique called ‘waterboarding’.

His Vanity Fair article replete with a video of his ordeal describes in detail his experience and shows that this procedure is indeed torture plain and simple. ‘Waterboarding’ is a simple technique that aims to terrify the victim into confession and involves repeated submersion and inhalation of water, often leading to suffocation. For this reason it’s a highly risky undertaking for a 59 year old journalist.

This technique has been downplayed recently by US officials who wanted to garner public support for the use of it in the interrogation of ‘terrorist’ suspects. Subsequently the majority of the American public has learnt to accept the technique as an acceptable weapon in the ‘war on terror’. Hitchens obviously wanted to investigate first hand what this torture technique involves and how it feels. The results are unambiguous.

He recently said in a Late Night Live interview that after WWII no-one expected torture methods or inhumane treatment to be ever allowed again as a legitimate use of force by a world power. Since then several genocides occurred in the world and now US and other governments often use hitherto unaccepted methods that the Geneva Convention has ruled out as legitimate. This development is both disturbing and is closely linked to both civil right violations by the US and allied regimes and their profligate and inhumane treatment of terror suspects who often turn out to be plain civilians caught in legal limbo, suffering without any due reason and languishing in places such as Guantanamo.

Hitchens has been criticised by the Left for turning against Left thinking and proclaiming that the Iraq war was justified and right. He continues to stir up controversy and discussion on important political issues and he’s also written a fantastic book on atheism. Whether you end up agreeing with him or not, he’s worth listening to.