I started writing this post a long time ago but it stayed unfinished because my procrastinator nature took over :p I’m back on track and this is only the first post of the many to come 🙂
It’s been a long time since I’ve written on here and the reason for that is that there weren’t many things I wanted to write about and I had limited access to internet. I’m writing at Trabzon airport (Trabzon is the next province after Giresun on the east side). I will try to write as much as I can but obviously I’ve forgotten a lot already, oops..
We stayed at our house in the village for most of the days and only left it twice to visit yayla and Trabzon. I will talk about in more detail but my main thoughts on my stay at Giresun… it was as always very relaxing, living in the mountains with nothing to worry about, only hearing the sound of adhan and jackals and super healthy food freshly plucked from our own garden. Besides that, it was also a big eye opener. You suddenly realise how many opportunities you have back home to improve yourself and do something meaningful for others. Too many blessings we take for granted: internet, public transport, being around people, lessons and what not.. this is exactly what I needed to be motivated and energised for a busy last year at uni and giving to others. You realise that there’s no rest except after struggle and no happiness except after sadness. Another lesson I learned is that letting go of things is very important to be happy. For me personally this had to do with filling my time with useful things. For me, a day not planned is a day I didn’t live. This brings a lot of ease as well as a lot of stress in my life. When I don’t get everything done that I wanted to do or I have to change my planning for some reason this can extremely annoy me. This is not the life style of ANY of these people. I even spent a day with the imam and his wife and I saw how relaxed they were and didn’t get stressed out by anything.
(ps I’m in the air by now – literally)
I don’t think I will ever be able to live like that, just see what you can do at the moment and not plan for what comes next. But it did teach me to be less obsessed with trying to control everything an stress out once it doesn’t work, after all I can only plan but never can I have power on what Allah has already planned. I would like to experience living in a place without internet and all other comforts we know in the west for at least a year, the result will either be a crazy yearning for my old way of life or a totally transformed view of life from my side.
Now about the trips that we made. The first one was to yayla. Yayla is what we call the highlands, they are located some 60 kms away from the sea and consist of huge mountains with mostly grass but not as many trees as in köy (village in the lower mountains that are closer to the sea and the city). There aren’t many people living there and those who do only come during summer because in winter it is really impossible to survive there. It’s extremely cold and there’s very little oxygen which makes it very hard to breathe, but in the long term gives you very healthy lungs.
There’s not much that I can say about it except that it’s really beautiful.. a treasure hidden far away. And the meat is amazing too 🙂
The next trip was to Trabzon. It takes about an hour or two to get there from Giresun. We visited a place called Sümela manastiri, a monastry located inside a high mountain, a very secluded place, “perfect for worship” thought some Christians from Trabzon many centuries ago. And amazing it was.. just imagine all the rooms (= caves) up in the mountains, with an amazing view. It felt so weird to walk there and imagine that there were actually people living there and worshiping – wow.
At this point I stopped writing and it’s been a week since I returned to Holland..
Leaving Giresun wasn’t that difficult for me, because although I find it a very beautiful place it doesn’t and will never satisfy my soul. Istanbul is much nearer to that, probably because its historical richness is still reflected in everything that the city has to offer and is felt very strongly..
It were the last days of Ramadan when we were in Istanbul and it was much hotter there so whenever we went a day out we had to take another day to just rest at home. One of the days that we went out was truly the most beautiful day that I ever had in Istanbul, and one of the most beautiful days of my life..
We went to the “other side” (European side) by ferry with my mother, sister and friend, a journey of its own. From there I parted from them (it was hard to convince them that I’m old enough to discover Istanbul on my own but I did it 🙂 ) since they wanted to visit touristic places and I just wanted to go to the yearly book fair that I discovered two years ago thanks to my brother. It was very exciting to go there by myself, and difficult too! I took the bus instead of the metro and therefore I had to walk quite a bit. I thought I was in some Arab country because the streets where I walked were filled with shops directed to Arab tourists. While I was walking salatul jumu’ah was being prayed, and for the first time in my life I saw men praying outside because the masjid was too full. That made me soooo happy! But as soon as the prayer ended I suddenly saw a HUGE crowd of men walking in all directions!! And I got in panic, it felt so awkward.. it was like I was the only women on the face of the earth :p
I walked hastily and finally found the place where the book fair is located, Beyazit Meydani (Beyazit Square). The Istanbul University and Beyazit mosque are also found here. As I hadn’t prayed dhuhr yet I went inside the mosque………….. and I heard something magical…. a hafidh reciting the Qur’an beautifully.. it had me mesmerised.. I stayed there until the recitation ended and then made my entrance into the fair 🙂 book fair’s are so nice, there are only nice people and the books are so so so cheap! I wanted to buy almost everything :p but I had been warned too often to dare to buy more than two books…. I ended up buying 13 books and I was gifted 4 other books haha. Let me explain.. I actually bought only two books for myself. One has a title that I just can’t translate but the writer has went to many places and interviewed people who have opposed the oppressors.. it sounds like a real eye-opener. The other one is called the aqeedah of the salaf, by Guraba publishers, which is one of the few publishers that only publish authentic books in Turkish. I bought 11 pocket books of hisnul muslim there which shouldn’t actually be counted as books! It was also there that I was gifted four (little) books. The brother who was selling the books of the publishing house was in a deep conversation with one of the visitors, who was a brother who just started seeking knowledge and was quite confused about what to read. It was so touching to listen to them, it reminded me of my first steps and the confusion that comes with it. So the brother gave the visitor 4 little books about ahlul bayt and since I had been listening to them for like half an hour he also gave the same books to me 😀
Since it felt awkward to walk past all the stands for the so manieth time I went back to Eminönü, where the ferry leaves to the Asian side. This time I took the metro and arrived in like 5 minutes :p. I had another hour before my mother etc. would come so I went to the mosque by the Bosphorus (Yeni Cami – New Mosque – not that new anymore..). And what did I hear again…. another beautiful recitation of the Qur’an… I was sooo happy, I just sat down with my Qur’an translation and followed the recitation. I don’t know who was more amazed, the many tourists sitting in the front or me hiding in the back of the mosque at the women’s section. It was very emotional, especially after all the days full of distraction. I had finally found myself, there was no one to disturb me, just me and this beautiful voice. At some point there was another sister sitting next to me and making a heartfelt dua, followed by tears of hope and fear. I felt a very strong connection with her, something that I can’t explain but I felt it right in my heart. I had to leave sooner than I wanted.. I had a strong urge to walk up to one of the tourists and ask them what they felt when they heard this, but next time in sha Allah.
That was Turkey 2013, it took longer and ended sooner than I had expected. It was different than other years and yet the same places that I went to. Leaving Istanbul was much harder than leaving Giresun. Perhaps because it meant that I was leaving Turkey for real now, and only Allah knows when I will return again – if I ever will. Both my body and soul got sick when I came back home, it felt soo cold, both literally and figuratively. I really miss it.. fajr adhan in Istanbul, the weather, the sun, the roads, the food and I can go on and on.. But this is my home right now, and I know that it will soon change so I have patience and I’m happy to be here for a little longer. I’m ready for the next challenge, my last year at uni in sha Allah. An exciting year is ahead of me..