From my heart to Istanbul

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this picture quite aptly sums up to me the essence of Istanbul-

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

We just got back today from beautiful Istanbul. Landed in London, from 23 degrees Celsius to 3 degrees, needless to say my body, nor I were too excited about this dramatic temperature drop. Luckily, sunny skies greeted us and not the perpetual rain. I have been struck by my usual post-travels depression bouts, then again who wouldn’t be if they were returning from the beautiful, soulful, and cultural city of Istanbul to this comparatively bland city of London.

I saw many things, learnt an even more about the Turkish history, fell in love with the city, and the people. I can go on and on about the amazing food, but all I know is that I have left a big chunk of my heart in that city. I have a lot to say about Istanbul and share my experience, and I will in the coming days.

Istanbul definitely is a unique city and MUST be experienced at least once in your life. But, if you are anything like me, you know your soul will always crave going back there. I feel, my soul may have found a home in Istanbul.

The whole five day experience was absolutely amazing, and it ended with us finding two Turkish friends towards the tail end, but I hope that we can keep in touch with them through the years and only build a stronger bond.

Now, off to bed, but will come back with more to say, pictures to share and tips for other travelers out there.

On the topic of love

Beautiful quotes I came across today:

“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. here is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever.”

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and for the writers out there:

“And whenever I see a first novel dedicated to a wife (or a husband), I smile and think, ‘There’s someone who knows.’ Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.” – Stephen King.

“Sometimes people delay marriage because they are searching for the perfect soul mate. But that view has it backward. Your spouse becomes your soul mate after you’ve made those vows to each other in front of God and the people who matter to you. You don’t marry someone because he’s your soul mate; he becomes your soul mate because you married him.” Julia Shaw

Love-in Istanbul!

Istanbul, the ultimate city of love…the love of the Lord, the Love of the beloved, the Love of the world, the love of all…sitting here on a late Saturday night, listening to the sounds of the music that are penetrating through the very air that resonate five times with the sound of the Adhaan (prayer call)…can’t help but be inspired especially after a day with Rumi at the Galata Mevlevihanesi (Museum of Divan Literature-Divan Edebiyat Müzesi). 

Love–in Istanbul

Love is which makes you soar

even when you don’t have wings

It is what makes you rise

when all you feel is fallen

Love, is which makes you wanted

even when you stand out like a sore thumb

It is the acceptance of one soul

of another….

forever eternally complete

Yes, it is love indeed

that makes you weep

cry

laugh

all in one night

It is the contentment of the soul

the peace that stirs the seven seas

when the laughter of your beloved

is reason enough…

Love won’t mock,

won’t criticize

It will just let you be

Love is freedom

the freedom to be

the freedom to live

the freedom to soar

yes, even when you don’t have wings….

BUT,

Especially, when you DON’T have wings

love

Ramadan Reflections: My Room

I am currently visiting my parents in Vancouver. They still live in the same house that I last lived in before I moved to the East coast 3 years ago. I am very nomadic when I visit my family. The other day, it hit me that I can no longer lay claim to my room as “my room” since  my baby sister has completely taken over it. She and I shared this particular room for 5 years and had been roommates for 13 years before I moved away. Whenever I visit my family, my stays are of longer durations.  My family is always excited to have me over and do everything in their capacity to ensure my comfort. One of the bedrooms is almost always made available for me to stay in, however, I get anxious and have troubles sleeping in a new space, so I generally crash on the couch in the living room. Our home (3 years since I moved away, and I still can’t refer to it as just my parents home, but ours) is not huge, but a cozy little place. growing up here, that was one of the things that I loved most about it. It was sometimes hard to really find privacy (which would get annoying), but you always felt the presence of the people in the house. At times, it seemed to be a small home, but for our family of 6, it served its purpose.

Since I moved out, it meant that each sibling had a room of their own and basically a private space. We managed well in this home of ours. Since, I don’t see this house as separate from my existence,  there really is never any need for any sort of formality. Comfort to me is not defined by my convenience but by the convenience of the hosts that I am visiting. Sometimes,  to me, requiring a private space to sleep in is not important when I visit, but this very Bedouin-like attitude of mine is in fact what impedes their normal routine.

It occurred to me that although when I was around, there was 6 of us who managed fine in this space, but now that there are 5, somehow that same space seems small when the 6th member of the family rejoins. I started thinking about the irony of life, that once people who are integral parts of our homes, and lives, can all of a sudden seem to be the very cause of disturbances. Like molecules that are constantly moving and adjusting according to the space allotted to them, human beings do the same.  My room is no longer mine, but rather I am a guest in the house. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t behave as a guest, nor am I made to feel unwelcome or as a disturbance, but I am no longer an everyday part of their lives. The layout of the house and the natural flow of the space is now adjusted to be managed without my being there, hence my very presence disturbs the equilibrium of this home.

Life, as a cycle is cruel! As children, we are entirely dependent on our parents, our lives unimaginable or even non-existent without their constant care and nourishment. As we grow up, we crave our own personal spaces, so we move away. I remember when I was younger,  I always thought I could not live without my family for a day, let alone spend 3 years away from them. Being the eldest, I had a lot of responsibility placed onto me. My parents, out of habit always called out my name first when they needed something, before they called out any of my other siblings. There was a huge dependence and reliance on me. Similarly, I was so used to just having everyone around me, that the very thought of not being around them was crippling. It would shake me to my core and I would spend sleepless nights crying; yet I have survived the past 3 years, and so have they. It is not to say we don’t miss one another or even miss each others’ constant presence in our lives, it is just that life takes over.

I often think about my grandparents who have passed away. My maternal grandfather passed away 21 years ago and my maternal grandmother passed away almost about 9 years ago. I think how my mother lives without them in her life? I wonder how my father lives without his dad, who passed away 4 years ago. Our time on this earth is limited, we are bound to each other in relationships of love and nurture. We deem ourselves incomplete, and incapable of living without one another, yet life stops for no one. It continues its vicious cycle of living. Time flows seconds into minutes into hours, into days into weeks into years into decades into centuries. We all come to this world, and leave. When we leave, we cause pain to those we leave behind. At those moments life seems impossible to live, yet we too find the strength and the will to continue living. First we miss our loved ones every waking moment of our lives, then it becomes every other day, slowly, we miss them on happy occasions, or remember them on the day they passed away. Those  people who were once crucial to our very survival , their memories start to fade and they become a distant, hazy image in our heads. Everyone around adjusts and makes themselves a little more comfortable in the space those loved ones once occupied. There remains no empty or extra space.

Just like my room is no longer mine, this earth is also one day not going to be mine. We all do return to Him. Our time on this earth is temporary and short, yet we spend majority of our time inconveniencing everyone around, when we all know we will leave one day. We spend our lives making strong buildings, and yearning to earn unlimited amounts of money for a future time we cannot guarantee we will have. In the process often times, we burn bridges, break hearts, humiliate, keep animosities, lie, cheat and deceive, all for our temporary existence and comfort  in this world. Before I moved away, at times I would feel that my family didn’t value me enough, and I deluded myself into believing that once I was away, they would realize how dependent they are on me. I think we all become slaves to the idea of others existence somehow dependent on us. Yes, we are interdependent, but no life ends with another. It is arrogant to believe my non-existence would somehow stop the world. Coming back to visit my paternal home this Ramadan has been a humbling experience because I realized that once where I was an integral part of my family’s daily life, they have been forced to adjust without me, just as I am forced to without them. This does not mean that our love for one another has diminished, but just that we have learnt to manage without one another.

Our lives should not be slaves to our ego’s desire to be the centre of attention, nor should we live in a life of delusion to think that somehow the world revolves around us. Those of us who live today are blessed to experience this beautiful month of Ramadan. How many of us will live to see the next Ramadan, none of us know. May we all gain the blessings of this month and may we be granted another day to live and utilize the blessings within this blessed month. May we continue to realize the temporary state of our stay in this world, even after this month of Ramadan is over and may we continue to live our lives to the fullest servitude of Allah rather than the worldly possessions and whims (Ameen).

Pay to snuggle !!!

http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/blogs/shine-on/snuggery-york-woman-hopes-living-snuggling-60-hour-173322575.html

I am going to sound judgemental from here on, but how much money do people have in their lives to pay someone to snuggle with them? I understand the importance of touch and meaningful relationships, but does cuddling with some random stranger for the sake of releasing the feel good hormones really “normal” and should we really accept it as “normal”?

I am not denying one’s need to want to feel that physical touch. Touch is a powerful sense. The human psyche is complicated indeed, and it is difficult for me to comprehend why someone would pay to cuddle? Whatever happened to actually getting out there and working towards having meaningful relationships? Why is it okay for someone to capitalize on a “natural need” and make it a business? We are allowing for people to further marginalize and disintegrate from society and promoting isolation. Research shows that cuddling lowers levels of cortisol, strengthens the immune system, and lowers blood pressure, but I am going to argue that paid cuddling to fulfill that physical void without the emotional connectivity of a relationship is only going to offer the benefits in the short-term and not in the long term. Human beings are social creatures. We are meant to mingle, make friends, get into long term relationships, have families and build communities. We were not meant to just live in isolation. How much of our times have we dedicated to the pursuit of money that we have no time to build meaningful relationships and communities?

The very basic premise of this idea of seeing a “need” and then starting a business to fulfill that need perpetuates that money can buy happiness. What lessons and what kind of community are we leaving behind as legacy for our future generation? We are basically saying it is okay to be lazy and not need to have relationships or to work to have relationships (relationships in all its forms, friendship, family, society, even with God etc)? Why are we not trying to work to make holistic individuals, rather than just being able to buy every emotional desire? Why?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand how hard it is sometimes to meet people you want to have relationships with. It is not easy, but anything worth having is generally not easy. Relationships by definition are not easy and require work and effort. I guess, this is our quick way of paying for something just so we don’t have to work for it? Why are going further towards a life that is unfulfilled? I also cannot ignore the obvious problem with this model, $60 an hour for cuddling means only those who can afford it can fulfill this need of theirs; therefore, only the rich have the means to be able to do this, whilst the not so rich are left to the good old tactics of having to do things the old fashioned way.

Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy or am I crazy?