and I have the time to myself to ponder about my life & catch up with some readings I have neglected for the past two months. However, I have to do some spring cleaning, in preparation for the Eid Al Adha celebration which is just around the corner, a day before the New Year.
Currently I am engrossed in Pamuk’s beautiful literary works. He has captured the beauty of Istanbul & has really captivated me eventhough I’ve only read a few chapters.
Below are a few excerpts from his memoir entitled : Istanbul: Memories of a City
– From Chapter 1 – Another Orhan –
Conrad, Nobokov, Naipaul – these are writers known for having managed to migrate between languages, cultures, countries, continents, even civilisations. Their imaginations were fed by exile, a nourishment drawn not through roots but through rootlessness; mine however, requires that I stay in the same city, on the same street, in the same house, gazing at the same view. Istanbul’s fate is my fate: I am attached to the city because it has made me who I am.
Flaubert, who visited Istanbul a hundred and two years before my birth was struck by the variety of life in its teeming streets; in one of his letters he predicted that in a century’s time it would be the capital of the world. The reverse came true: after the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the world almost forgot that Istanbul existed. The city into which I was born was poorer, shabbier, and more isolated than it had ever been its two-thousand-year history. For me it has always been a city of ruins and of end-of-empire melancholy. I’ve spent my life either battling with this melancholy, or (like all Istanbullus) making it my own.
Another interesting excerpt from his novel actually have helped me understand the life, culture & tradition of the Turks. Were they influenced by the west or vice versa …
… there was not a single surface on my grandmother’s sitting room that wasn’t covered with frames of all sizes. The most imposing were two enormous portraits that hung over the never-used fireplace: one was a retouched photograph of my grandmother, the other my grandfather, who died in 1934. From the way the pictures were positioned on the wall and the way my grandparents had been posed (turned to slightly towards each other in the manner still favoured by European kings and queens on stamps) anyone walking into this museum room to meet their haughty gaze would know at once that the story began with them.
… Leaving the library to return to the main room of the museum, stopping briefly by the crystal lamps that only add to the gloom, we find a crowd of untouched black-and-white photographs that tell us life is gaining momentum. Here we see all the children posing at their betrothals, their weddings, and the other great moments of their lives. Next to the first colour photographs that my uncle sent from America are snapshots of the extended family enjoying holiday meals in various city parks, in Taksim Square, and on the shores of the Bosphorous; next to the picture of me and my brother with our parents at a wedding is one of my grandfather posing with his new car in the garden of the old house, and another of my uncle posing with his new car outside the entrance of Pamuk Apartments.
I find there are some similarities between the Turks and the Arabs and I guess one must have influenced the other but am not sure which one. Both seem to have very close ties between their families. Extended families live in the same building, each branch have their own floor or unit.
Highlander, maybe you could help me here!
Ottoman Empire, 1299–1683 – Wiki