India Sweet India

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve returned from the Himalayas but I still have not had the chance to write about it. It was an exhilarating experience and as soon as I got back I’ve become very busy.

This time around my trip felt even better than the last time. During my previous trip I was trying to recover from an illness. However this time I was already feeling well when I got there and every moment left me feel like I was in heaven. Literally!

What made it special is not only the amazing view but the vibrations.

The vibrations were so strong and pleasant that every moment was serene and filled with joy and inner peace.

Looking back, every moment of my trip was so delightful that just thinking about it gives me joy. This time I flew to Dubai, then to Delhi from Delhi to Amritsar and from Amritsar we drove up to Dharamsala with other yogis who joined from America.

I Phone Indıa 044

As soon as I landed in Delhi, joy took me over. They had lost my luggage which I suspected that they would when they could not give me my boarding passes for the continuation of the trip in Istanbul.

I Phone Indıa 041

Anyway, I was too delighted to make a fuss over it and like a true yogini should, I was able to detach from the situation or let it upset me in anyway.

As I arrived to Amritsar, I enjoyed the five hour drive to Dharamsala immensely.

I Phone Indıa 050

The pleasure derived mostly from being there in the company of other yogis.

Towards the evening we arrived to Grace Heritage Hotel in Dharamsala.  The calm state of the Himalayas combined with the refine decoration of the Hotel has a soothing effect.

I was very delighted to see Yogiji Uncle. When I told him that the airline has lost my suitcase, he immediately gave me a nice shawl to keep warm and some beautiful Indian outfits.

I Phone Indıa 070

The next day I went shopping for some more items that I may need and the problem was completely fixed as though I never lost the suitcase.

I Phone Indıa 071

In my lost suitcase there were presents and Tulip Pulps which I had brought from Turkey, for the Dharamsala Ashram so the whole time I was hoping that they would keep. Oddly I had placed an icepack with the Tulip Pulps when I was leaving Istanbul. I don’t know if that helped but they were fine when they arrived.

So surrendering when there is a troublesome situation, the way a yogini should, did make the problem go away.

In general this trip felt much stronger in effect, compared to my previous recent trip to India. That time I was barely recovering from sickness and the healing effects were amazing. This time, I was already fine when I arrived so I could feel the depth being bestowed upon me.

One of the main goals of my spiritual journey is heightened awareness. It happened so spontaneously this time that it was almost surprising to discover the change.

My awareness level and sensitivity towards various vibrations have increased just like that. Along with it worry has disappeared and inner peace has arrived on a whole new level. Feeling very calm on the inside is very pleasant. A spiritual journey involves a lot of introspection and facing oneself before one can clear out the chakras. This time it was less difficult more joyful.

Hiking in the Himalayas, meditating, listening to music, having good food, many many chais, wonderful company, waking up to an amazing view….I just kept absorbing all the wonderful vibrations while greatly appreciating every moment.

After 14 days in the ashram, I went to Heritage Grace Hotel again to spend my last day and night there before leaving the Himalayas. It was yet again such a delight to be there.

I Phone Indıa 260On Sunday morning I left the Hotel at 6 in the morning as a car took me to Amritsar. When I arrived there I visited the Golden Temple before I took my flight.

I Phone Indıa 292

Although it was beautiful, it was so hot that I literally felt that I was melting away in the heat. It was around 10:30 in the morning yet already very hot. I was chatting with my friends via my whatsapp group and one of them placed a photo of a nice cappuccino. Oh how much I missed a good cup of cappuccino. I told him that as soon as I arrived in Istanbul, I would enjoy one. A short while later I left the temple and went towards the place where I would meet the driver and right next to it was a coffee shop with great air condition and strong cappuccinos. So I did not have to wait for Istanbul, my small yet pure desire was fulfilled immediately.

It is when we are deeply connected that anything that crosses our heart manifests in front of us effortlessly. I had missed that privilege over the past few years. The realization that it is back along with my awareness levels being heightened is very pleasing.

After having my coffee I went to the airport and took my flight to Delhi. It was incredibly hot, 43 degrees hot to be precise. I was back to melting in my dress. The driver whom I knew from my last trip and had arranged ahead of time came to pick me up at the airport and took me to Nirmal Dham which is not only a Sahaja Yoga Center close to the Delhi Airport but also where my Guru Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi had been buried to rest in peace.

As I was visiting her tomb, I realized that I got to visit Her on Mother’s Day. I had not planned for it on purpose; it just turned out to be so. After paying my respects, I had yet another amazing meditation. Vibrations were so strong that I could hardly bring myself to break away and leave.

I Phone Indıa 321

I did leave eventually and through a lot of traffic, the Driver took me to Yogiji Uncle’s wife, Deepa Auntie’s house. I was so happy to see her again. After nice dinner and a delightful chat I collapsed into sleep as I had had only a few hours of sleep for the past two days.  At three in the morning I got up and left for the airport.

My flight back to Istanbul was direct so it was rather swift. When I arrived home I felt the strength of the accumulated vibrations with me.

Since it has been a few weeks now, I found myself diving back into my life and taking a sudden step back. One of the main occasions that take place after strong spiritual experiences is; things getting exposed around me or an increased ability to see things which I could not before.

So soon upon arrival, I found myself getting lost in mediocre ways of the world, trying to fit in with people that I have very little in common with.  Then I questioned why I would even find myself in that situation. I realized that there is something convenient about the mediocre ways of life.

It allows one to kill time in the most inefficient way. This at the same time is very suitable when one does not have any hobbies and a lot of free time or a very ordinary life revolving around daily family worries. In both situations it is harmless fun. However in my case I find that it keeps me from doing things that I used to do to fill my free time. I used to write more and read more. Now I find myself getting lost in meaningless, yet fun chats for hours and hours.

After each trip that I have taken so far for spiritual purposes some major or small changes in my life have taken place. I recall one year after I had first become a Sahaja Yogini in 1999,  the person that I had known until then to be my best friend with whom we grew up together turned out not to be a true friend and I took it a bit hard at the time. I removed her from my life which was a wise decision. However yoginis forgive, so decades later I forgave her. I find myself in a similar situation one more time, this time I cannot say that I am taking it hard.

It is more like a good reminder to stop wasting my time with meaningless chats. The spirit gets exhausted during these so called meaningless chats, thus to maintain the pureness of the spirit, using free time; for good walks with the dogs or art projects, reading, writing, listening to music, meditating, working out, anyone of the things that I already do are better for my spirit.

I can still enjoy deep spiritual or intellectual chats with those who enjoy them as much as I do and those are the people with whom I have more in common thus fitting in does not become an issue.

So a little time spent in heaven, a whole lot more awareness, a little bit of change in the smaller choices of life, a lot of inner peace and joy, feeling calmer and worry free, having a small desire and seeing it be fulfilled right away are the results of my latest trip to India, Sweet India!

I Phone Indıa 341


Leave a comment

Filed under faith, Religion, Society, thoughts, Uncategorized

Sweetness Brings the Taste

As I was watching TV, I came across the semi final and final episodes of a cooking competition named “The Taste”. It was very engaging so I found myself watching it with great enjoyment. Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Marcus Samuelsson are the judges and at the sPepiname time the mentors of their teams.

In the semi final episode, three members of Ludo Lefebvre’s team were competing under his guidance and one from Anthony Bourdain’s team.

The four contestants all seemed interesting although as a viewer Lee Knoeppel from Anthony’s team and Marina Chung from Ludo’s team appeared to be perceived as very promising by the judges in general. However the semi-final was not judged by them but by Chef Jacques Pepin.  A 79 year old French Chef who has not only great recognition but more importantly, immense experience.

He tasted all 4 dishes and picked one to be the best, another one to be the second best, and one to be the worst, who was eliminated.

The one he chose as the best was Marina Chung’s dish and the second best was Lee Knoeppel’s dish, the third contestant who made it to the finals was Louise Leonard.

During the final competition Chef Pepin was mentoring all three, in other words he was mentoring two of the contestants whose food he had picked out to be the best and second best during the semi finals and Louise.

Lee and Marina were very proud that a worldly recognized important chef such as Jacques Pepin had chosen their food in the semi finals.

So during the finals he was browsing around giving suggestions to all of them. Marina simply opposed by saying “No, that is not how I do it”.

Lee was putting some of the dishes onto the small spoons for the judges and Chef Jacques Pepin suggested that it was too early, 18 minutes before their time was up, he simply said “that’s how it’s gotta be”.

Chef Pepin said “It will get cold.”

Lee said “If I heat it, it will dry, there is no other way.”

Yes, the 28 year old contestant was telling the 79 year old, famous Chef that there is no other way.

The Chef gave it another try and suggested he keeps it low heat in the oven. Lee could not be convinced. He knew better than Chef Pepin.

It was very interesting to observe both Lee and Marina disregarding suggestions of one of the best Chef’s in the world when they were so proud, for their food to be acknowledged by the very same man, “One of the best chefs in the world!” as they called him.

So while being judged by him they recognized what a valuable professional he is, but when he was mentoring them, they completely disregarded his input. In a way they felt they knew better than the experienced Chef.

Louise however was the humble one. He suggested that she cuts of the white part of the bread she made and leave the crust only, which she immediately did. Then her meat sauce broke and while she was desperate to save it, Chef Pepin helped her out and provided a quick solution. He made her use the juice of the meat from the oven with a little bit of her broken sauce, saying “You need so little for the tiny spoons that this will do.”

She did as he suggested.

Chef Pepin said, “She is more receptive” nothing more.

When it came to the finals, the judges tasted all three contestants’ dishes, without knowing who cooked what of course.

It was very interesting to observe their discussions. Lee’s dish where Chef Pepin had suggested to be kept warm, could not be identified by any of the judges. They liked the taste but could not tell what it was exactly. Had he listened to Chef Pepin and kept it warm they could have maybe.

Louise’s crunchy bread got immediate positive attention. All in all the judges said that all three are of similar high level, none jump out so it will be a difficult to tell who the winner will be.

After they all turned in their points, Lee ended up being the third and Marina the second, whereas Louise, the least expected contestant won the competition.

The reason I felt compelled to write about this was because it was such a good example of how the ego can destroy someone and how humility can push someone forward.

In a situation where three cooks of very similar level were competing at the finals, the difference was in the very small details. Chef Pepin offered the same help to each and every one of them, and the one who heard him won with a very slight difference. That difference came from being wise enough to listen to the input of an experienced person.

The modern world makes us believe that aggression, competitive behavior; generally speaking an ego oriented style is what brings success. Although it might create the image of success, this competition was a perfect example to the contrary. Throughout the two final episodes that I watched, Louise was not depicted as a big deal by any of the commenters while the other two finalists were considered very promising on account of their food but also that is how they carried themselves.

Nigella Lawson had one remark that caught my attention. She said “Louise always smiles no matter what and I can taste that smile in her food.”

So when they chose the winner without knowing whose dish it was, the winner turned out to be the one contestant whose food was filled with love and who was humble and wise enough to respect an experienced Chef to get the little bit of difference that made her win.

I thought that was inspiring, as it proves that when everyone is at the same level, the ones that stand out are not the ones who have confidence deriving from their ego but the one who is humble enough to pass beyond their ego.

In essence, a pumped ego is not a prerequisite for success and sweetness in not necessarily an obstacle!







Leave a comment

Filed under Food

Are they Terrorists or Activists?

The terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo and his coworkers which lead to their death is very tragic. Cartoonists were killed over their jokes.  The radical Islamist’s non-tolerant behavior against freedom of speech appears to have shocked the world.

I am surprised that they are shocked, given that the magazine has been receiving threats for years.

What I find hard to understand is why they did not have better security when they were so obviously and openly threatened.

Of course the issue is way beyond a threat on freedom of speech, like any terrorist attack, this one also is a big threat to the security of the public of France. Now, the world seems to be on alert against terrorism. Unless the world unites against it, terrorism it will always exist.

Paris has been the safe harbor of the PKK, which is a Kurdish armed terrorist organization that attacks mainly Turkey. Although they are on the terrorist list of the UN, USA and EU their headquarters in Paris are no secret.

Three months ago, the PKK burned down a supermarket in İzmir while people were shopping inside. I recall chatting with a French friend who did not think that it was such a terrible thing, after all Kurds had a good cause, in his mind. The fact that they were aiming to kill ordinary citizens who were merely going about their daily routine of grocery shopping did not seem to shake him.

I ended the conversation saying, “If the same happened in Paris or London I doubt that you would be so easygoing about it.”

Three months later the same thing did in fact happen in Paris, terrorists held up a supermarket, some died during the incident. He sees this as a tragedy and I completely agree.

My point is that terrorism is bad in any form mainly because they are a threat to innocent ordinary citizens, regardless of what they believe in. Some soldiers of the Turkish army who were cornered, attacked and killed by the PKK while off duty, unarmed and merely grocery shopping with their wives, turned out to be of Kurdish origin. The same way a policeman killed by the Islamıc terrorists in Paris was in fact a Muslim.

These past 2 days, bomb attacks were stopped around various malls in Istanbul and two PKK militants were caught. This is during the peace process.

The world uniting against terrorism is a good idea, but this unity should be against all armed terrorist, since they are all a threat to innocent lives. Once nations start harboring some terrorist because their cause does not seem so bad, in other words their gun’s are not turned towards the citizens of the harboring country, there is no way of stopping it.

Unity means, legal states looking out for each other on this matter by standing against illegal organizations as a front. If that truly happened, I doubt that these organizations could keep their strengths for too long. After all an attack with sticks and stoned would not be too scary, and whether they are Islamist terrorist or ethnical terrorists, their access to guns and ammunition comes from some legal state, somewhere in the world.

Should the modern world truly unite against them, they would have very limited strength to operate.

Another measure that needs to be taken to solve this problem of Radical Islamist terrorists is to go into the root of the problem. The Muslim world needs to own up to this problem and save the youth from falling into ideas that motivate them to fight under the illusion of Jihad. ISIS is attacking Muslims more than Non-Muslims simply because that is what the main population consists of where they are stationed. Boko Haram is enslaving and raping Muslim girls who are just children. So although to the western mind this may appear to be a threat for Non-Muslims only that is not the case.

These Radicals are a threat to anyone peaceful and normal, thus they need to be dealt with as the world’s problem. Yet the main responsibility falls onto the shoulders of Muslim countries. We always hear the following quote “Islam is a peaceful religion” saying it is not enough, establishing peace is what needs to be done.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear discussions in this regard on Turkish TV. It was refreshing to hear Muslim clerics say more that “This is not true Islam” but owning up to the problem and looking for solutions against these radical moves.

Of course if extremist in Europe act out on the existing Xenophobia, using the tragedy as an excuse it will corner the Muslim world into a defensive speech.

So the true solution for this issue is, for regular Muslims and Westerners to team up against this problem. Of course a very delicate balance needs to be maintained for it to work.

If Europeans keep making statements that include all Muslims into the same circles with these radicals, the peaceful ones will end up retrieving themselves from the situation.

The same way if the peaceful Muslims do not own up to the situation and simply blame it on Xenophobia, they will rightfully have to endure more xenophobia. After all if these guys do not represent your religion, “where are you to represent it? Make a stand so that we finally see these peaceful Muslims in action” would be a fair response.

In summary the more civilized members of the world whether Muslim or Non-Muslim have to team up and work against these medieval savages. However such a partnership would also fail when terrorist such as the PKK are guarded, simply because their guns do not turn towards citizens of France. The way to a more peaceful world, where one is not threatened to be killed while grocery shopping, lies in taking a stand against all armed terrorism.

All of those groups have good reasons if you ask them.  It does not change the fact that they are killing ordinary innocent people, which is precisely what makes them terrorist.  Considering those who do not kill your own citizens “activists” is something that any country can do, but that is how these organizations manage to exist and keep attacking. Thus the world needs to take stand against all of them.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Islam, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized

Tranquility, Easy to Reach

It’s raining outside, the sound of the water beating against the pavement is very calming. I have finally had a good night of sleep last night, after a few days of little sleep.

A project that I had been working on for a few months now has kept me very busy lately that I did not have the time to update my blog. It involved a lot of reading on subjects that I like so I cannot complain.

Still when I finished, I found myself feeling happy to be free to read more things unrelated to the topic of my project. Days like today, when I wake up rested after a tired period, I feel blank. It is a pleasant feeling. After having to be focused on something for days, once it is finished my brain seems to relax and by going blank breaking me away from my regular life.

It is a good state to meditate.

I have been a Sahaja Yogini since 1998 yet sometimes, I still find my friends asking me if I continue my yoga practice. I’ve been practicing since college and it has become a life style for me since then. I used give free of charge, Sahaja Yoga classes in college. Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, who is the founder of Sahaja Yoga, always explained that sharing love should not be charged for and established the whole organization as a non-profit entity.

Yoga means “Union” It is a way to unite with the whole, call it Divine, call it Universe…depending on one’s spiritual beliefs the terminology might change but through Yoga we connect. The western world seems to have a misconception of the word Yoga assuming that it is about body postures. This is mainly because the west was introduced to the idea of Yoga mainly through practices such as Hatha Yoga, which involve a lot of body postures.

It matched the western culture’s idea of achievement, because when you evolve your physical abilities everyone can see it. So you have proof that you are better at it and can even secretly compete with others should you wish to do so. Whereas spiritual evolvement should make one stop competing with others.

Training the body to bend a certain way also helps one be thoughtless, as one is very much focused on the position, so like some other sports, this type of posture involving yoga relaxes one.

Then again, there is so much more to uniting that seems to be missed in these modern, posture involving westernized yoga classes. The silence of meditation pulls us back into the reality. Especially, if we have lives with a fast pace, to elongate the moment in between two thoughts and go thoughtless might not seem easy at first, but there is a tremendous calming effect once achieved that state.

That blank state breaks us away from all the things that seem to matter and lets us feel the pure joy of THE MOMENT. Although it may differ from culture to culture our conditionings, make us want to mold into a certain form that we feel is acceptable and desirable. Then there are material things that we believe help us have the right look for how we want to be perceived.

Not that I see anything wrong with material achievements, my concern is more on the price that sometimes comes with it. By material, I do not necessarily mean a car or a house but even a position among society.

I feel that as long as we feel free spiritually, it is OK to chase after our dreams of achievement.  How we know whether we are free or not is simple. If we are able to feel inner joy, we are good.

However if the price comes at becoming a sort of dry person, with the inability to enjoy the simple things, there is a problem!

The ideal state should be to make it, (whatever it is we desire to make) while maintaining the ability to feel inner bliss.

One of the keys to that is getting over our conditionings. The ability to have a flexible perception on how things ought to be opens a whole new door.  Still there is more to it than the fact that it makes one, a solution finder in situations where people in the box cannot step out.

The best part is that the invisible strains created by our surroundings cannot capture us. In other words, it becomes hard to make us feel bad about who we are, according to the measurements of society.  Those silent moments where we unite with the whole on a spiritual level, helps us see everything from a different angle when it comes to the encounters with the rest on a mental level.

The clouds of thoughts and shapes disappear, leaving us with pure joy, the way it is with children. Children have the ability to tremendously enjoy playing with something as simple as a gift’s wrap, not even the gift itself. Since no one entered this world as an adult, we were all like that and the ability is actually still there.

Although it may sound, like a far away state to be in, when I try to describe it through words, it is like a type of food that one has never tasted, and understands the actual taste of it, better than any of my explanations once they have a bite of it.

Lately a girlfriend at my gym, catches me after a swim and asks me help her meditate. I love that it happens so spontaneously and it has been while since I’ve given yoga classes.  We sit next to the whirlpool where it is usually quiet and go thoughtless, while the kundalini clears out the catches on our chakras, we just enjoy the moment. Those moments of silence are not only rejuvenating but while we enjoy the moment, our world gets re-aligned.

After twenty minutes, she tells me how relaxed and good she feels. Whatever was pulling her down disappears. Of course the actual experience beats, me telling about it. What is happening is that when we are in balance, our surroundings also fall into the right balance. It is not only our perception that gets fresh eyes but also the detachment from whatever it is that is on our mind, takes away its hold on our state of mind.

The alignment that takes place during our silent moments makes things suddenly start working. Those silent moments might seem inactive but it is our connection with the whole, it is the yoga state. In other words our power to create change is not limited to our physical action.

So we do not have to choose between a joyful state and worldly achievements, they are certainly not mutually exclusive but set-backs which are a natural part of working towards a goal, will bother us less when we have the inner joy on our side.

I should probably give a little more information on the type of yoga that I practice for those readers who might desire to achieve the above explained state.

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi

Sahaja Yoga

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi started Sahaja Yoga in 1970 by awakening the kundalini of masses.  In the presence of an awakened kundalini, another one can be awakened, should one desire. This realization helps us re-connect with the whole, in a spontaneous way. Sahaja Yoga means “Spontaneous Union”.

The Kundalini resides in the sacrum area of our body, and it is a female energy that we are all born with. Once our conditionings start as we grow up, she assumes a dormant position, thus upon her re-awakening we become able to have the state of joy that we had in our childhood. As the kundalini rises, she works through our chakras, and unblocks them. This spontaneous clear out, has a transforming effect on our whole being. Of the seven chakras (energy centers) each has a negative and positive quality. So if the chakra is clear the positive quality comes out and if it is blocked the negative quality manifests.

I will not go through all of them but as an example, when our center heart is blocked we might feel uneasy and restless for some moments. Some people resort to alcohol or other substances to subdue that state when it happens. Air is the element of this chakra and proper breathing while meditating is a way to clear it out instantly. Once the chakra is cleared, calmness and peace replaces the previous state of anxiety.

This “clear out” is possible during meditation, so other than the inner bliss, there is a practical side to it that helps us evolve while enjoying.

If I caused you to be curious about Sahaja Yoga, you can simply go to any one of the centers that might be in your area, free of charge, as sharing love should not cost money.

Enjoy the bliss 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under faith, Joy, love, Society, thoughts, Uncategorized

But We Had More Memories to Make…

Sudden death is hard to cope with, for the ones left behind. I suppose it is good for the one who leaves this earth. Going without suffering much, is ideal. I lost my father last week and it hurts immensely. We have not had the best relation, yet oddly I would always worry about this day. I guess deep down I had hopes to work things out among us, although I was not willing to do much about it. The reason that I could not bring myself to resolve things was mostly because it hurt me too much.

Then a few months ago something changed. I found myself enjoying our little chats, even calling him. I guess I should find solace that I had forgiven him before he passed, yet the pain keeps taking me over. Most of my memories with him go way back to my childhood. I was finally ready to make new memories, but he is gone now.

I find myself trying to justify the pain I feel or the fact that I loved him. I find myself telling people that I am making snow days when I am actually grieving and cannot get myself to do much. I tried to go swimming a few days ago because it usually makes me feel better.  As I was in the water I found myself reminiscing that he was the one who taught me how to swim when I was only two years old. I swim a few days a week and this thought never occurred to me. Since he passed memories seem to flow.

He did not like me to swim in wavy sea waters, but one day when I was around eleven years old, I almost got drowned. The current had pulled me in and I was out of sight. He was a great swimmer, so he jumped into the water with his clothes on, to get me out. He could not find me because the waves and current kept me in. As a large wave kind of spat me out, I found myself on the shore. He was furious that I went into the water when the waves were man high and he had told me not to, but that day he explained to me theoretically how to swim in such waters, just in case it happened again, to ensure that I could survive.


“Never go against the waves, rise with them, fold with them and you will be able to go forward. Obey nature and the sea will give you way.”  were his words.

He liked nature, discussions on history and theology and so do I.

He was good looking, charming, humble, and very polite; yet spoke his mind openly without sugar coating what he has to say, while managing not to offend anybody. I never heard him yell at anyone.

As a little girl I thought that he was my ally. I knew he would buy me the facial paint set that mom refused to buy (knowing that I would make a mess), which he did. Mom was the disciplinary, he was the fun daddy. If I really misbehaved, he would just say,


“I will tell your mom.”


I would object saying “No come on, you cannot do that!” In my mind we had a code of honor, we were good friends.

He had taught me how to play poker when I was six or seven. I have no idea how to play now, I completely forgot, but at the time he let me win each and every time. Of course as a little girl, I was so sure that I was beating him and that I was a terrific card player.

One day as we were walking down the street, he told me that I could go to him whenever I had a problem, no matter what my problem was. I was probably seven years old and had just started school when this conversation occurred.

I said “OK” after a small moment of silence, I asked


“Daddy what’s a problem?”

He laughed and told me that as I grew up, I may come across situations when I do not know what to do and that I would never need to hide them from him. I should just go to him and he would help me.

As a child I desired to have a problem to share with him, it seemed like a privileged situation, where I would be sharing a secret with him.

Sadly later in life, he was the last person that I ever felt that I could go to when I encountered a troubled situation. However, recently I had realized that whenever we spoke, his calm voice was calming me too.

When I received the call last week that informed me that he had passed in the morning I found myself bursting into tears hysterically. I did not know what to do with myself, nor called anyone. My mother has a way of feeling me; she popped by unannounced and found me in tears. She tried to ease my pain. It has only been a week, so the sudden crying crises kick in at the least expected moments, but I know that time is the only thing that can help relieve the pain. I have to wait it out.

Meanwhile I have puppies who naturally have no idea of what goes on in my life, who cry when hungry, distract me by being naughty and kiss me relentlessly which in fact helps. My grown doggies make me go out and walk in the freezing weather because they need to relieve themselves, which is good because not much else could get me out the door for a leisurely walk these days. Since they enjoy the snow, they take their time too. They must feel my sorrow as they do not much leave my side, especially Shylo. He is always right by my side these days. Work continues as usual. Actually I had to attend work matters the day I got the news, as the next day. It made me wonder how people manage to grieve by putting things on hold. Silence seemed more painful the first two days. I know time will help me, ease my sorrows.

In movies death always causes people to see things with a new perspective. I realized that it is true. Putting things off when there are emotions involved is really not a good idea. We really do not know what’s next. So I find myself more expressive of my affection, even towards those who might not so much suspect it….


Filed under love, Pet Love, Uncategorized

The Nouveau Riche

I was chatting with my father the other day and somehow the subject went to my great-great-great grandfather from his side. About 150-200years ago he was a scholar and a large property owner. This was a period before modern Turkey was formed. Aside from managing his vast properties, he was a perfume maker. Mastering a job of skill was common in Ottoman tradition. Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent for example was a great conquer but also a jewelry maker. My ancestors from the father’s side were into pleasant scents. My great-great-great grandfather had built a splendid Hamam for personal use. It was destroyed in time, but when he had built it, it was famous for its superbness. This also explains my passion for perfumes, scented creams, and spa days. It runs in the family for over 5 generations, if not more.  

After the conversation was over I realized something about my family. Both from the Mother and the Father’s side they have been around long before the formation of modernTurkey. This gives me information about the era that cannot be learned from books.

The common conception is that with the formation of the Turkish Republic, women have been liberated. It is true that Atatürk changed the law, so that women could vote decades before French or Italian women. Then again life for women during the Ottoman era was never the way it has been in other Muslim countries.

My Mother’s grand mother for example was the daughter of another vast property owner. Her husband was very well educated, yet not as wealthy as herself. Education seemed more important as her family was already very well off and culture was very much valued within the family. She was a well read, elegant lady surrounded by servants, but also very sporty. She could ride her horse as well as most men, if not better. In the early nineteen hundreds, one day her husband went hunting with his crew and they got snowed in, in the mountains. The crew came back without her husband. They told her that the blizzard was too severe; they could not possibly reach the area where he was lost.

Her response was simple;

I am not leaving my husband to die in the blizzard!

She hopped on a horse, went into the blizzard, climbed the supposed impossible to reach area, found her husband in an unconscious state. She got him on her horse all by herself and brought him back to safety. She had saved his life while risking her own without hesitation and none of the men in the crew had her courage. Years later, she divorced the same husband because she did not want to be with him anymore. Not only was she strong but very independent too.

One of her daughters, who would be my Mother’s aunt became one of the first female bank directors, when Atatürk was putting Turkey through a series of revolutions.  As a bank director, there were male employees reporting to her. Considering the mother that had brought her up this was not a problem. In this period there were not many female managers, in the world yet. The men in my mother’s side of the family have been respecting women as their equal for more than 150 years, which is as far as it came up in family stories. Then there are things that one does not learn from stories but they simply run in the family. The importance of proper language skills is one of them. My Grand Parents from both sides have passed away, but my Mother’s uncle is still alive.  When he speaks, his Turkish is so refine, yet his abilities of precise expression are so naturally advanced that it almost sounds like poetry. He is equally fluent in German as he studied Economics in Germany. This was a period long before the gastarbeiter era, but a time when Turks and Germans still had an ongoing alliance left from Ottoman relations. Anyhow I was educated in the US and upon my return, I was using some English words while speaking Turkish. I recall precisely how my mother warned me that this was an ignorant person’s trait.

“An educated person should be able to express themselves very well in their native language and then they can also be very fluent in multiple more languages. “were her words. Needless to say that it did not take me too long to clear up my Turkish, to the extend that I’ve become a published writer in my native tongue.

Getting back to the subject of women’s liberation along with the formation of the republic; there are so many stories in my own family that the idea that women were completely disrespected during the Ottoman era and then suddenly completely liberated with the formation of modern Turkey is absurd. Atatürk has saved the nation by showing great leadership when the Empire was falling apart. He did put the nation through a series of revolutions, which were necessary to create a better life for the public in general. He was a great leader.

Lately however some blame him for anything that may have gone wrong, while others blame every thing that went wrong on his ‘absence’. The truth of the matter is that the nation went through many changes and some important bricks that create the foundation of any society were neglected.

How did that happen?

The Nouveau Riche

Naturally every revolution creates its own power figures. As the country was re-built after the war, new opportunities were formed. Those who were close to the new government became very rich, in maybe a decade of time. Some of these families are still very wealthy. As Modern Turkey is not even a hundred years old, the grandfathers of these people who did not come from a fortunate upbringing but seized the opportunities presented to them, go mostly two generations back. The Grandfathers who made the money, passed away within the last decade. Some of them never lost their country side accent. Their stories have given hope to the rest of the society.

Servants or small time merchants that made it to be the tycoons of the country!

The fact that they did not belong to a certain high class, could not stop them from achieving success. It all sounds promising, only the ways to all those riches were not all that innocent. Turkey had gone through a period were foreign goods were banned and a few families had monopolized the market. The close relations to the government had helped them all the way. The law was as good as, at their disposal. This happened after Atatürk had already passed away. The shift of money to a different class has somehow affected the rest of the culture as well. Nowadays it is almost impossible to come across anyone well off, whose ancestors were not peasants. Many who like to consider themselves as members of a certain elite, link their own past to the days that the republic was formed and almost denounce the periods prior to that.

I often hear words such as “The Ottomans were ignorant!”

My natural response is, “Who do you think the Ottomans are?”  They are our past. It took me a while to figure out the depth of the ongoing polarization in the nation. Lately it is almost like some Turks accept the Ottomans as their past and have a disliking against Atatürk and others dislike the Ottoman periods and accept the history of Modern Turkey as their past.

I must explain for my readers who are not familiar with Turkish history that the above expressed distinction is absolute nonsense and is not based on historical facts but more about a desire to be related to a certain period in the past more than another period.

Otherwise by historical means of definition, the Ottoman Empire was formed and lead by Turks, and when it fell apart after WWI, a tough war had to be fought to fend off foreign invasion, after which Modern Turkey was formed, with the leadership of Atatürk.

Atatürk Next to a Young Teacher

Anyhow the nouveau riche, have strictly identified themselves with the modern values of the new formed republic such as secularism. Their two generations old, vast amounts of money,  along with lack of class has made vulgarity more acceptable among the new elite. In the more traditional Turkish higher class upbringing, flashing off material possessions is considered distasteful. Treating the less fortunate with nothing but kindness is one of the unspoken obligations of members of a class that is accustomed to be served for many generations, thus the nouveau riche wannabeswho are clueless of such details, make a point of being harsh with the waiter that attends their table. The wannabes are those who look up to the wealthy as role models and imitate their lack of manner, by doubling or tripling it. The unfortunate result is banal behavior to have some sort of acceptance within the culture.

Ironically within the last decade a new group of “nouveau riche” is being formed. The mildly Islamist party has been running the country for a decade and those who are close to them have become richer.  Now the two generation old rich families, who did not care to do anything for the country for decades, look down on the newly rich ones, and blame them for destroying the country. Fifteen years ago some of these key families had a lot of influence over many important areas such as the media, the military, even the changes in law.

Now they almost claim guardianship over Atatürk’s legacy of secularism, but what most fail to see is that Atatürk tried to plant the seeds of turning Turkey into a “People’s State”.

Many followers conveniently, missed that point as it would interfere with their “Monopolize the Market” agenda. Three decades ago the importation of many items were banned, punished by jail time and the whole nation could only buy products produced by certain family businesses that turned into empires in a short period of time.

Another point that was missed was guarding cultural values. Naturally the Nouveau Riche, some of which controlled the media, was not bothered by the erosion of the language. Their own parents did not speak “High Turkish” either, so why should it be important to create role models, who would ensure that such values would not be lost to new generations?

Demure is one of the important signs of the traditional Turkish elite class. Sadly it has become rare to come across and is certainly not imitated by the new generations.

The mildly Islamist newly rich families are under the illusion that before Atatürk everyone was extremely religious. My Mother’s father was an atheist. He may have lived his adult life during the modern Turkey era, but previous generations of his family were not very religious either. I keep referring back to my own family because these days, each end of the polarized nation seems to have a different idea on how things used to be.

The fact of the matter is that a certain class was modern also during Ottoman times. Atatürk made an effort to extend that modernity to the rest of nation, while making revolutions that would help the commoners receive better education and have better rights through the democratic voting system. After he passed away, those who claim to share his views have not done much to ensure that the country would become a functioning  people’s state. As explained above everyone seemed busy, while a few families were monopolizing the market. After decades of negligence and looking down on country men by the rulers, the mildly Islamist party appeared to show more concern about the public’s basic needs. In return the people have embraced them.

Some complain that the culture is being eroded due to the shift of power, but the culture had been eroding long before that and the previous nouveau riche have not set the best example.  They are vulgar and distasteful, so are the new ones. The only upside for the people is that the new power figures feel more obliged to embrace the people, which is ironically more in the steps of Atatürk’s legacy……..go figure!

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Islam, Society, Uncategorized

The Art of Communication

Puppies Responding to Words with Kisses

These days I have something special yet temporary in my life. Since I know that it cannot last forever, I try to savior every moment. My doggie had given birth and now the puppies are about two months old. They are such a delight to be around, it is heavenly. I wish they could always remain so cute. Every moment I spend with them they bedazzle me with a different move. A few days ago I noticed that they were responding to the sound of food dropping into their bowl. As soon as they hear it they come running inside from the garden. All of them hop with a sense of urgency, it is cute.When  I am not around to pay attention, I do not like to let them stay outdoors. So when I have to leave the house, to get them to come inside I would pour some food in the bowl and they would all run in. Today they were full and the weather was too nice, so three of them did not come to the sound. I started talking loudly in the high pitch voice that I only talk to them saying “Baby, baby, baby my sweet baby” then I heard them hopping in rush, to come kiss me.

 Of course my heart melted right then and there!

I was so touched that they were showing the same kind of enthusiasm to the idea of coming in to kiss me that they normally show towards food. In a puppy’s life, food is basically all they care for, as they mainly eat, play and sleep. Not that grown doggies are much different but at least they understand when I say “NO” whereas the puppies seem under the impression that “NOOO!” means “Go right ahead!”

Anyhow to make a long story short, their presence and every behavior makes me very happy. I am used to getting covered in tiny little muddy paw prints all over me, as they like to climb onto me, the way they climb onto each other. When I squat, they kiss me, bite me, and pull my hair, all with tremendous enthusiasm.

I go through my days with major contrast in the way I look, as I like chic attires, which is normal but becoming so muddy everyday is new to me. When I come back to my life with fine clothes, business meetings and a polished look, I find myself eager to go back to my muddy little rascals.

Treating Art as a Simple Form of Currency

A short while ago I attended to an art event. This was neither the first nor the last art event that I would visit, but there was something significant about it that made me think of the experience later on. I was invited to a private lounge within the venue and the bank that owns the launch hired an art expert to walk us through the galleries.

I went to college inSan Francisco, so I imagined this occasion would be something like in mySan Franciscodays. People of the Bay Area are very open minded and seeing a new dimension of anything and looking for depth is verySan Francisco. The Hippie move started in Haight Ashbury (San Francisco) toured the world, ended in Berkeley (Bay Area). Therefore gatherings of all sorts were always interesting in this town.

Anyhow, my experience at this occasion was nothing like that; in fact I was surprised with the banking lady who approached me at the VIP launch. She told me that art is a good investment.

Ok it is!

But the way she built up to this sentence made me feel like, in her mind that’s all it is.

I kindly said “Is that so?”

She kept telling me the profits some people made.

As she was going on, I had a flash back vision in my mind the way it happens in movies.

A few years ago at the same event I fell in love with a painting. It was a couple kissing. Nothing original about it, but I could hardly break away from it. My mother bought it and that weekend on the Sunday art section of most papers’, it was featured as one of the most outstanding items. I had no idea when I fell in love with it, but mom was not the least bit surprised. I was drawn to it as it had moved me, simple as that!

For me, in spite of the regularity of it’s theme that was no ordinary kiss!

I had kissed that way, felt that way…it had spoken to my heart

Of course I did not tell this story to the banking lady.

She would probably look at me and think that I am a romantic fool, which I certainly am!

 I just sat there as she went on.

When the tour started, the expert’s lack of passion made me feel a little disappointed but I did not want to disrespect her, by simply walking away.

Then I heard someone whispering in my ear “Have you had enough? Shall I save you?” A friend of mine who owns a gallery was exhibiting at this event, and the person whispering in my air with the most amused facial expression was her father.

I said, “Yes please” 

There I had my excuse to walk away.

Later, my friend introduced me to the artist who was displaying his work through her gallery. The poor man shook my hand and told her, “Yes I noticed her. She actually looked at my paintings.”

So were others just chatting away without bothering to see what’s on display?

No Need for Words When the Heart Speaks

Then a few days later, when I was in my muddy paw print look, walking with my dogs who cannot stop hugging me, right after they jump in mud, the owner of a fish restaurant by the Boshphorus that I walk pass everyday approached me. He asked me if I could maybe help them move their dog Tommy, to the terrace. Tommy is literally bigger than me. He is only seven months old and when he is tied outside he likes to hug Delilah and me as well. (more paw prints) I love the little giant. His owner must have seen us interact. The Chef came as well and they started telling me how Tommy does not want to climb stairs and because of his strength, he cannot be pulled up or anything, he needs to be convinced.

It is not very common in my culture for men, to ask a small framed woman to help with a giant of a dog, so I was pleasantly surprised.

It got me thinking later, why would they think that Tommy would obey me, as opposed to them? Then I realized that they see me communicate with my doggies all the time.

Yes! I talk to my doggies with full sentences and I know they understand me very well. They may not be able to talk back with words but they sure express themselves. The trick is that I talk through my heart and doggies acknowledge that immediately.

It also made me realize that sometimes I am better at understanding what a dog says without words than what a person says with words. So the contrast is not only in my clothes but my worlds.

Why do people have to complicate everything?

The banking lady was standing in a venue surrounded by items created by other human beings who try to express themselves in other ways than saying things directly; possibly more bold, more striking ways, yet all she could focus on was that someone, not even herself, someone could make money off this.

The inability to enjoy beauty for what it is must be some kind of curse.

What I love most about all forms of art, is that very communication aspect that connects us all. A song can make millions of people tap into the same emotion. The one who composed it, not only connected millions under the same feeling, but also let’s them express their feelings through his/hers musical ability. Those who are better at putting their emotions into their work and letting it speak to others are considered better artists, because more are drawn to their work.

A lot of things are much simpler than they seem. People sometimes build a clutter that acts as a barrier of joy. Going through motions for the sake of appearances is one of the sneakiest bliss stealers but people do it all the time.

Whether it is time with puppies, an art event, a concert or a good dinner, we all try to relax and enjoy in our spare time, that only happens when we simplify it and appreciate the actual thing instead of getting lost in the sideshow, such as who we see there, who gets to see us, what is profitable…..

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Joy, love, Pet, Uncategorized

Could a Religion be About Terrorism?

It has been a decade since the 9/11 attacks. The world was shocked to see how vulnerable America was against such a horrible strike. At first, the enemy was the terrorist organization Al Qaeda headed by Osama Bin Laden. In time the enemy became Islam. It was interesting to see the change in perception.

In 2003 Al Qaeda bombed the HSBC headquarters, the British Embassy and some Jewish Temples inIstanbul. In spite of the strategic places where the bombs were placed, the people who died were mostly Turks, Jewish and Muslim. Bin Laden had no problem attacking a Muslim nation and he was not yet perceived as the symbol of Islam by Christian countries.

How that happened often puzzles me, although I recall reading articles on the subject in the late nineties, long before 9/11 had occurred. Political forecasts at the time were suggesting that the threat of communism is going to be replaced by the threat of Islam. Frankly, it seemed a bit far off at the time. I had grown up in a secular Muslim country. The pieces I read were suggesting that the American public needs an enemy and with the cold war ending, communism could no longer be considered much of a threat, so it was going to be Islam.

Time proved the argument to be true. Fifteen years later we see an American public, with the idea that Islam means terror.

Could that really be the case? Could a religion that has the second largest following in the world be about terrorism?

“Come on who is going to believe that?” is what crossed one’s mind back in 1997.

Hollywood movies from the cold war era always picture the Russian as the bad guys and movies dated after 2001 always portray the Muslim, mostly Arabs as the bad guys.

How is this relevant?

It is no secret that the majority of the public is very much influenced by such movies. Not only in America but in most countries the general public does not have in depth information on history, or cultures of different nations.

The fact that Al Qaeda placed bombs in Istanbul makes them the enemy to Muslims as well. Yet the perception was never so, it was more like Osama calls for Jihad, he does it in the name of Islam so all Muslims shall be in agreement with him.


The world of Islam may not at all be in agreement with Al Qaeda but there is another point that seems to be missed, which often puzzles me. Millions of Muslims had died in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine.

 How is that they do not matter?

What kind of mindset justifies attacks when they come from one side and condemns them when from a different side?

This draws my attention back to the Hollywood movies. They create a myth that is fun to buy into. In most of these movies,  American values are highlighted in every possible way, where people matter! America is mostly featured as the invincible police of the world, the country that ends disputes and makes things right. The truth however turned out to be a little different. When Housni Mubarek, tried to hold on to his dictatorship, before it was known to the world that the people of Egypt were ready to die, before backing down, President Obama made a statement saying ” Our priority in the region is stability, over democracy.”

The rest of the world interpreted this as “We get on with this dictator, he listens to us, tough luck that the people are not fond of him.”

After a courageous fight of the people, everyone decided to support the public as opposed to the dictator.

How is this relevant?

Well, all these movies make it look like American soldiers are in the Middle-East or Afghanistan, trying to establish democracy for the people. Those who fight back are never perceived as people who defend their country, but surely terrorists.

Arabs live in caves, in most of these movies. I’m sure the writers of those movie scripts have no idea that the Algebra class that they possibly struggled with is named after the Arabian chemist Al-Gebir. 

Yes! It is the Arabs who advanced the world in something that is needed in many fields from Aerospace to computing.

The word Checkmate comes from the Arabic Shah-Mat. French borrowed their word from Arabic shah mat “the king is dead”. The Arabic phrase is made up of shah “king”, a word borrowed from Persian (as in the Shah of Iran) plus mat “died” from Mata “to die”.

The oldest known Chess books or parts thereof are in Arabic, written about 850 AD.

Yes! Arabs were writing books on chess, long before the western world ever heard of the game.

Aristotle’s teachings were first written in Arabic and later translated into Greek from the Arabic, scriptures. Guess why? Because the Eastern world had the appreciation to write his work before the rest could recognize his importance.

Ibn Sīnā, or Avicenna as he is better known, was an outstanding Persian scientist around the beginning of the 11th century; he was the true successor to Aristotle. His writings on medicine and drugs, which were particularly authoritative and remained so until the Renaissance, did much to bring the works of Aristotle back to Europe, where they were translated into Latin from Arabic.” (

Ibn Sina recognized and made Aristotle known to the East in 11th century, the Renaissance happened between the 14th and 17th century.

It took the European three to five hundred years to acknowledge their own philosopher and for that they needed the Arabic scripts.

Ibn Sina also wrote medical textbooks in Arabic, which doctors like Maimonides used all over the Abbasid Empire and (once they had been translated into Latin) all over Europe too all through the Middle Ages. Ibn Sina may have been the first person to realize that you could catch diseases like measles or smallpox or tuberculosis from other people.

I could go on with many more examples, but the point that I’ve been trying to establish is that Arabian or Persian scientist and philosophers have advanced the world in vital areas such as medicine, science, philosophy and much more. Portraying them as tribal people living in caves is simply absurd and shows ignorance of the portrayer. I do not mean to blame the world’s chaos on a bunch of movies but no one can deny their influence. The entertainment industry has no obligation to enlighten people. Then again all that misleading might have caused people to have a false sense of security while trapped in those buildings during 9/11 and kept them from trying to find a way out when they had the chance.

Al-Qaida’s attack on innocent civilians has been condemned by the world, but as mentioned earlier in the article they had attacked Istanbul as well, and killed Muslims. Terrorism is a terrible thing to suffer from but the assumption that anyone who follows the same faith or speaks the same language with the attacker is also a potential terrorist is just absurd.

Considering all the help of advanced technology in this time and age one would hope that members of different civilizations would understand each other, as opposed to clashing with one another. When a movie like the Avatar comes out, suddenly everyone loves and understands each other and nature…..One can only hope that that is the direction mankind will eventually be headed towards…..we are meant to complete each other not omit…..

Follow me on Twitter@banugokyar



Filed under Christianity, History, Islam, Joy, love, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized

Why was the UN Staff Killed In Afghanistan?

New York Times has reported that Friday radical Islamists killed Christians in Afghanistan. “Stirred up by three angry mullahs who urged them to avenge the burning of a Koran at a Florida church, thousands of protesters on Friday overran the compound of the United Nations in this northern Afghan city, killing at least 12 people, Afghan and United Nations officials said. “

It is terrible, and there is no excuse for their actions. They may be offended but killing innocent people over it, is just terribly cruel.

According to the Reuters report the rage and violence, has continued the next day.

”In the violence they also broke windows and burned chairs at the Zarghona High School for girls. The Taliban opposed girls’ education, and Kandahar was their spiritual heartland.

“I took part in the demonstration to curse the foreigners, but I had no weapon,” shopkeeper Rahim Mohammad said.

“But I don’t feel sorry for U.N. workers killed, our people are slaughtered by foreigners everyday.”

More volatile protests are possible across deeply religious Afghanistan, where anti-Western sentiment has been fueled for years by civilian casualties, and the Taliban.” (Reuters)

The Taliban did not even own up to the killings and claimed that these were Muslim reactions. Over-reactions would have been a more suitable word.

Looking into Afghan history would be needed to understand this hatred towards foreigners. The word Afghan was initially used to address the Peshtun (Patan) tribal people who lived in the valley. The Peshtuns in the mountains were addressed by their tribes name and used to move around in the area which is now the Afghanistan Pakistan border. Historically this society was formed of many clans and tribes that were tied through kinship, language and tradition. There was no national identity that united them.

However Sir Olaf Caroe who was a Major within the British Colony between 1946-47 had tracked Peshtun’s roots back to 550 BC. In 331 BC Alexander the Great had won a victory over the Persian Emporium. After that he travelled all the way to, what is today Afghanistan. Some Patan tribes like the idea that their forefathers were members of Alexander’s Macedonian army, which remained on this land.

The first Afghan dynasty was formed in 1747 by Ahmet Han from the Sadozai Klan. He was appointed to be the Afghan Han by the rest of the tribal leaders. The Dynasty did not last for too long and had been defeated by the Singhs at the time. However their reign did not last too long either. After the Singh war, the first British-Afghan war occured between 1838-1842. During this period the country was ruled by the Dost Muhammad Klan. Their good relations with the Russian caused a second British-Afghan war to break out, between 1878-1881. At the end of this war, both Russia and Britain recognized Afghanistan to be impartial, and the region was considered a buffer zone.

Mahmut Tarzi was the grand son of Payende Han, who was part of the dynasty. He lived in Damascus, which was Turkish territory at the time. He had this great desire, to create a unifying Afghan National identity, as he had been influenced by the “Young Turks” of the time, who were making reforms, which was later to be known as the foundation of modern Turkey.

Emir Habibullah, the leader of Afghanistan at the time, had invited Mahmut Tarzi to return to his home land in 1903. Having observed Turkish reforms, Tarzi was filled with enthusiasm to bring change to Afghanistan. He started publishing a newspaper with modern ideas called Serac Ül Ahbar in 1911. When Emir Habibullah was assassinated in 1919, his son Amanullah Han took his place. Amanullah was married to Tarzi’s daughter Sureyya. He appointed, Tarzi as the minister of foreign affairs. Tarzi had spent a long time on Turkish territory, thereby spoke multiple foreign languages. He visited the US, Russia and places in Europe. What used to be the collaboration of tribes was now a modern country. Afghanistan was part of the international political scene. In 1921 the British signed an agreement, recognizing Afghanistan’s independence in foreign affairs.

Atatürk, Queen Sureyya

Queen Sureyya, looked very modern and Afghanistan was following the Turkish example on modernization. Everything seemed fine, but the Queen’s modern outlook did disturb some circles. Eventually, Amanullah Han was overthrown and Bacik Saka took his place. He did not last long either, as the Peshtun people refused a Tajik leader. Nadir Shah from Amanullah’s family took the throne next, but was assassinated in 1933. His son Zahir Shah took his place and kept leadership until 1973, which was when his cousin Davud overthrew him.

Emir Amanullah Queen Sureyya of Afghanistan

So from 1903 to 1973 for about seventy years, despite some set backs the country was going forward, becoming a nation, as opposed to a community of united Klans. Although Amanullah, lost his throne over it, reforms were still happening and by 1960 the country seemed rather modern.

Davud lost his leadership to the communists in 1978. Soviet interference caused liberal intellectuals to flee. In 1992 Necibullah’s leadership was also overthrown, which caused the socialist intellectual’s to flee, as well.


Afghanistan in the 60

A region with not many intellectuals to lead has fallen into the hands of Taliban. Since 1838 the British and Russian have had interference in the region, later on the US joined as well. The hatred towards foreigners must be, based on the fact that for the last three centuries, foreigners had come to Afghanistan only for war. None of this justifies the hateful acts. This is a mere attempt, to understand the rage these people have towards life and why they cannot form a normal social environment, as opposed to the current situation where medieval rules are applied. They are not only cruel to foreigners, but also very cruel towards themselves. Life for women has become unbearable since 1996. It is so bad that they, burn themselves, to death. Maybe not as severe but men are also oppressed. The burning of the Koran must have seemed like a justifiable reason, for acting out the built in rage, from being constantly subjugated.

Looking at the photos from the 1960’s, it’s hard to imagine how Afghanistan became the way it is today.

Afghanistan in the 60

Clearly, with no intellectuals left around to help mold the ideas of a nation, while leading it, a country encounters great set backs. Combining this with constant foreign intervention, seems to push the nation back into medieval times. Most cruel leaders, use foreign intrusion as an excuse, to tighten the grip on their own people. It’s easier to have tyranny over less educated, therefore less civilized societies, as it keeps them from getting organized and demanding better conditions.

 “In the violence they also broke windows and burned chairs at the Zarghona High School for girls. The Taliban opposed girls’ education, and Kandahar was their spiritual heartland.”

The Taliban did not own up to the killings of the UN staff, but during the chaos, when everyone was focused on the killings, the girls’ school got destroyed as well, and that is how they tighten the grip just a little more…..

Follow me on twitter@Banugokyar


National Geographic Turkey, 2001 December, Ahmet Han


Filed under Christianity, History, Islam, Politics, Religion, Royalty, Society, Uncategorized

Was Looting Symbols of Deities Such a Good Idea?

Mexico is suffering from the looting of their historical artifacts.  According to the BBC report the spectacular headdress of Mexico’s last Aztec ruler, Moctezuma showcased at Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology is a replica.

                                                                                                                                                               *The original lies thousands of kilometers away in a collection at Vienna’s Ethnology Museum. Mexico has long wanted to see the original returned

It is a shame that the natives do not get to see or showcase artifacts of their own land. Looting of artifacts has been on going for a long time. Especially before and after the world wars, a lot of artifacts have been taken from their original locations.

**A magnificent 3500 years old Hittite Sphinx had been unearthed around 1906 in Turkey. It was considered one of the greatest discoveries. The Sphinx had been taken to Berlin to be restored, not to be kept, only to be restored, yet had never been returned and was still in the Pergamon Museum until recently. Turkey’s minister for culture Ertugrul Gunay had to give an ultimatum that German archeologists will not be allowed to continue, digging in Turkey, if they do not return the Sphinx.

It worked. Germany decided to return the master piece to Turkey.  One could argue that these items are universal treasures and it should not matter where they are displayed, as long as future generations get to see them, but it is hard to know who would be a better guard.

***Forty giant statues, were taken from a temple in the ancient settlement of Tell Halaf in what is now northern Syria, by German adventurer and diplomat Baron Max von Oppenheim, and caused a sensation when they came to Europe. Baron exposed them to a private museum in Berlin between 1930 and November 1943 when an allied bombing destroyed the place. The fire roasted artifacts of basalt, and water used to douse the flames caused the material to splinter into a thousand pieces.

They have recently been reassembled, after nine years of reassembling effort of 25 000 pieces. That was probably the most rewarding puzzle to be completed. The Pergamon Museum in Berlin presented the restored objects.

The point is that if they had remained in Syria, they would have been safe during World War II which is when they were destroyed.

Artifacts looted during that period are still being discovered, some of which are being returned to their rightful owners. ****According to the New York Times article, 370-year-old painting that belonged to a Jewish art dealer who fled the Netherlands around the time of the Nazi invasion in 1940 will be returned to his family by the J. Paul Getty Museum. (The Associated Press reported.)

The painting, “Landscape With Cottage and Figures,” done by Pieter Molijn around 1640, belonged to Jacques Goudstikker, a prominent dealer who died in a fall on a ship while fleeing the Nazis with his wife and son. His collection was looted, and some of the art ended up in the hands of the Nazi leader Hermann Goering, according to the Associated Press report.

In a written statement released Monday, museum officials stated: “Working in cooperation with representatives of the Goudstikker heirs, the Getty’s research revealed that the painting was in Goudstikker’s inventory at the time of the invasion in 1940, and that it was never restituted after World War II. Based on its findings, the Getty concluded that the painting should be transferred to the heirs.”

It sounds fair that the painting gets returned to the heirs of the original owner. Maybe the same principle should be applied to all looted artifacts and they should all be returned to their rightful claimers.

One of the world wonders had been removed from Turkey, Halicarnassus .The Halicarnassus Mausoleum had been shipped to England decades ago and is on display at the British Museum. Legend says that a Halicarnassus fisherman was very sad while the artifact was being uprooted from where it had been built around 350 BC, by architects Pytheos, Satyrus.  Skopas, Timotheos, Bryaris Leochares were the famous sculptors to work on the sides. It had been built by the Karian, who used to reside in the area at the time. (An ancient Western Anatolian Civilization) They worshipped the Anatolian Goddess Hecate. Ancient Egyptians  called the Karian” The bronze people who come out of the heart of the sea”. The fisherman said that the artifact will miss its home, miss the sea. They said “No worries we will paint the room that is displayed in blue.” It was blue for a while and then everyone forgot.

Looted items seem to be returned to their original spots. Who knows maybe one of these days headdress of Mexico’s last Aztec ruler, might find its way home or the Mausoleum might find its way back to Halicarnassus.

Most of the artifacts of ancient times, mean more than art, as they represent spiritual beliefs of the time. The forty giant statues, clearly did not agree with their new location, after being removed from Syria. Did bombs destroy them or did they destroy Berlin for all the cruelty happening at the time.

Who knows?

Mankind is still cruel and the hope is that one day that shall change.

The world is going through floods, wars, Tsunamis…. Would returning ancient spiritual objects home, be a symbol of the end of looting and help Aztec, Karian or other deities put the world right?

Maybe or maybe not, the point is that having looted artifacts decades ago, should not be an excuse for holding on to them.

Follow me on twitter@banugokyar







Leave a comment

Filed under Art, History, love, Uncategorized

American Diplomatic Cables on EU and Turkey

The leaked American Diplomatic cables have shown us an insight on many situations. The cables on Turkish acceptance to the EU are interesting. Correspondence from Embassy Hague in 2004, show that the Dutch were strong supporters of Turkey’s acceptance to the Union.

Ambassador Sobel’s comment at the time was:

 *“The Dutch governing elite want a Yes for Turkey and they seem confident that they can bring the nation as well as the rest of the EU along.”

Clearly, aside from the Copenhagen criteria that needed to be met by Turkey, Islam in Europe was one of the topics discussed by the members.

*De Gooijer rejected prejudice against Islam as a basis for opposing Turkey, with the below words:

We must not allow ourselves to be guided by fear, for example, of Islam. Raising barriers to any particular religion does not fit in with Europe’s shared values. Our opposition should be directed not against religions but against people and groups misusing their religion to get their way by force.”

Similarly, the Vatican Embassy cables from 2004 sound supportive of Turkey’s acceptance to the EU.

**Acting Holy See Foreign Minister Parolin reaffirmed August 18 that the Holy See remained open to Turkish EU membership. If Turkey meets the EU’s Copenhagen criteria, Parolin said, the Vatican sees no obstacle to EU membership.

Charge pointed out that as an EU member, Turkey could help to ease tensions between the Western and Muslim worlds, illustrating how a secular state with a Muslim population could cooperate with countries with a Judeo-Christian heritage.

The French stand against Islam in general seemed a bit different than Vatican or Hague according to the Paris cables in 2005. Stapleton the Paris Ambassador at the time reported on unrest of lower socioeconomic minorities.

 ***The perpetrators of the urban rampaging (refs) in France are by and large of Arab-African and Black-African background. In most cases, they are also Muslims, raising the question as to what extent their religious affiliation helps explain the explosion in France’s immigrant suburbs. There is widespread agreement that unemployment and lack of education, and not religious affiliation, are the primary factors underlying the angry hopelessness of urban youth.

Clearly, Stapleton was under the impression that unrest caused by low finances were interpreted as an Islamist act by the French, only because the citizens acting against poor life conditions, happened to be Muslims. Below was a clear example of how the reaction had nothing to do with Islam, yet the French labeled these people as strictly religiously motivated by trying to resolve it through religious leaders.

 “***GOF guilty of using religion?

¶9. (SBU) Interestingly, some see the government itself as guilty to some degree of having violated the principle of secularism it holds so dear. In a meeting with the rector of the Grand Mosque of Lyon on November 15, one Muslim religious leader’s criticized the government for violating France’s strict separation of the religious and the public. The Rector, Kamel Kabtane, took to task the government’s effort to use Muslim religious figures to calm the situation in troubled neighborhoods. Kabtane said that many of his fellow-clerics were also ambivalent about the French government’s call on religious leaders to “do the work of the government and security forces.” “If farmers started protesting”, said the Rector, “the government wouldn’t call on the Archbishop to resolve the situation.” He warned against attributing a religious dimension to socio-economic problems; there was a risk it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Stapleton’s comment on the Fundamentalist Islam Problem in France was very much different than what main stream media reported at the time. He describes the underclass youth as non Islamist, even though Muslim and points out France’s racist attitude against minorities.

“***The gangs of underclass youths who are the perpetrators of the car burnings and urban violence in France are not Islamists, nor are they at all motivated by religion. It is highly misleading to characterize them — as is often done in media coverage — as “insurgent” and “Muslim” youths. The anger felt by these youths stems from how they are trapped and without a futurefacing pervasive racial prejudice, and without the skills and education needed to get-a-life of employment and conventional respect.

Whether or not Islamic organizations and fundamentalist proselytizing will make significant inroads among the inhabitants of France’s immigrant suburbs of course depends on the effectiveness of the GOF’s social programs and the willingness of French society at large to face up to its pervasive prejudices against Blacks and Arabs.”

Going through all the above mentioned documents, it seems that six to seven years ago, American diplomats’ impression, which derived from dialogues with officials of EU members, was that Turkey was going to be accepted, if they met the Copenhagen Criteria.

They also reported on racist attitude against French citizens of Arab or black descent who were generally Muslim.

This week president Sarkozy visited Turkey, and expressed his stand against Turkey’s EU membership. It was reported in the German publication DW that Cyprus is one of the main reasons of oppositions.

****“EU countries unanimously agreed in 2005 to start talks with Turkey with the goal of full membership. But out of the 35 policy chapters that EU candidates must negotiate, Ankara has opened talks on only 13 since the accession negotiations began.

Talks on 18 chapters have been frozen because of opposition from France and other members and a stalemate over the divided island of Cyprus. No significant progress has been made since last July.”

Ironically according to the Hague cables from 2004, EU partners other than UK do not really engage in Cyprus. 


*¶12. (C/NF) Pollman suggested the EU might give the GoC, as an EU Member State, its due on the Cyprus trade and financial support issues while then expecting Papadopoulos to relent on Turkey. However, EU partners do not really engage on Cyprus since only the UK has any real interest in the island, she said, adding, What does Cyprus have these days, besides the Turkey card? And this means the EU has but little leverage over Cyprus; Pollman hoped that powers outside the EU will pressure Popadopolous to support Turkish accession, using whatever psychological, political, or other means that might work.”

The general impression from the cables is that Cyprus was never a priority; the more urgent areas that need change were as follows:

  • judges’ behavior,
  • concerns about torture,
  • access of Kurds to Kurdish language education,
  • free exercise of religion,
  • and the role of the military.

There has been significant change, on all of the above mentioned topics. Some of the points still need a lot of improvement and it is a work in progress.

The cables are not official statements from EU members but impressions of American Diplomats, which make them an excellent source, to get an insight on some of the unofficial, therefore unpolished views, in regards to the situation.

Given that in 2004 most EU members were leaning towards Turkey’s acceptance as a member, combined with the fact that Turkey has been working on the changes needed to join, Sarkozy or Merkel’s stand against Turkey, are possibly for other reasons than EU criteria issues.

France’s prejudiced attitude towards their Muslim citizens, portrays a completely different picture of the nation than the “Land of liberty” image that it has been benefiting from.

Turkey’s economic situation has changed a lot since 2004. It has been going forward while the rest of the EU is still going through “domino effect” financial crises.

 The uprising of China and India, the economical crises in the EU and the US, the revolutions in the Middle East, all signal tremendous change in the world, as well as shift of power.

So far, Turkey has gained more control from an economical and political point of view. Whether it will become part of the EU or gain momentum with no ties to anyone is yet to be seen.

Follow me on twitter@Banugokyar






Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Islam, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized

Analysis: The Effects of a Possible Neo-Ottoman Agenda

A recent article featured in the New York Times explains Turkish influence on Iraq.

Accordingly, Turk’s cultural influence in the region is explained to be more effective, than what was achieved through US invasion.

*“Turkey’s influence is greater in northern Iraq and broader, though not deeper, than Iran’s in the rest of the country. While the United States invaded and occupied Iraq, losing more than 4,400 troops there, Turkey now exerts what may prove a more lasting legacy — so-called soft power, the assertion of influence through culture, education and business.

While some Turkish officials recoil at the notion of neo-Ottomanism — an orientation of Turkey away from Europe and toward an empire that once included parts of three continents — the country’s process of globalization and attention to the markets of the Middle East is upsetting assumptions that only American power is decisive. Turkey has committed itself here to economic integration, seeing its future in at least an echo of its past. “

A few months ago, in another article featured by the New York Times, it was mentioned that Turks need to be kept in their lane. 

*“Turkey is seen increasingly in Washington as “running around the region doing things that are at cross-purposes to what the big powers in the region want,” said Steven A. Cook, a scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations. The question being asked, he said, is “How do we keep the Turks in their lane?”

Clearly the perception of Turkey’s effect over the region has changed within the last few months. The fact of the matter is that, a possible “Neo Ottoman” strategy seems to be taken more seriously than before. Turks had been a regional power in the area for centuries, so undermining the possibility, based on the country’s situation for the last few decades could be misleading.

 Turkish History Goes a Long Way

The first known mention of the term Turk applied to a Turkic group was in reference to the Göktürks in the sixth century. A letter by the Chinese Emperor written to a Göktürk Khan named Ishbara in 585 BC described him as “the Great Turk Khan.” The Orhun inscriptions (735 CE) use the terms Turk and Turuk. At the time they were in central Asia,

Turks have been ruling over the territory that we call Turkey now, for about a thousand years.

Following the 1071 Seljuk Turks victory over the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Manzikert and the subsequent conquest of AnatoliaOghuz clans began settling in present-day Turkey. By 1300, Turks had reached the Aegean coastline.

The Ottoman Empire was founded about 1307 by a Turk named Osman I.

It spread from Asia Minor beginning about 1300, eventually encompassing most of the Middle East, most of North Africa, and parts of Europe, including modern Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Rumania and Yugoslavia. In the Middle East, the Ottomans ruled Syria, Palestine, Egypt, parts of Arabia and Iraq. The empire reached around the Black sea and into the Caucasus in Central Asia, including Armenia. The Ottoman armies reached as far as the gates of Vienna, where they were repulsed for a second time in 1683, the height of their expansion on land. The map below shows the extent of the Ottoman Empire in 1683.


So Turks have been ruling over the above mentioned regions for centuries. They operated as a federal Emporium, where they allowed regions to hold on to their languages, religions and cultural practices. Some Turks were moved into a newly invaded territory, to establish Turkish Authority. Former leaders of regions were respected. Sometimes they even remained as leaders but had to pay taxes to the Emporium.

During the same era, the English or French were forcing their language and traditions upon invaded regions, whereas Turks did not. This helped subcultures to live on. Even after centuries under Turkish ruling, cultures were not getting lost.

After 1683 there was a gradual decline of the Empire. They were losing territory over a period of three hundred years. Some regions got autonomy first, then independence. Other regions went into French or English ruling. The loss of territory happened in chronological order as stated below.

1798-1801 Napoleon was in Egypt and Palestine.

1829: Greece ceded autonomy

1830: Serbia ceded autonomy; Northern Algeria is taken by France.

1832: Greece becomes independent.

1862: United Romania established.

1877: Second Russo-Turkish war (1877- 1878); Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and part of Bulgaria become independent by the Treaty of San Stefano.

1881: The Ottoman Empire accepts European financial control; Tunisia is taken by the French.

1882: Egypt is occupied by Britain.

1908: Bosnia occupied by Austro-Hungary, without a fight; Bulgarian independence.
1912: Libya is annexed by Italy.

1914: The Ottoman Empire enters the World War 1 in alliance with Germany,

1915-16: Between 600,000 and perhaps 1.4 million Armenians died during deportation.
1917: Beginning of British campaigns in Iraq, Palestine and Syria. This leads to several Ottoman defeats, and the following year the loss of the Middle Eastern territories.
1919:  Greece attacks Anatolia at Smyrna, conquers part of Western Anatolia.  
1920: The Ottoman Empire is forced to sign the Treaty of Sèvres, losing all Middle Eastern territories and part of Anatolia.
1922: Turks drive the Greeks out of western Anatolia under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk; The Ottoman Empire is abolished;

1923: Turkish Republic declared. 

1924: March 3: Caliphate abolished.

After many regions were lost and the Ottoman Empire almost completely fell apart, modern Turkey was formed in the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha. He was an eminent General of the empire and as a great leader managed to get the people to fight as soldiers. Old and young people, men and women the whole nation was fiercely fighting off, foreign invasion.

Although the Ottoman Empire was giving opportunities and high ranking positions to members of different nations, the Ottoman Empire was a Turkish Empire. Therefore modern Turkey was formed by the Turks. Others were taking advantage of the weakness and fighting Turks, to break off and get their freedom.

As can be seen above many regions did break off. Others such as Egypt, Bosnia or Tunisia had been invaded by the English, Hungarian or French, by which they were forced to accept superiority of invaders’ cultures and accept their languages.

Formation of Modern Turkey


Turkey was formed as a Turkish state just like the Ottoman Empire, except that tolerance for different cultural values was less. The idea of being a Turk was based on a principle, similar to the principle of being an American, in today’s world.

Anyone who was a citizen of Turkey had equal rights with the rest of the nation and their ethnical background was completely irrelevant. There were no ranks among ethnical backgrounds. The Ottoman Empire had expanded over so many regions, for so many centuries that to be a Turk had not much to do with ethnicity, race or color. The whole nation had been mixed. This was partially because racism was not part of the Empire’s culture. No region’s people were too good, or too bad not to mix through marriage.

Citizens of Modern Turkey have a variety of ethnical backgrounds. The Black Sea region has many Laz, Circassian and Georgian. The Aegean Region has many Bosnian and Albanian. The Southeast has Arabs, Kurds, Assyrian, and Armenian. Uzbek or Kazakh originated Turks are also part of the nation.

Being a Turk of different origin is something very common, embedded into the culture, the way it is very natural to be an Italian American or Irish American. The ethnical origin has secondary importance, if any.

Leaders of Modern Turkey


Many leaders that belong to different ethnical backgrounds have been elected by the majority, as not paying attention to ethnicity has been part of the culture for centuries. Turgut Özal served as a Prime Minister, later as a President of Turkey until 1993. He is known to be of Kurdish origin, and was very much loved by the whole nation as a leader of the nation.

CHP is currently the leading opposing party. The party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, belongs to a Kurdish ethnical background. He is the leader of a political party that is called the most elitist party of the nation.

In short, members of any subculture are not treated as a minority, for they can easily be embraced by the people and elected to run the country.



The Kurdish illegal Terrorist group PKK has been attacking Turkey for thirty years now. The PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan had been apprehended a decade ago and has been detained ever since. Terrorism has continued though.

Kurds want autonomy and they are bombing their way to freedom. The fact that PKK has been attacking city centers and thereby civilians for three decades, has not created a dislike of Kurds among the rest of the nation. The common idea among the people was that Kurds and PKK are different things, not every Kurd is a terrorist.

However during the last five years, things have changed. Kurds in general have started calling Abdullah Öcalan their leader. The fact that he has been detained for a decade, does not change the fact that, he is the leader of a terrorist organization that is acknowledged to be *illegal by the US and the EU. Bombings under his command have attacked all kinds of regions, including Istanbul and killed many innocent people.

The polarization between Turks and Kurds has been growing stronger on the Kurdish side. *Last month a Turkish singer has been shot to death, at a bar in Mersin (Turkey) by a Kurd, for not knowing Kurdish, therefore not being able to sing in Kurdish.

Lately, Kurds have been asking for Kurdish to become the official language of the whole nation. They want autonomy; at the same time they want the whole nation to acknowledge Kurdish as an official language.

It is very much disturbing for the rest of the country to accept Kurds’ desires, pushed by an act of terrorism, to be rewarded.

It is hard to imagine how this will unfold. History proves that autonomy is a pit stop before breaking away, from the nation.

Kurds want independence.

A recent article published by the Economist features the fierce attitude of Kurds in the region. According to the article:

“IT IS well known that Kurdish tribes took part in the mass slaughter by the Ottomans of around 1m Armenians in 1915. “Collaborating Kurdish clerics pledged that anyone who killed an infidel would be rewarded in heaven with 700 mansions containing 700 rooms, and that in each of these rooms there would be 700 houris to give them pleasure,” says Mala Hadi, an Islamic sheikh in Diyarbakir.

The neighbouring province of Mardin, Kurdish tribes continue to harass the handful of Christians who remain. Their main target is the Mor Gabriel Syrian Orthodox monastery. Perched on a remote hilltop, this is a 1,600-year-old monastery.”

The rest of the population was convinced that Kurds had been victimized in the region, through many stories told by them lately. I personally was sympathizing, trying to understand how oppressed they had been. It is more difficult to empathize lately as they are openly threatening to attack via PKK. They say, “Meet our demands while we have seized fire or else, PKK will go on attacking” during news channel forums.

Every American movie says “Never negotiate with a terrorist”

If Kurds get Independence through terrorism, it will probably not be a good example for the terrorist organizations of the rest of the world. *Especially at a time that EU is busy passing laws, where they can strip off citizenships of French or Italian citizens with foreign origin when they commit a crime. The law in the EU is justified due to threat of terrorism.

Kurds have announced that they want their own army, flag, parliament, official language in the South East of Turkey. As they comfortably threaten to continue terrorist attacks, should their desires not be fulfilled, the intention to reason with them becomes tricky.

It offends the rest of the nation, to imagine to be bullied into giving up territory.

Imagine Al Qaida openly asking for land and threatening to continue bombing should their desire not be fulfilled.

Kurds have been making it sound like there are only Kurds and Turks in this nation. As explained above there are so many different ethnical backgrounds, all of which have the same opportunity, to claim that one is oppressed for their ethnical background, when members of that ethnicity have in fact run the whole country, is just not right.  The rest of the nation is almost portrayed as racist, which is absurd as there is no pure race or ethnicity, the whole nation consists of mixed backgrounds.

Kurds have made it very clear what they want. They are absolutely right, wanting to hold on to their native language and traditions, but taking a road towards separation or refusing to learn Turkish seems a bit too much.

Going to the army is mandatory in Turkey, so every Turkish man has to serve. Many have died, (aprox. 40.000 troops) fighting off PKK (the illegal Kurdish terrorist organization). After so much blood has been shed to defend the country, to be bullied by the PKK, naturally offends the rest of the nation. They make it sound like the Kurdish situation is a concern of the southeast of Turkey only. However men from all over Turkey have been drafted to fight in the region for decades.

It needs a lot of diplomatic tact, to find a solution to the problem that appears to be in a dead end. A solution that makes Kurds and Turks equally comfortable has seemed impossible due to, what seems like a conflict of interest.

One cannot ask men to die in this fight and then simply hand over the territory, without offending the families of those who died defending it. On the other hand, peace needs to be brought into the territory and Kurds have demands.

It was not until I read the New York Times piece that I mentioned in the beginning of this article that a third option occurred to me.

As the article clearly states, Turks and Kurds get along  very well in Iraq. One of the most famous singers of Turkey has Kurdish origin and is very much loved in the Middle East. The “Neo-Ottoman” formation would naturally cover a much larger area than modern Turkey. This is not the era of invasion anymore, but the era of forming Unions. EU is a clear example to that.

EU’s plans over the Balkans have been clearer, through some of the information that we have been exposed to, by the leaked US Diplomatic cables.

 “Levitte noted that of the five major conditions required to transfer authority in Bosnia from the UN High Representative to an EU High Representative, four have been fulfilled, and only the question of division of state property remains. This final condition should not alone “block all progress,” especially as the current UN team in Bosnia is no longer effective. France wants to see the transfer of authority to a new EU team in November, as the rapprochement to Europe is an effective “carrot” to encourage the Bosniaks to continue progress in necessary reforms.


Levitte expressed optimism that a new Greek government would be “more solid” and allow greater flexibility for progress in the Greek-Macedonian name dispute. A/S Gordon agreed that either a more solid Conservative government or a Socialist government would be a stronger, more flexible partner in the negotiations. He expressed hope that if the international community could convince Macedonia to abandon the idea of a referendum and get Greece to abandon the necessity of changing passports, then progress could be made.”

When we check the above Historical Ottoman Map, combined with current information, it becomes clear that, as the new map of the world is being formed, every party is trying to gain strength as ever. EU wants to have power over Bosnia and ensure Greek –Macedonian power formulation.

US seems to be the only party who is still using invasion as a tool to control regions, whereas the rest is looking to include regions into the Unions, which they have power over. Nobody can deny that French and German influence over the EU is stronger than the rest of the members.

England’s long standing experience in handling situations and gaining the upper hand without getting their hands dirty, but through diplomacy is very well known. The fact that they managed to easily position themselves, as the decision maker of Julian Assange’s future, who is important to the US, is a clear example to that.

Assuming that a “Neo-Ottoman” agenda is set into motion, Turkey would be forming a Union that possibly extends from the Middle-East to the Balkans. The cultural and religious commonalities would make things easy, as can also be understood from the NYT article.

Should Turkey aim for power of such vast territory, Kurds having autonomy would be viewed, in a totally different context. It would not be about giving land, from existing territory but allowing autonomy to create harmony, while establishing leadership over a much larger region that extends over many different countries.

What is one more separate nation, if you intend to have power over all?

This of course would not be an intended oppressive power, but as the example of the EU, a regional Union based on religious and cultural similarities.

It is possible for such a Union to be formed. After all it has not even been a century since Turks lost the territory that they ruled over in the Middle-East.  Yet to lead it, positioning Turkey as an Islamist nation would be absolutely necessary. It is called mildly Islam in the West, but I am not sure that “mild” is a concept that truly exists among Islamists.

Turkey is rapidly becoming more and more conservative. Alcohol bans are being enforced with certain excuses. There are efforts to send little kids to school with headscarves which is against the current law. The police are entering public steakhouses and giving families who are having Sunday dinner a hard time, for consuming a glass of wine with dinner, in front of their kids, which could never be an issue ten years ago.

Art galleries, in downtown Istanbul have been attacked by radically religious neighbors, for serving wine during receptions. The police simply did not arrive, leaving the art crowd terrified under attack. Visitors of the gallery were hospitalized, yet nobody was charged, which could be perceived as a message to stick with the religiously accepted behavior or you are on your own.

Every news channel is featuring a guest who preaches the ways of Islam almost thrice a week. Although the system is still secular, Diyanet which is the religious ministry is getting more say on people’s lives, frowning upon the idea of celebrating New Years Eve, as it is a Christian tradition. Those who guard secularism and modernism are mostly behind bars with allegations of crimes without any proof.

*A new law just passed, ensuring that the accused can be held behind bars with no proof of guilt, for ten years. They call it holding in content while the trial is ongoing. This enables to practically put anyone away that has been accused of a crime with no evidence, for ten years. That is a long way from democracy or human rights.

EU has rejected Turkey for a long time. Eventually, Turkey has turned towards the east. A Neo-Ottoman formation that ensures Turkey to become a regional power could surely, seem  much more beneficial for the country, as opposed to being part of the EU.

Having, better human right conditions, was one of the major requirements for entering the EU. The motive, to create that environment seems to have eroded which is sad for the people.

42% of the nation had said “No” to the latest referendum, where the leading party had asked the people’s permission, for change. In other words, 42 % are keen on holding on to the western outlook of the civilization, as well as secularism.

That is a high number to completely disregard. The tactic applied in Iraq which is expressed in the above mentioned NYT article, is no different that the tactic applied within the nation.

Imposing change through, changing cultural values.

The law does not say you cannot consume alcohol, but you can be beaten up by narrow minded people while doing so and not be protected by the state, is the feeling that people have although nobody says so. Recently, a woman’s house was robbed while she was out at night, when she reported it, the police asked her, “What were you doing out so late?” People are getting used to the idea of the possibility of being neglected if attacked, while not abiding by religious rules.

What next?

Turkey will possibly never become as strict as Iran, as being the bridge between the east and the west is one of the strong suits that are needed to be accepted as a power figure by others in the region. Still, the absolute freedom of a secular state will probably not be seen anytime soon.

Kurds will possibly get the autonomy that they desire, if a “Neo-Ottoman” formation should take place. The way they play until such a date, will most likely, still have a determining effect.

Members of the illegal Kurdish terrorist organization Hizbullah (no ties with Lebanon) have suddenly been released out of jail this week, including those who were meant to be kept there for life. Now there are two illegal players, who have great influence over Kurds, PKK who is majorly playing the ethnical root solidarity card and Hizbullah which is playing the religious Islamist brotherhood among Kurds card.

Allowing the Hizbullah to get back into the game, by setting them free would be a smart way to tone down the ethnical agenda and help Unite under the religious agenda, which would not appear far from the possible plans of the rest of Turkey, (in the case of a Neo-Ottoman agenda) while still giving some freedom on national Kurdish rights.

Possible Obstacles?

There is an upcoming election in 2011. The 42% that said “No” to the referendum last year, could support the leading opposing parties CHP and MHP. Should AKP lose their sole spot after the election and end up in a possible coalition, with one of the leading opposing parties, secular values would possibly be pushed back into the culture.

Part of Turkey seems to be leaning towards the East while another part is leaning towards the West. The part that is leaning towards the west, wants to live by western values, even if Turkey does not become part of the EU. Time will show the turn out, but for now the assumed “Neo-Ottoman” agenda seems to have no apparent set backs.

It is hard to tell if Europe would have been better off, befriending the old enemy in an attempt to keep them close, or keep pushing away thereby giving an incentive to formulate other Unions, that might grow strong.

America’s policy in the region will possibly have a determining effect, on which way things will lean.

Follow me on Twitter@banugokyar



Filed under Christianity, History, Islam, Politics, Religion, Society, Uncategorized

Ottoman Royal Family Stories Told By Turkish Princess

Yesterday, I was watching a history show, which is one of my favorite shows. Historians gather and talk about the past. They show real documents and always have very interesting guests. It was interesting to see “Princess Hanzade Özbaş” on air. She is the great grand daughter of the latest heir to the Ottoman Empire. Her great grandfather Sultan Vahdettin had been pictured as a traitor in Turkish history books.

She explained how difficult history class had been for her as a child. Her teacher was making her, read out loudly the passage that explains what a traitor, a terrible person Sultan Vahdettin was. Of course being only a little girl, she ran out of class crying;

 “My Grandfather is not a traitor!”

It is very well acknowledged by historians now  that he was never a traitor, yet I am not sure if they changed the context of school books. Either way, it was ridiculous of her teacher, to torture a little girl like that, knowing who she is. Although she was living with her grandmother “Who in fact, is Ottoman History” little Princess Hanzade kept failing Ottoman History classes throughout high-school. She went to college abroad.

Princess Neslişah Evliyazade

It had been a littler easier for her daughter  Neslişah Evliyazade. She says, it feels interesting to realize that her grand parents lived at the Dolmabahçe palace which she only gets to visit like a regular tourist. Although, the family has no influence or title anymore, they represent Turkish royalty and set an example of the traditions of Turkish aristocracy.

Princess Neslişah explained in one interview that the importance of education preceded everything. Ladies of the royal family were very well educated; they spoke minimum three foreign languages. Sultan Vahdettin’s grand daughters supported themselves through working hard, as everything was taken away from them. Unfortunately the princes were unable to do so, as most had been educated by the military, to become great soldiers, which left them unqualified to find immediate jobs while in exile.

Princess Hanzade’s mother met her husband while she was an instructor at Princeton University in America during World War II. Her husband was teaching at Princeton just like her. He was Turkish as well, although not royal, he came from a very wealthy family.

Princess Hanzade was telling these little stories about Ottoman life that opened yet another window to the Emporium’s ways. She explained that, daughters of Sultan’s were getting married with the husbands they chose. The grooms had no choice of refusal. The marriages were taking place on paper, prior to meeting each other. Then the husband still had to go ask for the bride’s hand. At that point some brides were known to make the husband wait, for up to four hours, or rejecting him a few times, before they agreed. It is a little funny considering that they are the ones who chose the man, to make him suffer a little before taking his hand was possibly a form of flirting. The fact that the groom could not refuse seems harsh, still Ottomans were beauties, as I had explained in previous articles, the Sultans had procreated only with the most beautiful women for centuries, therefore that gene pool was filled with gorgeousness. The groom had not much to worry about her looks.

Pictures of Some of the Born Turkish Princesses:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once married to the daughter of a Sultan, he could not get a second wife, nor could he divorce her. However by law she could divorce him and marry someone else, should she chose to do so.

I find this interesting as the Ottoman Empire was Islamic. Yet, none of the rules of Islam were applied towards royal ladies.  

Another interesting story was about one husband who was the son of a Sadrazam, which is a title similar to being a Prime Minister. During a heated argument, things got out of control and he slapped his wife, as soon as she opened the door, guards jumped on him, to beat the hell out of him, for he could not touch “The Lady” even if she was his wife. The fact that he was the son of the highest ranking officer, after the Sultan did not help him the least bit.

Ottoman tradition and upbringing is still present in the royal family, and stories of old customs shed more light on Ottoman culture. Princess Hanzade was explaining how important modesty was, and how any other way was unacceptable for a member of the imperial family. This explains the “scandal free” life they all have leaded. Even if they were not at all strong financially, they are who they are and that cannot be taken away from them.

Scandals of European Royalty have kept the tabloids busy over the years. Yet Ottomans always kept a dignified, quiet life style. Clearly it was part of the culture, to always remain noble, including during times of lacking financial means.

Rumor has it that Sultan Vahdettin had been offered palaces to stay and a steady income by King Emanuel in Italy. He refused the courteous offer and endured poverty for he was an Islamic Leader. Accepting, hand-outs from any Non Muslim was unacceptable, living in hardship was better. Pride precedes comfort according to the Turkish culture and these are some examples to that aspect.  

*In 2001 The Habsburg family (Austrian Royalty) gathered with the Ottoman’s in a summer resort in Turkey. These families had been at war with each other for centuries, yet after they both lost their throne, the old enemy made a good friend.

I have been judged for calling members of the Ottoman family prince or princess, as they do not rule anymore. I see no harm in respecting those who are direct lineage of the majestic family. They represent glorious history.

During the History Show, Princess Hanzade demonstrated the latest “Imperial Signet” It belonged to her great grandfather Sultan Vahdettin and as he was the last Sultan, she has the last signet. It is pure gold. She also showed a royal necklace that weighed maybe a kilogram of gold. It was beautiful. The Sultan passed it on, and never considered selling these items despite, the financial hardship that he went through.

I find it hard to believe that he could be a traitor, when he valued all that he represented more than his comfort till the day he died. It is sad that books have portrayed him with no justice. Fortunately, his name has been cleared, and stories of his gracious life shall live on.



Follow me on twitter@Banugokyar


Filed under Christianity, History, Islam, Joy, love, Politics, Religion, Royalty, Society, thoughts, Uncategorized

What Leaked About Turkey?

After reading many leaked documents through Wikileaks, I am almost surprised that there is nothing too secretive that comes across, at least so far. Still the US Embassy mini reports on Turkey and the Middle East were interesting.

 Having read most of the reports on the Middle East, I made the below assessment.

US diplomats have great doubts about Turkey’s dependability. Their views on AKP and Erdoğan have changed over time.

In a report written in 2004, the tone clearly undermines Erdoğan, his crew and their ability or knowledge about the world.

 “Erdogan’s pragmatism serves him well but he lacks vision.  He and his principal AKP advisors, as well as FonMin Gul and other ranking AKP officials, also lack analytic depth.  He relies on poor-quality intel and on media disinformation.

 With the narrow world-view and wariness that lingers from his Sunni brotherhood and lodge background, he ducks his public relations responsibilities.  He (and those around him, including FonMin Gul) indulge in pronounced pro-Sunni prejudices and in emotional reactions that prevent the development of coherent, practical domestic or foreign policies.

In the same report Davutoğlu was explained as “exceptionally dangerous.” due to his Islamist views. Six years later, in another report in 2010, the tone and view on similar issues, seems to have changed.

“The idea of Turkey using its cultural and religious links to the Middle East to the advantage of both Turkish interests and regional stability is not new with the AKP, but has been given much more priority by it, in part because of the Islamic orientation of much of the party, including leaders Erdogan, Gul, and Davutoglu.  Moreover, the AKP’s constant harping on its unique understanding of the region, and outreach to populations over the heads of conservative, pro-US governments, have led to accusations of  “neo-Ottomanism.”  Rather than deny, Davutoglu has embraced this accusation.  Himself the grandson of an Ottoman soldier who fought in Gaza, Davutoglu summed up the Davutoglu/AKP philosophy in an extraordinary speech in Sarajevo in late 2009 (REF A).  His thesis: the Balkans, Caucasus, and Middle East were all better off when under Ottoman control or influence; peace and progress prevailed.  Alas the region has been ravaged by division and war ever since.  (He was too clever to explicitly blame all that on the imperialist western powers, but came close). However, now Turkey is back, ready to lead — or even unite.  (Davutoglu: “We will re-establish this (Ottoman) Balkan”).

The US diplomats do not seem to perceive Turkey’s foreign policy as narrow-viewed or irrelevant anymore, but consider it a strategic problem with sureness that Turks will not be able to compete against other players in the region.

 The greatest potential strategic problem for the US, however, and the one that has some of the commentators howling, is the Turks neo-Ottoman posturing around the Middle East and Balkans.  This “back to the past” attitude so clear in Davutoglu’s Sarajevo speech, combined with the Turks’ tendency to execute it through alliances with more Islamic or more worrisome local actors, constantly creates new problems.  Part of this is structural.  Despite their success and relative power, the Turks really can’t compete on equal terms with either the US or regional “leaders” (EU in the Balkans, Russia in the Caucasus/Black Sea, Saudis, Egyptians and even Iranians in the ME).  With Rolls Royce ambitions but Rover resources, to cut themselves in on the action the Turks have to “cheat” by finding an underdog (this also plays to Erdogan’s own worldview), a Siladjcic, Mish’al, or Ahmadinejad, who will be happy to have the Turks take up his cause.  The Turks then attempt to ram through revisions to at least the reigning “Western” position to the favor of their guy.  “

It seems that the response that Turkey received to its applied foreign policy; has surprised US diplomats within the last six years and may continue to do so.

 The Balkans, has been an issue for the EU as well.

“Levitte noted that of the five major conditions required to transfer authority in Bosnia from the UN High Representative to an EU High Representative, four have been fulfilled, and only the question of division of state property remains. This final condition should not alone “block all progress,” especially as the current UN team in Bosnia is no longer effective. France wants to see the transfer of authority to a new EU team in November, as the rapprochement to Europe is an effective “carrot” to encourage the Bosniaks to continue progress in necessary reforms.


Levitte expressed optimism that a new Greek government would be “more solid” and allow greater flexibility for progress in the Greek-Macedonian name dispute. A/S Gordon agreed that either a more solid Conservative government or a Socialist government would be a stronger, more flexible partner in the negotiations. He expressed hope that if the international community could convince Macedonia to abandon the idea of a referendum and get Greece to abandon the necessity of changing passports, then progress could be made.”

As the new map of the world is being formed, every party is trying to gain stregth as ever. EU wants to have power over Bosnia and ensure Greek –Macedonian power formulation. Turks are being accused a of a “Neo-Ottoman” agenda, yet the rest of the map seems also to be headed in a historically familiar outlook.

Meanwhile according to the US reports, Turkish diplomats are not happy with America’s stand on Turkey’s involvement in the Balkans.

“Sinirlioglu registered the GoT’s determination to resist perceived EU efforts to exclude Turkey from the Balkans, particularly Bosnia. He identified effecting rapprochement between Bosnia and Serbia as Turkey’s immediate diplomatic goal for the region. Towards that end, Sinirlioglu said, we convinced Haris Siladjdzic, who had been in Ankara the day before, to cease references to Serbian “genocide.” The United States and Turkey have “agreed to disagree” on the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Bosnia; nevertheless, “we value your involvement in the Balkans.”

The leaks on Iran were no surprise. At least I have not come across anything that we did not know. The only thing is that stood out, was a report that portrays Turkey, as an ally of the US who manipulates the region, according to Israel’s agenda, in spite of recent disputes.

“Sinirlioglu contended Turkey’s diplomatic efforts are beginning to pull Syria out of Iran’s orbit. He said a shared hatred for Saddam had been the original impetus for their unlikely alliance. “Now, their interests are diverging.” Once again pitching Israel-Syria proximity talks, Sinirlioglu contended Israel’s acceptance of Turkey as a mediator could break Syria free of Tehran’s influence and further isolate Iran.”

Israel and the EU strongly believe that the regime has to be changed in Iran. The weak points of the nation have clearly been highlighted to create turmoil, thus change.

“Force Regime Change: Dagan said that more should be done to foment regime change in Iran, possibly with the support of student democracy movements, and ethnic groups (e.g., Azeris, Kurds, Baluchs) opposed to the ruling regime. Dagan stressed that Iran has weak spots that can be exploited. According to his information, unemployment exceeds 30 percent nationwide, with some towns and villages experiencing 50 percent unemployment, especially among 17-30 year olds. Inflation averages more than 40 percent, and people are criticizing the government for investing in and sponsoring Hamas, saying that they government should invest in Iran itself. “The economy is hurting,” he said, “and this is provoking a real crisis among Iran’s leaders.” He added that Iran’s minorities are “raising their heads, and are tempted to resort to violence.”

The current Iranian regime is effectively a fascist state and the time has come to decide on next steps. Levitte stated that this is why Paris is advocating a meeting of the EU3 PLUS 3 on the margins of the Pittsburgh G20 meeting. The French hope to approve a two-paragraph statement laying out next steps on negotiations or sanctions. He noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel shares the view of the French President and is willing to be firm on sanctions.

EU has Boycotted Iran after the elections. They put a lot of effort into plotting the boycott.

 “If the Iranians find out beforehand that the EU will not send Ambassador-level representation, Paucelle told poloff early July 31, then they may rescind the invitations to the August 3 event, as they did in similar circumstances prior to former President Khatami’s inauguration in 1997. “It’s hard to keep a secret when 27 nations are involved,” Paucelle noted, “but we are trying.” Only the Swedish EU Presidency will be represented by an Ambassador, Paucelle said.

“On the one hand, we want to communicate that we do not approve of this illegitimate election. On the other hand, we need to be realistic: the power is in the hands of Khameini and Ahmadinejad, including the nuclear file, and we must negotiate with those in power. .”

 While all this is happening Turkey still acts as a friend of Iran, which is confusing to the rest of the world.

“Erdogan had been asked if he views Iran as a friend. If he had said “no,” it would not have been possible to convince Tehran to cooperate on this latest proposal. Only Turkey can speak bluntly and critically to the Iranians, Davutoglu contended, but only because Ankara is showing public messages of friendship.”

Another surprising report was that Britons were teaching US diplomats how to talk to Iran.

“Iranians are obsessed with the west and this obsession at times blinds them to their interests,” he told the Americans. “The US side should be aware of the following preconceptions on the Iranian side:

– The US seeks to remove the current regime and replace it with a pro-western one.

– US policymakers spend an inordinate amount of time and energy thinking about (and plotting against) Iran. As such, Iranians assume that everything we do or say has meaning and has been carefully thought out and co-ordinated, both internally and with the UK; there are no accidents.”

The tone of this report makes the Iranian sound like paranoid, for assuming that the US seeks to remove the current regime or plots against Iran. Ironically, all the other reports show that they were “right on spot” with their assumptions.

Meanwhile the Islam Brothers of the region, have issues among themselves.

Sinirlioglu registered the GoT’s increasing dissatisfaction with PM Malaki and fear that he is tending “to get out of control.” “He is preoccupied with his political survival;” nevertheless, Sinirlioglu continued, the GoT is in frequent contact with him.He noted Saudi Arabia is also “throwing around money” among the political parties in Iraq because it is unwilling to accept the inevitability of Shia dominance there. “

Although Turkey has good relations with all neighbors, military actions taking place in the region would affect Turkey as well.

Burns acknowledged Turkey’s exposure to the economic effects of sanctions as a neighbor to Iran, but reminded Sinirlioglu Turkish interests would suffer if Israel were to act militarily to forestall Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons or if Egypt and Saudi Arabia were to seek nuclear arsenals of their own.

So in short we can say that:

  • The US treats Turkey as an ally but does not perceive the relation as very dependable.
  • The US thinks that geographically, the US Bases, on Turkish soil are essential for the positioning against Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • US view on Turkish foreign policy’s success potential seems to have changed. Although they still do not believe, that Turks will realize the vision, now they seem to accept that there is a vision, which they did not in 2004.
  • Everyone wants a piece of the Balkans, as whoever takes control of the Balkans will have more power over the region.
  • Although Israel and Turkey’s relations are not well, some of their interest in the area might be more common than it seems, like getting Syria out of Iran’s orbit.
  • While Saudi Arabia does not get on with Iraq or Iran and most of the region does not get on very well, Turkey seems to be getting on with all except for Israel.
  • The fact that military action within the territory would not be in Turkey’s interest and Israel’s potential for such stroke is reminded to Turkish diplomats, according to reports.

Could we have made the above assessment without the leaks?

Of course we could!

I am not a big fan on conspiracies but I cannot help but question, if this is all part of a big PR campaign? No press conference would have made the world, read announcement of US strategy so carefully.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to observe, the upcoming reactions to the leak.

Followme on Twitter@BanuGokyar 




Leave a comment

Filed under Islam, Politics, Society, thoughts, Uncategorized

Speaking Through the Heart

It is those moments that we do not know what to do with ourselves that our doggy will simply come to our lap to make us smile. It is the unconditional love received from them that makes them our best friends. As mentioned in one of my previous articles, I have a doggy now. He chose me as opposed to me choosing him. The constant love and joy he demonstrates towards me, keeps putting smiles on my face at the least expected moments. His presence gives me peace.

He took shelter under my balcony. This is how we had met and how he had chosen me. In time he started joining me, while meditating in the garden. Now he has moved inside the house.

Oddly how his old friends do not accept him anymore. He must have softened because his former buddies seem to bully him off the streets. The other day as we were walking down the street, we were attacked by a German shepherd. I was terrified. As he is a former street dog, George has very strong survival instincts and knows when to attack and when to back down. Although he did not intend to fight back initially, my fear made him bark back. I am so very touched with his innocent protective attitude. It is the simplicity of our relation that makes it so wonderful. He can feel me; he could from the day we met. He is so sure of my love for him that he keeps jumping all over me even when I say no.

It looks like a breach of authority, but it’s not because when I can’t deal with that, he just knows not to do it. I am fascinated by his ability to read me. Of course he likes to get up and hug me when there is mud on his paws, but then again I am not really mad at him for doing so. After all he is just a doggy, how can he understand not to mess my clothes. He understands the more important things though. He knows to sit with me silently, comfort me if I am down, or jump all over the place to salute me when I wake up.

The unconditional love combined with his deep understanding of my mood, beats any form of communication.

Sometimes I wonder if it would ever be possible for humans to connect on such level.


Then I remember that it is. I am similarly connected with Sahaja Yogis who could be able to read me or I could read them from thousands of miles away. I guess innocence and pure love are key to this type of connection. It surely is very fulfilling on so many levels.

When we truly connect with each other from the heart, so many issues that are raised through mental forms of communication seem to dissolve. I guess the trick is to keep things simple because complicating matters makes us lose the ability to communicate through the heart only. When that happens, we might not be able to read the simplest thing about each other’s state that our dearest doggy would never miss.

I guess simplicity in any relation brings joy because when the hearts speak, the rest is allowed to be silent.


Follow me on Twitter:BanuGokyar


Filed under Joy, love, thoughts, Uncategorized

Eat Pray and Love!

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi

I’ve just come out of the movie “Eat, Pray and Love” and I loved it. It reminded me of a different phase in my life. Years ago when I was in college I lived in an Ashram in San Francisco and had visited India on a trip to gather with other Sahaja Yogis from all over the world. India sweet India, every moment of it was magical. The slow pace, the warm climate, the soothing music, the wonderful silk saris, the perfumed jasmine in my hair, it was all bliss. My meditations felt amazing I was just having such a good time. I recall falling asleep during my initial meditations. I had arrived to the east from the west and needed some adjustment time before I could empty myself to absorb all the wonderful vibrations. Falling asleep was like God’s way of knocking me out so that I could emit all the love. Shortly after I was able to absorb totally awake with full awareness.

Such bliss!

 Of course when one takes a trip for their spiritual evolution, one becomes very observant of the Divine Play that keeps pulling us into a nonsensical state. The Indian call this state of illusion “Maya” It happens all the time and we can overcome it by becoming the whiteness. It is like looking for the glasses all over the house when they are on one’s forehead. The moment one stops getting frustrated and purifies the attention, the hand goes to the forehead to notice the glasses were there all along.

I have been a yogini for many years, yet I still find myself forgetting to be whiteness to my own drama every now and then. Luckily I recall that all one needs to do is surrender. Of course that is not the easiest thing to do when attached, but when it is time to detach things have a way of parting from us spontaneously, so the best is to enjoy the state and leave the conditionings aside.

The movie reminded me of a time that I used to dedicate most of my time to my spiritual growth. I used to pray so hard to become and instrument of God. I desired to be like Shri Krishna’s flute where God almighty could flow thru me, and I could be the instrument, a channel for Divine. What a strong desire. I did not remember to pray for other things, such as success, or money at the time. As we are all part and parcel of God, becoming more like God was my way to bliss.

When I desired to become more like God what I had in mind was not power or any such thing, but the impossible to challenge endless love that only Divine possesses was my idea of being like God. Not the sticky human kind of gushy love but rock like peace giving Divine type of love. During that period of my life I remember resenting to part from my conditionings and facing myself.

Still joy was always present.

Watching the movie I felt very blessed for not being lost and having found my direction at an earlier time in my life. Although choosing this path has made me feel lost in other areas of my life from time to time. When that happens I recall that being part of the system was not my way, or the path that I had desired. There is something draining about systems that I naturally rebel against. It must be my free spirit. As a student I was praying to be channel of God, to acquire Divine like qualities. Later in life as I was working for an advertising agency having regular meetings with high ranking people of the corporate world, I recall looking at some ladies who looked terribly dissatisfied and angry with life.

This time, I was praying “Dear God please do not let me become a Bitch! I cannot become an angry miserable person, who is harsh with people.”


Luckily I did not become that. It was just that at the time I was worried of losing focus of what really matters. Given that I felt that I had a strong presence and was certainly not one to push over easy, I was worried of pushing back too hard when challenged and becoming like those people that I dreaded so much, the miserable, bossy ladies. This would go against everything I believed in. I had learned the ways of love.

Pitfalls happen to me too. When trying to adjust with the ideas of the rest of the world, I find myself losing joy. This does not mean that I disagree with the world. It just means that I had learned where true joy is at young age and know well enough that it resides within us.

The knowledge that is encoded deeply inside me manifests at the oddest moments and reminds me who I am and what I know, for that I feel thankful to the Divine as ever.

Follow me on Twitter: BanuGokyar

Leave a comment

Filed under faith, Joy, love, Religion, thoughts, Uncategorized

Pure Desire

Pure desire is a wish that goes through our heart and is fulfilled without an attempt to realize it.

 I had desired a dog for a while. I cannot trust myself or my life style to take the responsibility of a pet. In spite of my desire, I have not made an attempt to buy or adopt one.

Recently I moved into a place with a garden. The garden is filled with trees of fruit and I have been enjoying my delightful coffee moments, sitting outdoors. One day, as I was listening to music on my I-Pod I got startled by something that moved pass by me. It was a large animal, clearly a stray dog. As a child I have been chased by stray dogs so many times that they tend to terrify me.  It passed so fast that I could not tell where it went. In time, I discovered that he lived under my balcony.

At first, he was no less afraid of me than I would be of stray dogs. He would just hide under the balcony as soon as I came out to the garden. He was so wild that he would not give me or my friends a second look. Even,  when there was food on the table, it did not interest him the least bit.

An extra ordinarily proud doggy!

One day we came across each other on the street. He seemed overjoyed to see me, wiggling his tail jumping around me trying to get my attention. I was surprised, as he had not let my friends pet him when we were in the garden.

I knew he chose me to be his friend and without giving it much thought I named him George. He felt like a George. Then I realized that I named him after a protector Saint that slayed a Dragon to save a Princess.  My every story has to have a fairy tale angle. I guess, I am a bit of a hopeless romantic.

Anyhow, George likes to join me when I take my bike out. People on the street joke about the protector that runs next to me, as I ride. He likes to salute me when I come into the alley. He charges at me, barking, running really fast wiggling his tail. The barking run towards me would have terrified me only a short while ago, whereas now it fills me with joy.  Although we have made friends, he is free. He can come and go as he pleases. The other day after saluting me on the street, he walked away with another girl and frankly I felt a bit betrayed.

Yesterday, as I was meditating on the ground he came and sat right next to me. I know that he could feel the vibrations. Still it was not until today that I became sure that I have a dog. The cloudy weather had put me in a weird mood, not sad per say but not too cheerful either. As I was sitting in the garden sipping coffee writing away, trying to get myself out of the weird state, he came out. He just sat right by me, until he cleared my mood like a best friend would do. That is the beauty of having a pet. They have a way of comforting us. Having had that moment with him, I also realized that my desire was fulfilled in an unthinkable way. I have a dog who keeps me company from time to time, yet he is not dependant on me. He is pleased when he gets food but would not die in my absence.

Divine has unthinkable ways of fulfilling our desires. I am stunned by each experience that reminds me of this.

Leave a comment

Filed under Joy, love, thoughts, Uncategorized

Agree to Disagree?

He had encouraged me to keep writing. I was surprised when he did that, as he always seemed to enjoy picking on me, so “support” was not something that I expected from him. I valued his opinion though. It was interesting with all the people around me, that he would be the one to take interest in my writing.

Was it because he was English? They value writing.

 Or was it because he was a former journalist? They enjoy reading.

I could not really tell, but I recall him asking me why he could not find my blog, on line anymore. I told him that I had not written in a while. He just said that I should keep writing, so I did.

 My blogging habit started out, as an outlet that I was using to articulate my feelings. It was an emotional period in my life and writing about my feelings somehow helped. I had been writing since I was eleven years old. Nobody would see my journals though. My mother kept pushing me, to publish my writing on line.

 One day I did.

Until then, I was not so much aware that publishing my writing meant that total strangers would get to read about my innermost thoughts. It was an interesting acknowledgement. It also made me realize that we are never alone in our state. The world is filled with people who have similar experiences. Knowing that sometimes helps cope with unwanted emotions. In the meantime, people around me kept asking why I write those articles. I kept saying, because I enjoy writing.

The other day as I was reading “The Zahir from Paulo Coelho. I found myself enjoying this book a lot.

I came across some lines where he explains that back in Brazil, even he was asked why he wants to write. His explanation, to this odd question is that his nation does not much care to read, so they do not understand why anyone would want to write. Not that I claim any resemblance with Coelho but our nation’s ways of receiving the idea of writing seems similar.

Anyway, as this emotional state that had caused me to write about my feelings, had passed. I had stopped writing, which is around the time that he told me to keep writing. As I expressed earlier he is English. This must be the explanation behind the encouragement. Since, I was not in a sentimental state of mind anymore; I started writing about all kinds of things that I found interesting.

Then one day I received an e-mail where he was telling me that I should have been a journalist. His words meant a lot to me, as he was not the kind of guy, who would say anything, to anyone, in order to get on their good side. I kept writing.

Recently I’ve started writing for a national, on line news publication.

The biggest supporter of my writing was my mother of course, but she is this amazing person who would have supported me if I decided to do the craziest thing, such as becoming part of Cirque Du Soleil. I know she would do the research or hand me the application form instead of telling me the dangers involved in this job like regular moms.

No doubt that I appreciate her fully, but I found myself appreciating his support too. Our endless disputes on world events may even have influenced my tone in writing. Although in the beginning his arrogance seemed unbearable, combined with my impulsive overreactions, we managed to “agree to disagree” on things. This went on until I discovered that he enjoyed annoying me, my passionate outbursts seemed to amuse him. Some of the questions were not his views but his way of elongating a debate. After that I started enjoying our disputes more, as I knew what to take serious and when it was just a pitfall to drive me crazy. Of course my Mediterranean short temper is still there but I know that those moments of heated arguments on world history or politics have been good for me. Surely, I had many arguments with opposing ideas even before I knew him; it’s just that nobody would make it their business to extend the discussion, simply to pick on me.

I live in a nation where there are so many diverse ideas that those who feel that they belong to a group with certain ideas can be very impatient towards members of the opposing idea and vice versa.

 Making a point without losing an audience can be tricky in this environment, yet I feel the patience is built within me. After all, even when the end result is to” agree to disagree”; valuable information is exchanged until reaching that point. Information gets across from both parties, which forces everyone to see the other one’s angle. Once the other angle is seen, it cannot be reversed and being able to do that makes everyone grow, even when they disagree.

Leave a comment

Filed under Joy, love, thoughts, Uncategorized

Could Turks lead the way to Tolerance in Europe?


There was a time that the European Union would remind everyone of, democracy, liberty, justice, respect of human rights and ideas as such, all of which seems to change lately. The double standard of European mind set is surfacing and becoming more obvious in today’s global environment.

A hundred years ago Europe was able to go and exploit far away lands in India or Africa, without having to worry about that population coming to their home land. It was difficult to travel for the masses, communication means were scarce, and the level of awareness of the opportunities in Europe was limited. These days with the internet, TV, movies, almost all regions of the world seem to be aware of each other. Travelling to the other end of the world is a matter of hours.

Laws in Europe are gradually changing and adapting to the new environment. These days, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to strip foreign origin criminals of their citizenship. It is ironic that he would suggest so, given that he is of foreign origin himself.

 *“He is the son of a Hungarian immigrant and a French mother of Greek Jewish origin. Sarkozy’s mother is from the Mallah family, which originally came from Spain like all Jews of Salonika, northern Greece, and left with the expulsion of the Jews by King Ferdinand. They settled initially in France. About 100 years later the family immigrated to Salonika.
Sarkozy’s great grandfather, who died in 1913, was a well known jeweler in Salonika.”

He is of Greek Jewish origin from the mother’s side and Hungarian origin from the father’s side. This explains his support of the Greek while they are in economic crises. His Greek heritage explains his resentment to the idea of Turkey being part of the EU.

The idea of disowning French citizens of foreign origin when they commit a crime might seem like an easy solution but is it fair? What if every nation found a way to take away citizenship of their criminals? It is every modern society’s responsibility to deal with crime while respecting human rights of those who committed the felony.

This is one of the issues that need to be corrected by Turkey in order to become Europe appropriate.

What if Turkey went into the roots of their criminals and singled out the Kurds, Bosnian, Circassian, Armenian, Greek, Georgian and many other origins and simply took away their citizenships? The idea seems so ridiculous that I would not even humor with it. Yet France the land of liberty is seriously considering such a solution to their problem.

It is a slippery road.  Europe wants to get rid of those who do not seem to fit in. Traditionally it was possible for them to treat the people in their colonies one way and have different standards towards the people of Europe. Now that some of those people have legally become citizens of Europe, acting with double standard has become more difficult. Solutions, suggested by a leader, of the land of democracy are ironically anti-democratic. 

 What makes Europe appealing to the rest of the world?

  • Freedom
  • Respectful environment towards human rights
  • Culture
  • Economic Stability

Europe has lost a large part of its appeal in terms of economical stability, as they are suffering. Freedom and culture are still there, respectful environment towards human rights is becoming questionable. Economics can be fixed but the compromise on its core values will be an interesting evolution to observe while the history of European civilization is being re-shaped.

Peter Hitchens seems to be terribly worried of the idea of Turkey’s admittance to Europe. One of his recently written articles, end with the below quoted sentence.

**Now we may have to pay attention. Among the bayonet-like minarets and helmet-like domes of ancient Istanbul an East wind is blowing, which I think will chill us all.”

He took pictures at one very conservative Islamist neighborhood of Istanbul and used them as an argument that they reflect the ideas of a whole nation. This is like taking pictures of Orthodox Jews and claiming the whole nation is strictly Orthodox. The portrait of Turkey that he drew in this article although completely biased, very well explains the fear of Turkish presence in Europe. This dread has been ongoing throughout history, so it is nothing new. As expressed by the American journalist Timothy Sexton, in the below quote, Europe had been worried of Turks for a long time.


***”Much to the chagrin of the Vatican, just a few years later saw the Turks driving forcefully all the way to the Hungarian border. This threat was countered in the typical manner with which the Pope sought to defend his Church: a crusade. Like most of the others, this crusade also ended with devastating losses by the Christian armies, this time during the battle of Nicopolis in 1396. After this victory, it looked for all the world like Europe was about to find itself becoming part of the Ottoman Empire.”

The past is in the past. The truth of today’s world is that there is an Islamic population residing and holding citizenship in Europe. It cannot be reversed, unless terribly antidemocratic steps are taken. Whether Turkey becomes part of Europe or not will not change the fact that European have to learn to coexist and tolerate different cultures. As these citizens ideally, have equal rights like any other citizen of Europe oppressing them towards integration leads to antidemocratic behavior.


Ironically Turks come from a tradition of tolerance towards differences. Throughout most of the years of the Ottoman Empire, Christians Jews and Muslims co-existed without religious oppression. As expressed in an interview by History Expert, Aron Rodrigue at Stanford University.

****”While it certainly changed over its five-hundred-year existence, the Ottoman Empire was one of the most remarkable historical examples of coexistence among different religious and social groups.”

How is that relevant?

The world is changing and whether we like it or not the global environment is forcing societies to tolerate and coexist around differences.  The feared Turkish presence might actually help integrating the already existing Islamic presence in Europe. David Domínguez-Navarro very well explains how Jews and Christians were not only tolerated but protected and integrated into the society during Ottoman times. Turks come from a tradition of co-existing in spite of differences and therefore managed to create a comfortable environment for members of all religions.

*****”The expulsion of the Jews of Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1497 brought to an end what had been the most economic and cultural successful Jewish community in the Western World. As a result, the largest centers of Iberian Jews found a new shelter in the Ottoman Empire where they also met other Jewish groups and minorities from Europe previously incorporated to the Ottoman territories. The relationship between the Jews and the Ottomans had a strong influence on Islam’s acceptance of the Jews as one of the “peoples of the book”.

In Muslim lands, Jews along with Christians were considered dhimmi, or “protected ones”, they were to be tolerated and had freedom to practice their religions (2). This tolerant attitude towards the Jews existed before the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 in the Muslim controlled Spain, and allowed the development of a successful Spanish Jewish community after their expulsion from Spain in 1492 when they were welcome by sultan Bayazid II to establish themselves in his domains. Throughout the sixteenth century they played a key role in the Ottoman economy and public life and enjoyed religious freedom, safety and prominence not comparable to anywhere else since the Golden Age of Spain during the Caliphate of Córdoba 

Although they maintained a social and cultural system of their own they remained an active part of Ottoman urban society, greatly involved in the daily life, they became a pivotal influential minority during this period, and contributed to the commercial, professional and financial development of the Empire.”

Aside from tolerating differences, the Ottoman system ensured all members of the Empire were involved and contributed to the development of the whole.

It is ironic that Sarkozy’s ancestors who had been expulsed by King Ferdinand were sheltered by the Turks, that he seems to oppose so strongly now. It was their tolerance that created a comfortable home for an expulsed community. 

Sarkozy’s solution of expulsion will not serve in long term and Europe will come to the point of seeking ways of integrating people of different origins. Turkish experience might come in handy since the issue of foreign origin’s presence in Europe will not go into thin air.





Filed under faith, Islam, Religion, Society, thoughts

Turkish Royalty! Angelic little Prince and Princesses in the flesh!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Each time I see a picture of members of the Turkish Royal Family, I am astonished for two reasons. The first reason is that they are incredibly attractive looking people, just the way one imagines Royalty to be in fairy tales. The second reason is that we did not used to see or hear of the descendants of the majestic family. As paintings were forbidden or frowned upon during the Ottoman times, most of us do not have so many real images of the Sultans stuck in our head. Frankly I know what the Romanov family looks like better than what many of our Sultans looked like, simply because I have seen photos of the Romanov’s. This is one of the reasons, that to see the Sultan’s great grandchildren, in the flesh amazes me, each time. However silly it might sound I must admit that their beauty makes me feel proud.

As I had expressed in one of my previous articles on Princess Roxanne Kunter, the Ottoman Sultan’s procreated only with the most stunning ladies, who were part of the Harem, which explains their beautiful looks as a family. The sultans were probably also very good looking (see picture of the little Princes, of the same lineage) and incredibly powerful men. Western movies always make the Harem look like a place of detention, where women were held against their will. I’ve often found this interpretation odd. There is an American TV show called “The Bachelor” if you have seen it, you will realize how 15 women fight over the affection of an ordinary man just because, it is a competition and they become famous. The women of the Harem were competing over the attention of a possibly very good looking man, who happened to rule over a territory that extended to three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa.  Should she bear his child, she would get a chance of being the mother of the next emperor. Now if anyone has caught an episode of the Bachelor, they will realize that women tend to be competitive around each other and controlling the man who is an object of desire for other women can be a great ego boost for ladies.  Surely I do not advocate polygamy in this age and time but the misrepresentation of ancient Harem life, in western movies has often appalled me.

Nevertheless, the reason we never used to hear of the Royal family is because 155 member of the Imperial family were expulsed in 1924. This expulsion took place along with the renouncement of the Caliph title. The definition of the word Caliph according to the dictionary would be:


1. A spiritual leader of Islam, claiming succession from Muhammad.

2. Any of the former Muslim rulers of Baghdad (until 1258) and of the Ottoman Empire (from 1571 until 1924).

So the Ottoman family were considered successors of Muhammad thereby the leader of all the Islamic world. That is a very powerful title to be relinquished just like that. Although it might seem so now, at the time that was an essential move to establish a secular Turkish Republic. One cannot be the spiritual leader of the Islamic world and keep government issues separate from religious issues at the same time. Along with foundation of modern Turkey, Turks drifted away from Ottoman history. It took modern Turkey a long time after its formation, to become economically less dependant.

When I read quotes as the one below in the New York Times it astonishes me.

*“Turkey is seen increasingly in Washington as “running around the region doing things that are at cross-purposes to what the big powers in the region want,” said Steven A. Cook, a scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations. The question being asked, he said, is “How do we keep the Turks in their lane?”


Turkey’s rise as a regional power may seem sudden, but it has been evolving for years, since the end of the cold war, when the world was a simple alignment of black and white and Turkey, a Muslim democracy founded in 1923, was a junior partner in the American camp.”


“Cross purposes to what the big powers in the region want”, “How to keep Turks in their lane?” “Turkey’s rise as a regional power may seem sudden!”


Clearly those who wrote these lines have no idea about Turkish History and that it was not so long ago that Turks were not only the sole power of that region but they also ruled over the region while they were also accepted by all other nations in the area as a spiritual authority, successor of Muhammad.

So yes! Turks might be a rising power but that surely is nothing new, the leadership attribute is simply part of Turkish heritage. How to keep Turks in their lane would be something that many failed throughout history but maybe the American nation is too young to acknowledge, this. They know the modern state that has had economical weakness for decades and has been trying to unite with the E.U. for a long time.

Europe however remembers a different time. As American Journalist Timothy Sexton expresses in one of his articles Turks had been a strong power in the region for centuries.


**“Like most of the others, this crusade also ended with devastating losses by the Christian armies, this time during the battle of Nicopolis in 1396. After this victory, it looked for all the world like Europe was about to find itself becoming part of the Ottoman Empire.”

Americans are brilliant in observing change and keeping ahead even using it to their advantage. The world as we know it is changing and power is shifting yet again, as it has many times through out history. Turkish American relations have improved since that article was published in the New York Times and I believe the alliance will only get stronger.

Getting back to the subject of Ottoman Dynasty, after their expulsion in 1924, female members of the family were allowed to come back in 1952 and male members were allowed back in 1974. Conversely it is only lately that the Ottoman Dynasty members are becoming more known to the general public. Prince Osman Selaheddin Osmanoğlu has recently celebrated his 70. birthday. We all got to see the pictures of the youngest members of the Turkish Royal Family. The sweet little prince and princesses are amazingly attractive looking like the rest of the family. These little angel like creatures, are the living extension of our history as they are the great grand children of Fatih Sultan Süleyman who conquered Istanbul in 1453, thereby triggered the beginning of the renaissance era or Sultan Bayazid who gave refuge to the Jews who were expulsed from Spain by King Ferdinand. It gives me great pleasure to be able to hear about the current lives of members of a great part of our history. All the stories of Ottoman honor and glory that we grew up hearing about seem to be justified when we see the images of our scandal free, dignified Imperial family. Their poise screams Royalty. It’s kind of nice when we can put a face with the name, it is even better when the image matches the tales of pride.

I understand that for a long time they might have been perceived as a threat to the modern foundation. However, The Republic of Turkey is an established secular democracy now and the Royal Family represents our glorious history. We can look ahead, owning up to our established democratic system without denying our glorious past.

Follow me on Twitter@banugokyar


Leave a comment

Filed under Islam, Religion, Society, thoughts, Uncategorized

How to repair a broken heart? Just forgive; the rest takes care of it self!

Lately I seem to be able to enjoy the simple things in life more than usual. At a party that I attended, I saw people that I had not seen in a few years. Everyone kept telling me how great I looked. I guess, it was my inner joy manifesting on the outside. I am much happier than I was, the last time I saw those people.  I could not understand why but who cares, who analyzes, why they feel good anyway?

Then some small events made me realize the difference between now and the last time that I saw these friends. At the time my heart was broken.

 “You can’t just walk away from me like before, you care about me now! I know this because you always take care of me.” Those were his words in one of our final arguments.

Yeah, hello! Of course I cared about him.  I was not denying it, so God knows what his problem was. A normal person would appreciate me, taking care of him and not use it against me. Then again I liked most of his abnormalities. I cannot help my strength but it does not mean I do not suffer. The fact that I was emotionally invested should not have to mean that I would let anyone mistreat me. So I did not! My free spirit rebelled against emotional blackmail. It made sense at the time. Now I realize that it is possible that he was just angry at me. Ah well, I felt, completely pushed out of balance at the time. So I ran from it all.

I had not thought of any of these past events in a while. A few years have gone by, since that conversation. Luckily one forgets such things. It was not until a few days ago that I realized that I had forgiven him. We bumped into each other on the street and as soon as I passed him by, I noticed that there were no hard feeling or any kind of resentment left.

Ok! Maybe a tiny little bit of resentment but nothing that a smile cannot fix.

Thank God for that because not forgiving would only hold me back from my spiritual evolution. Actually, now that I am sharing, I should reveal the weird details too.   I knew that I had forgiven him even before the encounter. About a week prior to the encounter I had a bad dream about him where, he had health problems. Although it was just a dream, I got worried.  I knew that I did not have to wonder for too long or call him.  As soon as I put my attention on him, I was going to see him. Oddly how the ability to see him through my attention, turned out to be, a surprisingly reliable method to meet.  A few days after the dream, I bumped into him on the street and he looked perfectly fine so I was relieved.

Some more days after this encounter while looking for a document among my messy files, I found the below article on my computer. I never posted it on my blog and completely forgot about writing it. I love writing because it is my way of dealing with things. I never was one of those people who can just whine to their girlfriends, seek everyone’s attention and support, yet I envy those people sometimes. Reading back I felt touched by the expression of my naïve state at the time. One can only express such sorrow when it is raw. Here go my feelings written at the time:

 “How to repair a broken heart?

 Is that even possible or do we to have continue life with broken parts? Is a broken heart like all other tangible things that break down?

 The time that my heart broke down into pieces was not a moment but an elongated process, over a period of time. Looking back I realize how excruciating it was. I was feeling like walls were closing in on me and everything was collapsing. The pieces that were broken gradually crushed into little dust parts. Each new heart breaking move, felt like a bulldozer was driving over the little broken pieces and crushing them into sand, until I had no heart left.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

However much it hurt, to have it completely destroyed that was a relief because by then I had become numb. I recall the first numbing strike. It hurt so bad that I could not even react or know what to feel or what to do with myself. My whole existence felt like up in the air, trying to float away from what I was facing. Worse than the pain itself, was the fact that I was not able to escape from it. I did not have to endure the person who was causing the pain but disconnecting myself from him did not take away his ability to inflict pain and that, I had to live with. Given my practical, solution creating, result oriented nature; not being able to control the situation and watch my heart crumble down was hard to accept.   In time I found myself completely numb. It did not hurt anymore.

What a relief!

So without even thinking about it, my escape had let me, to go on without my heart. It was such liberation from all the suffering that I did not even realize that it had cost me my heart. I had lost the ability to feel.  The romance department of my life has been completely shut down. Of course I still have my heart for humanity, for family, for friends, for good deeds to be done, even for complete strangers; my ability to share love is a hundred percent there.  

As far as romance is concerned, I am completely shut down.

What a pity.

I cannot feel attraction, romantic feelings or that type of affection for anyone. I had not even realized it until recently. The love that I have in other areas of my life has disguised the absence of my heart so far. I was under the illusion that all was fine, as pain had stopped. Somehow the absence caught up with me. Once I started questioning what caused the feeling of absence, it hit me.  

I had not stopped to question why I automatically turn down anyone, if I sense their interest is beyond a friendly chat.  I had always been choosy with my romantic affairs. I never was a very flirty person so I thought this was part of my chastity or usual picky attitude.

I guess resenting anyone that seems attracted to me, must mean that my lack of interest is beyond common reasons. It is only recently that realized that I have no affection or attraction for anyone because there is an empty spot where my heart used to be.

 Nothing gets activated when I meet someone. I have been going on without a heart for so long that I have a hard time relating to those who feel attraction.

The void is there but I do not have the necessary equipment to create the change that will fill the gap. One needs to have a heart for that; mine had been crushed into dust.

 So what will happen now? 

I guess I will keep enjoying reading, writing, sports, meditating, cooking, dancing……….and hope that our hearts have the ability to repair themselves magically, where the dust particulars find each other and assume form again. Until then…..what to do…..?

Yesterday when I found this article I was hesitating whether to reveal it or not. I am OK now, but I decided to share anyway.  The healing power of time is amazing. It is hard to imagine myself so weak, right now. It is also hard to envision my heart to be so closed up. I could not possibly disclose this piece, if I did not feel completely fine. Just in case anyone out there feels sorrow, do not worry!

Natural joy finds its path, back into the heart. Once you start laughing for five minutes at the most simple joke again, just like little children, you know its all good! It happens so spontaneously, that one cannot recall the pain. Had I not written down all the tenderness, I would have not recollected what it was like, to suffer so badly.  Our ability to forget past pain makes us eager to keep at things. I mentioned that I had to forgive for my spiritual evolvement… This is precisely why!  

 The trick is, to not become bitter over things. We are not alone, everyone goes through stuff! How we deal with it determines our ability to enjoy again or be stuck on once upon a time… I suggest, desiring to laugh again…it sure beats sulking!


Filed under Joy, love, thoughts, Uncategorized

Delightful Moments

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The moment is all that exists. This is one of the most essential points of my Yoga practice. I have been practicing Sahaja Yoga for over a decade. Many ask me how it helps. I tell them about the love, the child like joy, the inner satisfaction, the empowered feeling that comes with practicing Sahaja Yoga. The instant that we go thoughtless, it brings us into the moment.  Many find the idea of being thoughtless difficult. I understand them. My guru Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi who is the Founder of Sahaja Yoga calls the transition “The actualization of self realization.” So it is not something to be understood through a mental process but more like a state, to be in.



Why am I talking about this?

I sometimes observe sorrow around my circles. Having this knowledge, one wants to share of course. To be Joyful is, to be in the moment. The ability to detach from whatever is clouding one’s mind and to be in the moment is a great blessing. Problems are always there. I never heard of anyone who does not have them. How to deal with them is what matters. These are some of the interesting moments that I experienced lately.  I was able to feel in the moment and detached from the rest of my life.


The Man with a Big heart

The other day a man was featured on the local news. They gave him an award, as he had been taking care of his disabled wife, who could not function below the waist. One of her arms would not move either.  He had been taking care of her for 16 years. She said, that he had not been impatient or harsh with her for one moment, had he been harsh she could not have endured to live.  The man’s daughter got Leukemia and he started looking after her too. He was the sole bread earner, doing all the house chores and taking care of his sick wife and daughter with love and compassion. One could feel the love he had for the family while they were interviewing him. He said, “No one would be surprised if a wife took care of her husband till death, I do not understand why people, judge me for doing house chores. I love my family.”

I felt touched by the love; he was capable of giving in the most selfless manner. Although one would think that he has a good reason to be sad, there was no sorrow in this man’s eyes, only love and compassion.

So perception changes everything. He did not believe that he had much reason to be sad. He seemed glad to be the help that he was, for his family. His selfless attitude could single handedly re-establish one’s faith in mankind.


The Bitter Sisters


I see sorrow in the eyes of some around me. It makes me want to dissolve the grief, instantly. I do not posses that kind of power. I can only try to cheer one up and maybe give them love. The strange part is that those in grief seem to have a good life. Health, nice family, financial stability, yet the pain in their eyes’ looks real. At times that the pain is disguised, it seems to manifest with bitter remarks. Actually my attempt to help them get to a joyful state brings out their desire to pull me down. They are insulted, and eager to show me what a terrible place the world is. They start the ‘ugly world’ demonstration by pointing out things in my life that I should feel bad about.

One cannot expect those who do not love themselves, to love others. An almost annoyingly bitter, personality that likes to pick on others comes out of this situation. Frankly, when up against that harassing type of behavior, I react. Then again, I realize that these sour people have to live with themselves and that must be the worst punishment. Their soreness is their warden. If only they managed to break out of that state, they would be able to enjoy the simple things in life, such as a simple good cup of coffee. Feeling love and sharing it, caring for others, enables one to be in the moment.


The Construction Worker and My Magical Coffee Maker

The other day as I walked away from such bitter people I came home and made myself a nice cappuccino with my espresso maker that I would like to believe has magic. (See photo) The miraculous attribute of this particular espresso maker is that, it makes me very happy, each time; I make myself some coffee with it. Would other coffee makers do the same?

No, I like this one and I am sticking with the explanation that it has some kind of magic.

It is when we stop believing in miracles and magic, that bitterness starts gradually taking us over.

So the other day, after I had some magical moments of day dreaming with my beloved cup of cappuccino, I left to go to the swimming pool. It was a bright sunny day. I was walking by the shore before arriving to the pool and suddenly rain started pouring down, like buckets of water at a time. Before I could take cover anywhere I was soaking wet. My dress was completely drenched and water was dripping down my face. Thank God, I was not wearing any make up. Some gentleman appeared out of nowhere and offered his umbrella, for me to hide under. It was too late. I was already completely wet. Standing would only make me feel cold. So I kept walking and enjoying the freedom to be messy like a child. Then I saw a construction worker lifting something heavy in that awful rain. I felt bad for him, and I kindly smiled. Of course I had forgotten what a mess; I was at the moment, totally soaked to the skin. The construction workers response was pausing for a moment and looking at my drenched outlook then he bursted out a very loud laugh at me. I must admit that I did look funny. My previously elegant cotton dress looked like a sack saturated by water.


Nature has a beautiful way of reminding us that we are all one.

In about fifteen minutes the rain slowed down. I went into a coffee shop and changed into a dry dress and a cardigan. What are the odds of having spare clothes with me?

I like fresh clothes after each shower so I had them with me for after sports. This is the sane explanation. The other one is that my magical coffee moment made me happy, therefore prepared for the mysterious events of the unseen future.

Yes! I know, I have access to the weather channel too. I love my fairy assessment of events, what can I say.

The Big Man

So on this rainy day I could not swim but a few days later I was swimming at my Gym’s pool which is not very big. Usually not many people swim at the same time so it does not bother anyone that it is not vast. On this particular day however a few of us were swimming at the same time. I do not clock, my laps, but like to measure the overall time I spend swimming. So I am not at all competitive about swimming or anything else really. On this day that we were all crammed in the small pool doing laps, I found myself swimming at the same pace with a very, very big man next to me. After a while I found myself secretly competing with him.  I do not know what had gotten into me, the man was almost twice my size but like a cartoon character there I was on my secret quest.

It all went well, until he noticed. I do not know how he even realized. From under his arm he gave me this amused look with a smile and took a giant leap forward, I was left behind trying to stabilize from the wave he had created, as the pool is small. Now I really felt like a cartoon character. I do no know why these last few days I am ending up almost drowning under lots of water, looking funny. The big man kept giving me amused glances. Of course I completely ignored him, for he had not only discovered my secret competition but defeated me with a single move, and a smile that mocked me. Milan Kundera calls this situation “Litost” I think, or if I slapped the guy, yet loved him it would have been “Litost”.

Of course I did not take the whole thing serious at all but the moral of this story is that I always swim with the great pleasure. The moment I found my self competing with someone, other than myself, it pulled me out of being in the moment, into the moment of ridicule.

Comparisons, rivalry are just silly things that keep us from feeling satisfied with the present moment. One can improve without trying to keep up with anyone or even realizing anyone.

Most of us have our big desires but in the meantime, everyday small things also happen. Some choose to completely disregard the small moments as the are focused on a goal or busy being concerned on what they have or do not have. Not letting those moments slip makes all the difference on the quality of life and outlines the perception of one’s life. Thus a man with many troubles can look happier than a woman who seems to have it all.

Once we know how to appreciate, Divine presents us with so many special instants. When we add those moments up, that is our life.

Follow me on Twitter@banugokyar


Filed under faith, Joy, love, Society, thoughts, Uncategorized

Magical Kitchen

We were just a bunch of kids. That is how it all started. I remember, he came all the way to the States just to be with me. I was crazy about him. We started living together but some how it felt like playing house. It was all fun. We would walk in the snow; get really cold, come home fall asleep in each others arms, under a cozy blanket while watching a movie. The simple pleasures of life were enough. We were eating, drinking, dancing, I remember a lot of dancing, and it was so much fun.

He is the reason I learned cooking. I often wonder if that is why I enjoy cooking so much. The first time that I ever had to cook, I was nineteen years old, a freshman in college and the love of my life at the time was prone to loose weight. It felt like that I had to feed him. I had not boiled an egg, until I went off to college, so I had no idea how to go about cooking. Then again at home I was accustomed to so many dinner parties with all kinds of delicacies that it never occurred to me that cooking was a job that needed certain skills.

I recall that we were fed up with hamburgers and Pizza, we felt like having proper food, so we went to the store bought all kinds of ingredients. Our dinner was going to be stuffed peppers. This was such a common dish back home that it never occurred to us that it might be complicated to cook for someone who never boiled an egg.

Apparently American Bell peppers were quite different than Turkish peppers. I still wonder why our first attempt to cook was not with a simple pasta dish. Anyhow the meat inside the peppers dried yet the peppers did not get softer. If I wanted to cook Turkish delicacies in America I had to factor in the different reactions of the ingredients. It did not much matter, nothing much mattered, and that is the beauty of being in love. One gets to enjoy anything and everything. Even though the first “Dolma” did not turn out too good, every dish we tried after that tasted amazing, or we thought so who knows, same difference anyway.

His mother was amused with our effort to cook. She would send us recipes. I was the cook, he was my helper, not that I expected him to help but I was enjoying so much that he was drawn to the kitchen. I was laughing while he was insisting that I give him a task too, like a little boy. My ritual was to cook and dance at the same time. I still follow that ritual, it is fun what can I say.

I recall a year after we broke up the first time we saw each other he said “I am starved, for God’s sake cook something” I asked him “What happened? You were competing with me in the kitchen?” He just said that he forgot how to cook. So I walked into the kitchen, turned the music on and danced away while cooking.

 I must say, I do not think my dance moves look very cool as I am cooking, funny too probably.  It is something, I do out of joy. I know that joy, goes into my food and fills the room. It was funny, how his roommates who knew me from Istanbul had a new found respect for me, only because I was feeding them.

He said that he missed my joy a lot. I always thank God that I have joy.

To this day I feel a kind of transformation as I am cooking. In time I learned many more dishes from many cuisines. I saw the movie “Julie and Julia” recently. I was filled with joy just watching it. Soon after I found myself in the kitchen enjoying, yet again.

Cooking feels so therapeutic, that I wonder is it because my reasons to learn to cook were to feed someone I loved so deeply?

Who knows? All I know is that as soon as I am playing with the ingredients I am overjoyed. A few years back I felt deep love for someone whom I could enjoy those simple moments with. He knew many dishes yet could not peel garlic as he did not want his hands to smell garlicky. It was sweet. As we were cooking in the kitchen all else was disappearing. We would just laugh away. Of course I would have to listen to him being serious about life before we could end up enjoying the moment, and each other’s company. Life is filled with so called troubles. The kitchen however seems to be a sacred region that makes everything go away. It is those magical moments that make life beautiful.

Maybe that is why I love it so much, who knows..? All I know is that it is the simple joys in life that seem to make life so pleasurable.

Leave a comment

Filed under Joy, love, Society, thoughts, Uncategorized

Check your own backyard!

Illegal Armenians are threatened to be shipped out of the country. Personally there have always been Armenians, Jews and Greeks in my life. That is the beauty of being from Istanbul. The city has been touched by so many diverse ancient and beautiful cultures. My High School had a strong student body of Armenian, Jewish and Greek kids. We grew up not knowing our differences. One of the best friends of my child hood is Armenian.

I did not grow up to think of her or any other of my Armenian, Jewish or Greek friends as minorities or someone who is different than me. Naturally, that has not changed and I cannot bring myself to think of Armenians as different. Our historical or cultural backgrounds might be different but one does not think of such details about their child hood friends.

Later in life I also have had Armenian maids who came from Armenia. They are the ones under threat right now. Not the ones I personally know as they are married to Turkish men, therefore legal.

* Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the BBC that of 170,000 Armenians living in Turkey “70,000 are Turkish citizens”.

“We are turning a blind eye to the remaining 100,000… Tomorrow, I may tell these 100,000 to go back to their country, if it becomes necessary.”

Thousands of Armenians, many of them women, work illegally in Turkey. Most do low-skilled jobs such as cleaning.

Still it is terribly disturbing that anyone would have an issue with a bunch of cleaning ladies who left their home, went abroad trying to make ends meet. The cruelty behind picking on them is beyond comprehension. On a political arena some big shot people agree or disagree on how to address events of the past. Why should these women have to suffer as a result of their dispute?

The similarities of the cultural behavior is what makes these maids part of the household. I have been spoiled by Armenian maids/aunties and I cannot think of them as foreigners. The ones I have known so far are women of a certain age, who have grand children, but still need to work and have come to Turkey to do house work. They are very mothering, bake nice cakes and know how you like your coffee the way a family member would. They are more involved with the house than one would expect of a maid. Their firm attitude, combined with the sweetness and the way they demonstrate ownership over simple household matters has always made me feel very close to these women. It has always felt much more personal than an employer, employee relation given that we live under the same roof.

These details might seem irrelevant but I felt the need to write about these to make a point that 100.000 immigrants is not some random number. We are talking about human beings, who have established lives in Turkey, not to mention that they touch other’s lives not as laborers but as human beings that we share moments with.

The Prime Minister of Turkey has positioned himself as a humanitarian by strongly opposing what he calls cruelty in Gazza.

Given this positioning, one can not grasp him as one, to go after a bunch of cleaning ladies to make a political point. The pen can be mightier than the sword. However Turks are not experts at using the pen as means of defense. Historical events are being evaluated by many. Turks do not come from the tradition of explaining themselves to other nations. Mainly because as an Emporium they did not really have to bother. Historically European Emporiums or Kingdom’s had many alliances mostly through marriages. The Spanish princess would grow up to be the wife of the English King; thereby the Queen of England or the Austrian Princess became the Queen of France.  Europeans are used to working out issues and explaining or justifying themselves to their neighbors. Turks however had expanded the Ottoman Empire through invasion. The attitude of resolving disputes through reasoning is just not part of the tradition. I believe that is one of the reasons Turks are not the best at expressing their side of any story. It is a state of being thorn between explaining or ignoring those accusing thereby giving them, the message that they are not being recognized as an authority on the matter. It is not only Turks that act with old habits. When accused of not acting Humane, China told the US President off, by simply saying “Check your own backyard!” (Implying the on going torture carried out by Americans at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp) After decades of poverty, the historical ruler attitude came back, just like that.

In this age presentation is everything I suppose. The British Empire used to be the Empire where the sun never sets. They ruled over so many areas that the Empire’s territory literally covered every time zone around the globe. The French had colonized many regions in Africa and the Middle East. I do not think that neither the French nor the British colonized these countries by kindly asking for permission to exploit those lands and their gold or diamond mines. One would assume that some blood was shed. Possibly entire areas of the same ethnic and national background. For some reason it is not considered genocide. Probably because their intention was not to wipe that nation or people of a certain ethnic background off the map, but while invading they killed many of the same nation.

It is difficult to find Native American’s in the States because almost the entire population was wiped off the map. Genocide or not?  Yet, I do not hear the whole world talking about this sad event, or hear about other nations having their own voting systems on the issue. Ironically Americans or French are the strongest supporters of the declaration of Armenian Genocide committed by the Turks.

This reminds me of a snap shot from the movie featuring Jesus Christ’s life story. Everyone was ready to stone Maria Magdalena until Jesus said “Those who have not sinned shall throw a stone at her.” None could go on.

**“The government of Azerbaijan claims that Armenian forces performed acts of genocide against Azerbaijani civilians on several occasions throughout the 20th century. The claims center on Azeri massacres in 1918 as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Human Rights Watch described the events in the Khojaly Massacre as “the largest massacre to date in the conflict”, and 30 from 636 members of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, recognized the “massacres perpetrated by the Armenians against the Azeri population from the beginning of the 19th Century” as genocide.[242]

Accordingly, Armenians brutally killed Azeri not way back in History but merely a century ago, yet the world does not gather to make a big issue out of it.

Those were the times. Somehow Turks killing while defending Ottoman territory as part of a war is considered an attempt to get rid of a certain nation. It was cruel. Those were times that every strong nation was cruel, as they are today. Aside from the fact that it was not only Turks who were cruel, which does not necessarily translate into genocide given that the nature of every war is cruel, at the time many Turks had been killed by Armenians. The Ottoman was loosing power; therefore territories ruled over were seeking outside support to rebel and part from the Empire. Defending land by oppressing rebellious acts was how things worked at the time. The intent was not to go after a specific nation such as Armenians but simply to defend the territory.

**“However, according to some interpretations, such as that of the Prior of the Franciscan monks living in the region of where the events happened, claims this was not an act of genocide and that it was a two sided battle: “when they advanced victoriously under the protection of the Russian Army, the same spectacle occurred as in the year of 1915, but that time it was the Turks who got it in the neck. Wherever the Armenians found a Turk he was mercilessly hacked down, wherever they saw a Turkish Mosque it was plundered and set on fire. Turkish quarters went up in smoke and flames just like the Armenian quarters. You are presently about to travel round the country and you will still be able to follow in the footsteps of war: Bayburt, Erzincan, Erzurum, and Kars. You will still see smoldering heaps of rubble; you will still smell blood and corpses, but it so happens that these were Turkish corpses.”[102]

I wonder if the Chinese reaction will in the future become another one of the many famous, wise, Chinese proverbs. “Check your own backyard!” I have a feeling that if persistently campaigned every year, all the Empires of the time can be proven guilty of genocide somewhere in the world and maybe even in more than one region, given the same logic is applied.

 Many people in XYZ part of Africa belonged to the same tribe! How many did you have to kill before you could colonize them? Ok, you’ve killed this many of the same nation so we can assume that you wanted to make sure that ethnicity went extinct through your killings! Thereby you have committed genocide.

Keep saying the same think every year at a certain date and in a few years you can declare the French, the English, the Italian, the American …..This list can go on… guilty of Genocide.

Personally I oppose all killings and hope for more peaceful times everywhere in the world. One hopes that mankind would evolve in time. The fact that many nations including the Ottomans had been cruel invaders at the time, when evaluated by today’s norms is sad enough, how will it help to carry that grudge to these times? So far the only outcome is that the poor Armenian women, who work in Turkey, feel uneasy and worried that they might be deported. Having said that despite of the historical disputes almost every news anchor has expressed their opposition to the deportation of Illegal Armenians in the country and Turkish civil organization made protests on the streets against the idea. The people of Turkey do openly support Armenian presence whether legal citizens or illegal. There is no hatred on this end. As the illegal immigrants chose Turkey as a destination to work, one assumes there is not so much hatred on that end either. Then I cannot help but wonder who does it help to stir up dispute and provoke hatred among the two nations?





Filed under Society, thoughts, Uncategorized

Memory Lane

She apologizes for sleeping with him right after I broke up with him. It does not really matter anymore; it was a long time ago. Did it hurt at the time? Hell yeah, he was the love of my life, she was my good girlfriend. I recall him telling me that he did not even find her really pretty but he was trying anything and everything to get over me. Some people have odd ways of justifying their actions. Who knows, maybe he was punishing me in his own way. I did not react. I was too numb to react. Although I had left him, I also was trying to get over him. I kept far, far away from his mates who thought I was gorgeous and told me I deserved better than him, on the contrary I warned him that those were not his real friends. Not only them, but I kept away from men in general. At least I never had to have a guilty conscious. Tonight she told me that he was in love with me even when with her. He only stood with her for two weeks, as he was still in love with me. She had to endure that yet she still seems to feel guilty. All of this happened ages ago and I could not care less. Why did we have to run into each other with her after so long? Who knows? I did not even recognize her until she reminded me who she was. Now that I remember, why do I genuinely feel love for her? Who knows? We had been good friends and I do not feel like fixating on that bad memory. I have been over him for a long, long time. The fact that he did such things helped me get over him although it caused tremendous agony at the time. I was a lady as ever, never crossed any boundaries that would cause him pain. All he had to endure was my absence. Looking back I am glad for my choices of the time. I guess it was easier to move on when there was no guilty feeling. He kept trying to patch things up for many years to come. I could not anymore, he had numbed me, with all the pain he caused. He had to live with the consequences of his actions, and I lived with mine. What she did was not very nice either. Tonight she told me that we were the most wonderful couple that she had ever seen. It shook her fate in love when we broke up. Who knows, maybe at the time she hoped that he would look in her eyes the way he looked into mine. Maybe that is why I forgive her so easily. Thank God I have always been the one to receive the gaze filled with love. Many judged me for not acting out, not being vengeful at the time. It was not because I was naïve, but because I was strong. Oddly how, after this many years when I had forgotten all about these events of the past I get the confirmation, that my ways were right. Acting with love no matter how bad things get, is a better way in the long run although it might not seem so at the time.

Leave a comment

Filed under love, thoughts, Uncategorized

Natural High


I have often thought that substance abusers must be seekers of the truth who experiment on their quest towards the truth. They know that there is more to life, than the ‘nine to five job’ or the ‘shiny car’. Sadly, I have observed the high state induced by the use of substances, being followed by the very low state. It seems like a cycle hard to get out of, as to get out of the very low they seem to run towards the uppers. The uppers use so much of their energy that the next day, they feel terribly down again. What a vicious cycle!

Running from one extreme to the other must be terribly tiring. I have never tried drugs.

In college I recall some friends wanting to share the substance experience with me. They were so impressed by the incredible high that they wanted to share the go through.  A friend was trying to talk me into using something that would make me dance till the break of dawn. I was already dancing till the break of dawn so what was the point? It had not yet occurred to me that not everyone felt naturally so energetic and happy which was one of the reasons they indulged in things that freed them from their inhibitions.

My point in the article of course is not to brag about what a fun person I am, or that they are wrong. It is just that I know that everyone is capable of feeling the natural high, without having to endure the horrible ‘down’ syndrome the next day. As children we all had this quality. During one of my visits to India I have seen all kinds of people from all over the world dancing and enjoying with no inhibitions whatsoever. Just like children. Lawyers, Scientists, Artists, Doctors, Merchants, House wives, even Politicians would just jump out of the crowd during a recital and start dancing, making others get up and dance along. Sahaja Yogis are fun people who love dancing, music and feasts. The upside is that because it is not induced with any kind of substance there is no down state the next day. Just like when we were kids, we could have all the fun and not be tired or in a state that makes us try to escape ourselves the next day.

I have had similar experiences in Togo Africa. It is admirable what great talent Africans have for music and dance. In spite of all the poverty and diseases they are in a constant dancing, singing and enjoying mood which I have a high regard for. One lady told me that she was surprised that the Westerners were feeling sorry for them. She said that although they had not much, they knew how to enjoy life and that she felt sorry for the Westerners as they are always so worried. I must admit that Africans know how to enjoy.

It has been my observation, as well as a known fact that substances tend to create addictions that are hard to break. It is the vicious cycle of, up and down that makes it hard to get out of the habit. This is something that I can relate to as I have personally fought nicotine addiction and it was very annoying to observe myself get edgy when my body craved nicotine. One of the reasons that I was disturbed was that it did not make any sense that an outside influence would have so much say, over my mood. That was the sad truth though. A few hours without cigarettes was making me, a less sweet person.

All the joy that I mentioned above was disappearing! Can you imagine? What could possibly possess me to put myself into such a dependant state? Eventually I rebelled against that kind of seize. It was difficult in the beginning but a great relief once I cleared out.

I believe that substance abusers are seekers. I also believe that the awakening of the Kundalini is one the best experiences of the feeling ‘high’ ever possible. One feels empowered in so many ways, yet joyful, yet humbled, invincible even. More in control, yet no need to control.  It feels like one has entered the Kingdom of God. As the awakening is spontaneous the realization of all the transformation might come in the most subtle ways. I recall meditating with a friend this summer. He kind of felt something that he could not even pinpoint. Later he explained the experience beautifully. He said that soon after he left my apartment “the high kicked in”. He had lost his job, his apartment, practically everything in his life was falling apart, yet he could not stop smiling, laughing and joking. The job and the rest worked itself out in time, as it always somehow does. He felt idyllic even before it all worked out, which was a priceless ability, when nothing seemed to work.

Below you can find the link if you are curious about this wonderful state “The Awakening of the Kundalini” through Sahaja Yoga.

Leave a comment

Filed under faith, Habit, Joy, love, thoughts, Uncategorized

Time for Indulgence!

I started writing the below piece in January and did not finish, nor publish it. I enjoy finding such pieces on my computer from time to time. 

“Love always finds its way back to us. Today I had my first Sahaja Yoga Class in the new year. I really enjoyed it. 

It was difficult to arrange the time and please everyone who wants to join etc. 

So on the car ride there I was thinking to myself, if it is getting too complicated maybe I should just stop after this class. After all, these are voluntary activities and lately I don’t feel like I have the patience or the desire to deal with complicated situations.

This year I hope to have less complications in my life, so if something appears stuck, not progressing, the Yogi like thing to do would be to let go.  The same rule can be applied to many aspects of life, whether it is business or personal. After enough try, if something is not progressing, it is probably not meant to, so it is time to accept and move on. 

Anyway, I was feeling this type of detachment towards the class as well, since organizing a class appeared to be more complicated than meant to be, however I was pleasantly surprised otherwise upon arrival. 

I felt love. 

There was pastry and tea and everyone started chatting. It was nice. Gradually, I turned on some meditative music and eventually, I said “Shall we start?”

We broke away from the delightful tea and chat mode and transitioned into the meditation mood. The moment the meditation started I felt my Shakti power manifest itself. 

The power of a yogini is a very subtle power. There is nothing loud about it. It is the ability to sense others and transform situations. It is also a very dignified power. This week I was judged for not being so loud and making an effort to be the center of attention. 

This is an absurd notion for a yogini. We are meant to be poised and dignified. Anyhow, I never had try to get the attention of a crowd or a person, it always happened naturally. 

Today, during class there was one woman, she came to the venue for a beauty treatment and heard of the class, thus joined by coincidence. She seemed so miserable when she first sat down. After an hour of meditation I could see the spark in her eyes and it gave me tremendous joy. She told me that she had been depressed lately and that the meditation made her feel so much better. I don’t know her story but I could sense that she had been oppressed by someone and my heart went out to her. 

Triggering her transformation is the power of Sahaja Yoga which is the power of love. This love that yogis and yoginis are meant to exhume can be very magnetic thus a true yogi or yogini should not have to try at all for attention. 

Also love always comes back to anyone who sends it out there. So these past few days I have been feeling it every which way and it felt good. 

I have a desire for certain changes in my life which renders me less willing to deal with non-progressive situations. “

A few months went by since I wrote those lines. 

One of the changes that happened spontaneously in my life has been doing more fun activities. I was very involved with volunteer work for a long time. I still am but the time I allocate has become much less. 

I enjoy doing fun stuff lately. 

Spontaneously my life has shifted towards a lot of indulgence. I needed it, so I am enjoying it. 

I’ve had accupuncture treatment from a dear friend who is  a wonderful healer. I have been eating a certain way to treat my body well. Having, ski trips enjoying the mountains, SPA trips enjoying the natural healing waters.

Sports and SPA’s, have become a bigger part of my life. I’m working towards a project that really excites me. 

I am loving it all. 

Sharing love with those in need may be good but sometimes taking a step back and focusing on oneself is also very good. 

I did not realize that I was starting to feel a bit drained but distancing myself from it all has made me feel the way I did when I was fresh out of college before life started. 

Careless and joyful!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Year of Dancing

2018 is over. It was a year filled with ups and downs.

My worst memory of the year was my mom being rushed to the hospital with a heart condition and me going after the ambulance not knowing how I will find her.

It was a big trauma.

Once she got better we took a long family vacation and it felt really good. We enjoyed like we had not in a long time. I messed up some of the fun by still being worried about her but all in all it was delightful.

The year ended with its ups and downs and my first day of 2019 has felt great. Nothing special about the day but a familiar feeling has returned. Some music came up on the radio and I started dancing in the house out of the blue.

The song below.

Dancing even when alone just because I am taken by the music, used to be so typical of me. In  fact I used to be known for my dancing. Recently a friend from college wrote on my facebook wall that he always remembers me with my dancing. Some of my best friends were from Spain and they taught me to dance the Sevillanas. We used to dance so much.

When I first met my Guru Shri Mataji She said to me “Aa the dancer”. She had noticed me dancing in the crowd before I was introduced to her.

I remember my first boyfriend with whom I used to live together in the states had invited me to Miami a while after we had broken up. His mates were the boys I knew from Istanbul. They had all asked me to cook a proper Turkish meal. So here we were in Miami of course latin music on the radio. I was dancing away with my  wooden spoon in one hand in the air, keeping up with the rythim while cooking. My ex said “Forget the cooking and spoiling me, this joy is what I miss most about you.” 

Another memory when I was still in my teens. We had gone to this place called Zihni with my family, which was very popular by the Bosphorus. There was a Cubana live group and as I was keeping rhythm with them they pulled me onto the stage to keep up with them…we enjoyed so much.

Then comes a memory from last year. One of my mom’s good friends with whom I am in the same charity was dancing at an all ladies event with live music. When I joined them upon being asked she was surprised that I would dance. Her image of me was too poised or something. I whispered into her ear “I am part Bosnian part, Circassian descent it is in my veins.” 

Anyhow, I always enjoy either way but life has become a tad too serious over the last decade and I miss the “let your hair down and simply go with the music feeling.” 

(Zumba pool party at my gym in 2011)

The feeling suddenly came back and I hope it will stay with me throughout the year and then some….



Leave a comment

Filed under Joy, Uncategorized

It’s about time Syrians get Syria back!

The US decided to withdraw their troops out of Syria after years of presence there. Many American Senators and so forth seem distressed that this move will leave the Kurds in a tough spot. They consider Kurds their biggest ally and think that siding with the ally’s enemy is a terrible thing to do.

I am surprised that most of them appear so unaware that Turkey and the US have been allies for 60 years until recently when the US decided to arm the Kurds who use some of those weapons on Turkish soil via PKK which is accepted as a terror organization by NATO, US, EU and many other countries, there has been a slight fall out.

So the fighting Kurdish forces that everyone seems to be so lovey dewy about, happen to bomb and kill ordinary people in Turkish cities, just like any other terrorist organization does and is condemned when they do.

I understand that some may be sympathetic to the idea that Kurds should separate and have their own country etc.

None of those sympathetic people seem to consider the results of putting such an idea into motion. In order to realize this dream the Kurds need to fight and take the land from whomever has legal claim over the territory currently.

Their dream is to have this huge country that is part Turkish territory, part Syrian territory and part Iraqi territory.

Now there are a few glitches in this plan that the so called idealist who sympathize with this idea seem to miss.

There are millions of Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey and Europe is willing to pay Turkey to prevent them from shifting to Europe. The US hardly accepted any of them, the Arabs slammed their doors although most of these refugees are Arab muslims and could easily adapt in the Arabic countries.
Turkey’s aspiration has been for the region to be cleared of all kinds of terrorists and for the Syrians to be able to go back to their homeland and live safely.

Of course Kurds want to own the territories where Syrian Arabs used to live so any force that fights there, even when it is against ISIS they call them Jihadists to continue the western support.

The west appears to be convinced that the Kurds have been the biggest threat against ISIS.

This is a misconception too. The US has tried to convince its ally Turkey for many years to send troops into Syria and Turkey refused. Instead suggested to help Syrians build an army and defend their territory. This army is called the Free Syrian Army. They have failed which opened up space for organizations such as ISIS or PKK which is the same army under the name of YPG.

Now ordinary men who fled the country to be trained and sent to defend their land appeared like a good idea but they were not as effective as members of terror organizations that are used to combat.

As years went by Kurds got their hopes up that they can be the new Lords of the regions that were vacated by fleeing Syrians.

This may seem OK in the eyes of those sympathetic to the idea of Kurds having their own country. However international support said one thing and did another.

What about all the Syrians that vacated that land, as mentioned earlier they are hardly welcomed anywhere. Had they been welcomed in the west, offering their land up for grabs would be one thing. But not welcoming them anywhere but also wanting their land to be handed out to the Kurds, really?!?
So it is very much in Turkey’s interest that those territories are cleared of terrorist and that the millions of refugees hosted by the Turks can go back home safe and sound.
Now, after years of not wanting to send troops to the region Turkey eventually has started sending troops down there and securing territories from ISIS or anyone was a matter of hours wherever the army went.

The groups within the regions that were cleared are mostly various terrorist groups such as ISIS itself, not actual armies.

Now this was a problem for Kurdish fighting groups because they were hoping to secure the territories cleared from ISIS, as their own and later on try to break land from Iraq and Turkey as well.

When Turks clear the region they do it for the Syrians who had to flee.

Now that the Kurdish fighters have lost the backing of the US they appear terrified of what Turks will do to them. In fact there is nothing to be so terrified.

Unless they fight Turks they are not in harms way. However if they want to claim the land that was in fact inhabited by the Syrians until they fled, and if they are willing fight for it, they need to consider whether they have the power to do so.

Of course they don’t, they were counting on the US to give them a country that is stretched over territories of other existing countries.

Another glitch is that this is against Turkish interest in matters of national security. So, Turkey was never going to allow a terrorist group that has been attacking civilians of the nation for over 30 years to share a border with Turkey.

I know, these days it is fashionable to consider Kurdish fighters to be activists not terrorists but the law says otherwise. In fact the US being Turkey’s ally for decades, captured Abdullah Ocalan the leader of The Kurdish terrorist group in Kenya in 1999 and handed him over to Turkey. He has been imprisoned since then. The PKK is on the US terrorist list since 1997

The PYD and PKK are the same organization with the same leaders and commanders.

So, for those who seem so upset that the US left the Kurds with no support;

-the US was never going to go into war with Turkey to build a county for the Kurds.
-Kurds did not fight ISIS to defend the western world from a terrorist group such as ISIS, Kurds fought ISIS in hopes of grabbing the territory.
-The millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey and the hundreds of thousands in the west, where they are in fact not welcome, deserve to go back home.
-For years, Erdogan has been asking the world to resolve this refugee issue by having no fly zone safe areas rebuilt in Syria for these refugees to go back and start their lives, yet none of the involved parties accepted.
-Syrian lives should matter too, so those ‘humanitarians’ who appear so worried about the safety of Kurds in Syria should realize that the Kurds they worry about are combat fighters not civilians.
-They are Kurdish Combat fighters who want to attack the Turkish troops while themselves remain under the protection of the American Army.
-The US entered Syria to protect Americans from organizations such as ISIS, not to build a country for anyone.
So Trump’s decision to step out and let Erdoğan clear out ISIS is a wise decision. Turkish troops have been wiping ISIS out and President Erdoğan even made a call to the refugees in Turkey that they will be assisted in relocation to the safe zones if they chose to do so, that schools, hospitals and all needs will be built in these areas by Turks so that they can have a normal life. Same goes for ordinary Kurdish citizens of Syria. Nobody is going to wipe them out, on the contrary they will be helped in rebuilding their cities and lives.

However this dream of attacking Turkish troops, gaining territory over vacated Syrian land is and was always unlikely. I read things such as French support or Saudi Arabian support of the Kurds. This will be another empty hope, bound to end in disappointment for the Kurds.

The Saudis did not accept fleeing Syrian Arabs into their country, I doubt that they would go against Turkish troops in support of Kurdish Guerrilla fighters. Also some points that are missed sometimes is that Turks ruled over the whole region, for 400 years up until a hundred years ago. Their memories of the Turkish army are fresh.

As to France, Turkey and France are both members of the NATO, I doubt that they will team up with with the Kurdish Guerrilla forces that want to attack Turkish troops.

So in summary; the US troops getting out of Syria while supporting the idea of Turks clearing out ISIS may bring a very good outcome for the Syrian refugees that have been suffering for years now. Having their homeland to live in peace!
As to Kurds, they as well can live there in peace should the region be cleared of terrorists.

It’s just that this war has been going on for 7 years now and Kurdish Guerilla forces still have not been able to clear out ISIS. How is it fair for Kurds to claim a land that belonged and was inhabited by Syrians when they could not even defend it against ISIS?

This may sound harsh but Kurdish fighters are in fact the PKK terrorists with a new name and when they fight other terrorists the mess is what you see in Syria and the world’s refugee problem of ordinary civilians who fled from all the terrorists is what happens.

It’s about time Syrians get Syria back!

Leave a comment

Filed under Islam, Politics, Syria, Uncategorized

Social Media Clear Out!

It is a very cozy Sunday. I have been cuddling with my doggies, enjoying foamy cappuccinos, just feeling calm.

A week ago my volunteer Sahaja Yoga class was featured on the news and in some magazines. It did not mean so much to me in the sense that I believe that at the level of spirit we are all one, so sometimes I end up sharing my love with housewives at a community center, sometimes with small children in Lebanon or in Istanbul other times at more Hip centers of art and dances. Either way the principle does not change, we meditate together and through the awakening of the Kundalini transformation finds us.


Shri Mataji, the founder of Sahaja Yoga has hundreds of speeches where she always asks yogis to give realization which is the awakening of the kundalini. She had been nominated for a world peace award by the Nobel committee, although someone else got the award that year, there is a reason She was nominated.

The more positive, loving, peaceful people there are, the better the world becomes. Simple as that!

Once the kundalini is awakened, if the person continues to meditate the chakras clear out and they become happier, ideally.


However truly understanding the philosophy is something else. I was lucky to be introduced to it at a young age, thus I was formulated with the knowledge.

So all my life I have had volunteer Sahaja Yoga classes here and there. Last year I met a lady who is elder than me and she had also been in Sahaja Yoga for a long time. She is from Antalya and as we were chatting I told her that I had one appearance at local TV channel in Antalya in 1999 or so, I was translating for a foreigner yogi who was giving realization.

She said “Oh my God! That is when I received my realization. I remember I was watching the show and your voice was so calming that I repeated the moves and it felt so nice that I started joining the local classes.” I was a blonde at the time, so when we met years later, she never knew that I was the person she had seen on TV ages ago.

Anyhow, I was touched by this story.

When I was doing the classes at the local community center I asked other Sahaja Yogis for help so that we can have bigger programs since I had such good relations with the municipality and they have very nice buildings with suitable halls.

For years I brought this up, and got no support whatsoever. Such a program needs to be done collectively with a music program and maybe a classical Indian dance. At least that is how its done everywhere else in the world.

Neither the dancer nor the musicians were interested in supporting me.

Instead of complaining about it, I sought other environments where I can spread the love. So recently I started a new class which was featured on the national news last week.

It seems that suddenly so many yogis took interest in the matter.

I had no idea actually, I called a friend just to ask her to send some positive vibrations my way, because I was feeling very heavy on vibes. She thought I called her in regards to the criticism. I asked her “What criticism?”

Turns out she was being polite. There was a facebook group that I used to be part of, and they removed me, in order to comfortably gossip about me?!?

I did not even realize that I was removed because I never read the posts which were mostly whining about this and that.

She read the comments and I was surprised that some were from people who would smile to my face of course.
The one that most surprised me was from one lady who is closer to my Mom’s age. She and her sister used to practice Sahaja Yoga and then they stopped for 15 years. Then I visited her sister and invited her to the Sahaja Yoga Center.
I was actually warned at the center that she is the worst gossiper who only likes to stir the pot wherever she goes. Of course, being the ever optimist I embraced her with an open heart and defended her behind her back. I never told her that I had to work to get her accepted into the environment, or that she or her sister were in fact unwelcome. A true yogi would not reveal such a thing when it’s her own deed. The end result was what mattered.

Anyway, a few years later she was pushed away and my mom revealed this to her and she was in shock because she felt she was more of a yogi than anyone and everyone.

So considering that their return to practicing Sahaja Yoga happened through me, I was a bit baffled with her comments.

Turns out the lady from Antalya who found my voice calming and came to the Sahaja Yoga Center ages ago defended me and told everyone to be inspired instead of critical of me.
There were other defenders as well and those who were critical were rather petty about it. They were annoyed that it was stated that I have practiced Sahaja Yoga in many countries from Africa to India to Italy to Lebanon to America and so forth. They know it is true so they could not say anything about that but were against it being expressed.

IMG_7326 2

Turns out they had a problem with my Sari as well.

Ironically, Indian Sahaja Yogis always compliment on my Sari and tell me that it looks just like Shri Mataji’s saris. So when they comment on photos I tell them that I bought them from the sari shop where Shri Mataji used to shop in Pune. They act delighted.


The whole story is also sweet.

I was in Indonesia from where I was going to go to India. Yogiji Uncle said I should spend a few days at his aunts house in Mumbai before I arrived to Pune. They are not Sahaja Yogis but his family is very eminent.

They took me to a wedding at the Taj hotel as soon as arrived. I had changed into a nice western evening gown on the plane as their driver took me straight to the wedding from the airport. It was lavish and went on for days and days at various Taj Hotel locations. It turns out a very prominent Bollywood Producer’s daughter was getting married so all Bollywood was at the wedding. I don’t know Indian celebrtities but from the way they carried themselves I could tell who was the megastar and so forth. It was fun.

Anyhow his aunt took a look at my existing saris and told me they are not suitable. She told me that I have to choose the pure silk ones. So with Yogi Uncle’s daughter Pragya we went to the store where Shri Mataji bought her saris and I bought my silk saris.

I love saris for I find them so graceful. During my last visit in the Himalayas, Yogiji Uncle had gifted me a beautiful sari. So his other aunt invited me to their estate. I wore the sari and since it was a short walk from the ashram I insisted to walk instead of being driven there.

As, I was chatting with them, aunties husband told me that I really know how to carry myself in a sari, he said “most westerner women don’t know how to walk in it.” I was very pleased to hear this.

A sari is basically a long cloth with no stitches, if you do not wear it properly it can run off of one.
As they were taping the class for the news the cameraman was asking me to move here and there and he did not understand why I was not swift. There was a slight sense of urgency in his voice. Eventually, I told him “Have you ever worn a sari? You do realize that is just a cloth right?” He looked surprised and started laughing while apologizing for not understanding sooner. I love it that the sari also makes us behave so graceful by its nature.

Anyhow, going back to the topic of gossipers when I heard about it, I was a bit annoyed at first but then decided not to react.

“If they cannot say anything to my face let them remain behind me” has been my policy against gossipers all my life.

If they meditated they would not be able to behave this way. Clearly they like to be part of a community but did not get the essence of the philosophy of Sahaja Yoga.

So I am glad that they are never around to support my programs because they would have misrepresented Sahaja Yoga anyway.

This Saturday I went to the class again and there was this one lady. She had seen us on the news and called the place, asked to come. After mediation she explained that she had lost her father to cancer and during the fight for his life she developed an illness.
She felt the vibrations. I don’t know if she will continue but as I always say, one person that I may reach out to, matters! She did feel the cool breeze on top of her head as we were mediating which is her awakened kundalini.

When I heard her story, it felt worththe unpleasant behavior that I had to endure from so called yogis.

Of course it was nice to discover the defenders behind my back as well.

So today I removed the gossipers from my social media, it turns out they even took screen shots of my instagram to share in this closed group and to gossip under those photos.


Every class I repeat that we have to forgive. I also always explain that it does not mean that we have to keep enduring. So disconnecting from them is my best response. They don’t get to smile to my face while speaking behind my back.

Luckily I am someone who is always more surrounded by sweetness than bitterness, so let them sulk in their misery.

Actually Sahaja Yogis are supposed to be all about joy, because that is what happens when someone’s chakras clear out. Even during class, I mostly advise first comers “Do not try to hold it in if you have to laugh all of a sudden, it is not rude to me, Sahaja Yoga brings out childlike joy and some people cannot hold their giggles during class, which is fine.”

So how other yogis lack this joy is beyond my comprehension sometimes. Obviously they do not meditate, otherwise this would not be possible. There is so much joy in meditating, I find it hard to understand how those exposed to this feeling abandon it and start acting like ordinary souls. The journey of a yogi is about spiritual evolvement of the self. Anyway, today letting go of them by disconnecting through social media felt like a nice clear out too.

It also made me realize what a blessing it is to have the inner peace to simply enjoy cuddling with my doggies and foamy cappuccinos…

Leave a comment

Filed under faith, Joy, love, Uncategorized

Cannot? Why not?

I have been writing so many blogs none of which I shared lately. It always felt too personal to share by the time I was done. Feelings are pouring out of me as soon as I start writing and I find it ever so therapeutic. 


Sometimes just writing is better than sharing. 


Anyhow this blog, I hope to share, let’s see how I will feel by the time I am done. 


I have been very occupied with work lately. However yesterday I went to watch a movie that was directed by the famous director Ferzan Özpetek. It was a special screening at the Soho House Istanbul and he had joined us for a Q&A session. 


I was delighted to meet him in person. Aside from his vibrant personality, his humility was very sweet. He made us all feel like we’ve known him forever. 


As he was chatting with the audience I mentioned a line that got stuck with me in one of his previous films. I could not remember the name of the film, but the taste of it was with me. The line expressed how I feel sometimes which is why I liked it so much. 


The lead guy said, “I may not be able to tell you, or show you how I feel but give me a pen and paper and I can suddenly explain it all.”


Yes, writing is one of my rescue places even though I don’t always chose to share what I write. 

As a child when we had an argument with my mom, I used to write her letters to express my point of view. She kept some of them. 


Anyhow, the film, meeting a wonderful creative person was delightful. 


Today work also felt good. One of my businesses is a cancer test. I have been trying to establish it for over a year now. It is a German test where the number of cancer cells is detected in a certain amount of blood. We are in fact sending the patients’ blood to a very eminent Professor in Germany who has been awarded by the German Research and education Ministry for his innovations in the field of Cancer. Through his success and the awards her won, he had made it to the news here as well in 2008. 


We have been offering this Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC) test for more than a year as I mentioned above. 


My initial introduction has been very difficult as I am not a doctor, telling eminent Professors of the nation of something more advanced than their awareness was not so easy.


Some of them acted like, “If something so advanced existed, I would have heard about it.” 


However one of the most eminent Professors called Nil Molinas told me during our meeting. “Thank you for bringing this test here. I have heard about this during conferences abroad. I am glad that it exists here now. Please, talk to Germany and learn how to take best advantage of the test.”


It was her attitude that lifted up my spirits. Then another Professor told me, Wow I know this test. It is so important, based on the results we can improve our treatment options.His only concern was weather the blood is keeping intact traveling to Germany or are the cancer cells dying. 


I shared with him studies on this how it was ok up until 72 hours and he was convinced. So he started referring patients to us. For me this has been an interesting experience because I am not a doctor and I have to explain to the top doctors of the nation why they should be using this test. 

Academics like to debate. I love debates by nature. This helped me while trying to explain but at times I was getting tired. Most doctors were very positive and receptive of course but some were not. 


There was one doctor to whom I had explained the CTC test when we first started and he took notes and told me that he never heard of this but he will research. About eight months later I visited him again. I was telling him more details about the test yet he was looking at his computer screen. 


I told him “I feel like I don’t have your attention, are you busy?” 


He said “Miss. Banu who does not know CTC? Any established oncologist knows about it” So he did not remember that the first time he heard about the test in his life was through me. I did not say anything.


Another interesting one was a very well known Professor who plain old told me that this test does not exist, Germans make up stuff. 


I was so baffled that I just told her if this is how she feels there is not much to talk about but she can be very sure that this is a real established test used by the western world only, so far it does not exist in the east. 


I was so annoyed as I left her office. 


Today, I was having a meeting with the Turkish Cancer Association and they told me that she is the biggest advocate of Liquid Biopsy and the CTC test. 


Well hello and good morning for catching up with what I was trying to tell her about, one and a half year later!


Still, it made me feel terrific! 


Of course we have been offering the test for a while now, and also I have more experience with the test results and how doctors use these results but still my meetings have become easier which I am happy about. 


I recall another very eminent Professor who kept challenging me as academics like to do which I respect and have no problem with. 

I told him during one of our chats “Professor, I bet the difference but how do I explain myself to you without coming across like I am disrespecting all your years in the field.” He smiled and was treating me like one of his pupils anyway so he told me “Let’s research”


I had already brought him all kinds of academic articles but I gave it one more try and I told him “Breast Cancer Society” has it on their web site, they suggest this test. 


He said show me, I found the page on his computer. Then he said OK then FDA must have approved it.He printed out the FDA approval for me. 


Europe does not accept FDA but this test exists both in Europe and the US and Turkish doctors kept asking me about FDA approvals although the test was being done in Germany. 


Anyhow, it was very sweet of him. He told me I know how my fellow doctors think, show them this. 


So during this journey I came across all kinds of interesting Doctors most of which I really, really liked.  


 There is something pleasant in conversing with doctors. I think because people look to them to save their lives, they develop a different quality of confidence combined with compassion which I find very appealing. 


However being the first to tell them about something that they would possibly expect to be hearing from another Professor or something made my job, very, very challenging. 


Now, the concept of liquid biopsy and CTC has become better known which also has changed the way my meetings go.


The world of cancer is a very sad world, so I like that this test that detects early recurrences can save lives. 

I recall on one instant I had visited a Professor at the hospital and his patient came there so that we can get her blood to be tested. As I was talking to the patient another old man in the room who was getting chemo was trying to talk to me but I could not because I was busy talking with the patient that I had arrived for, her blood was getting drawn and I had to talk the nurse through the steps.


I told the man to give me a moment and that I would attend to him. 


He was gone, so I saw him and his wife later downstairs. They appeared a bit like villagers. Anyway, I apologized and explained that I could not chat with him then because I was with a patient. His wife smiled and said “Don’t worry, I can tell you are a humble person.” 


It was a sweet remark. 


I have been working in this field establishing everything from scratch against all challenges and the last few meeting that I had, the test is finally being treated as something that needs to be sought after. Today, I was thanked for bringing such an important test to Turkey. It made me feel really well!


Sadly, my beautiful country is also a country of “Cannots”.


I recall when I initially arrived back from America; I found a job at an advertising agency as my first job. It was a small agency but the clients were, P&G, Coca-Cola, Efes Pilsen and so forth. Really huge clients. 


I was fresh out of school; had no work experience and my boss placed me to new business. This was around 2001-2002; there was a huge economical crisis. What new business? 


Also I had left the country as a high school student came back after college. I did not have the connections it takes to bring new business. But I had my lists of potential clients, my skills as a presenter the way I was built in business school and my determination. 

The lists were just names of big companies, no contact name or phone number. 


Anyway, I was calling everyone and getting meetings and this and that, ever the positive person that I am. One woman who was at least ten years elder than me told me once, 


“You think it’s easy? You cannot get appointments and even if you do you cannot get clients. This is not America! You think everything is easy! It’s not.” 



I did not care what she said; I kept my spirits high and kept at my job. Meanwhile my boss was taking me to meetings with the CEO’s of companies such as Coca-Cola and Efes Pilsen and was asking me to do the presentations, which would have never happened right out of school if I were at a huge advertising agency. 

I am guessing the people senior to me in age were annoyed by that. 


My boss however had noticed my skills of diplomacy. On one instant she told me to fly to Korea over the weekend to smooth things over between FIFA’s official accommodation office and Coca-Cola Turkey. It was about the World Cup. Coca-Cola being a sponsor wanted 250 of the best rooms reserved at the Lotte hotel which was the best in town, way after the deadline for Reservations were finished. FIFA was saying Coca-Cola companies are coming in from all over the world including an insane amount of visitors from China.  It is the World Cup! There is no way they can get the best rooms so far after the deadline, the town is booked. 


Looking back, I still don’t know how I got those rooms. This is being a yogini. Divine helped me. Because we are not talking about one or two rooms but 250 rooms. 

The FIFA people liked me, they even invited me to a private party with the referees some players etc. which I did not go to. I am not into football. 


So the cannot be done chorus had sent me off properly with discouragement but my boss believed in me. 


Anyway, about the new business, despite of their negative nagging after 6 months of calling I finally got an appointment with Turkcell which was the number one GSM operator and would have been a huge client at the time. 


I remember after calling for six months with no appointment, I snapped at the lady over the phone. I said “I am the agency of such and such companies, how is it that I cannot even get an appointment from you for 6 months now.” 


They asked for a presentation, which I prepared and we got a meeting right away finally. 


The nagging woman, who was way senior to me, told me, “You really think that you can get them as a client? They are just giving a meeting, don’t get too excited.” 


I was very positive of course. We landed a three months contract. This time the woman and others kept telling me that I cannot run an operation. 

I had to hire a team, make sure they are trained and supervised properly etc. It was not rocket science really! 

Anyway, it was very successful; they were very happy and gave us a retainer contract for 6 months. The woman, who was picking on me, was still at it. My God, she would not stop. She kept telling me that the first successful operation was by luck that I was going to fail at this task, as it was all over Turkey. 


I did not. It all went perfectly fine, to the extent that when I changed agencies the client decided to come with me to the new agency. I did not snatch them or anything. It was just that they were happy with the way I was running things and wanted things to continue being smooth. 


Anyhow, from the day I have returned to Turkey, I have heard the “can’t be done, is not possible…etc” with everything that I ever worked on so many times that each time when I feel my determination being rewarded in the slightest way, it makes me smile. 


Another example I had was during a pitch meeting with NTV for a documentary project. 


Whatever field I have ever worked in I always started with no connections, knowing nobody in the industry. This was the case when I decided to make a documentary. I had done the research and written it, based on a request from the publishing world as I was already a writer. 


They said why don’t you write a documentary and we will film it together. 


I agreed did the research in three different languages in fact. Anyway since the project with those who gave me the idea to do a documentary fell through I decided to pitch it to TV channels myself. 


I got an appointment from the head of a network that includes NTV, based on my pitch e-mail. Since he was the head of the whole network, I was really happy because I had heard from the other people with whom it did not work out, the sentence “You can’t….” 


Anyhow, the head of the network loved my idea and said Do not worry about filming it; we’ll do it in house.I had told him that I have not made a film but only written so far. 

He told me to speak to the guy who is in charge of NTV Tarih (History magazine).


I spoke to the guy and there were the “Cannot be done, does not exist…etc.” again.

The guy in charge of the history magazine told me that Amazons did not exist. I told him Heredotus wrote about them, there are monuments in our country where they used to live; all my research is done from Harvard and Stanford library etc credible academic sources. 


He asked me to write the first episode. I agreed. 


Sadly, a supposed authority on TV in regards to history programs, did not know what I knew and presented to him….how was this is possible?!?


This is the truth of my country…nobody researches squat!


Anyhow, I sent the script of the first episode via e-mail and they published it in the magazine NTV Tarih with minor changes without giving me credit. They also aired one episode as a documentary. I had not given them the rest. 


I did not care! I am the ever optimist. It meant that my work is good enough to be stolen and the guy who was considered a sort of authority, learned something from me. I had information accumulated over a life time….I could write so many more episodes. I wrote an e-mail pointing this out. They did not respond and I moved on.


Anyhow, later on I wrote and filmed another documentary which was aired somewhere else…


My point is that I don’t even have one story where I did not encounter the “Can’t be done, doesn’t exist, I would have known…etc” type of discouragement. 


I don’t know why my culture is like this. I also don’t know how I continue against the chorus of “cannot be done”


However the small moments like today give me joy. To hear that the Professor who gave me the hardest time over the test we offer, has become the biggest advocate of this novelty in the cancer field….wow!


So if anyone out there reading this is trying for something and everyone tells them it can’t be done….just keep at it….










Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Spotted: Elegance on Trashy TV!

Yesterday, I had one of the most hilarious days. The president and some members of our charity were invited to a TV show. I knew of the host, but I had not watched her show. She used to have a very popular but trashy marriage show.

We were told that since marriage programs are not allowed anymore, she has a new show that is more about social causes.

I thought this is kind of nice.

The name of the host is Esra Erol.

Anyway members of the charity and the president, we all got ready to go there. Of course we were very chic as ever. Our aim was to talk about premature babies and the cause of saving their lives etc. This is the week of Prematurely Born Babies, so it is a good time to draw attention to the cause. The color of the occasion is purple so we were dressed accordingly.

Anyway once we got there, they seated us with the audience. This was a bit absurd because we were sure that we were invited to talk about the cause. It turns out there was a misunderstanding.

The show itself was terrible. It was something like the Jerry Springer Show, where trashy families fight about their situations. We were all in shock that we had been seated with this weird crowd of people who are paid to watch the show as an audience.

The problem was not that they were from different socio-economic and socio-cultural strata than us. Being members of a charity organization, we are always involved with the less fortunate. Helping them is our cause. So we would never look down on anyone for such reason.

The problem was that these were trashy TV personas of the lowest level, getting attention through twisted scandalous family relations and fights. So here we were seated amongst this weird crowd in our elegant attire and our sour facial expressions looking completely out of place. Not only that but within the studio, we were placed to the lower cast according to the weird hierarchy that was taking place amongst the members of the trashy-fighting-attitude audiences.

One of the ladies in our group was approached by a lady sitting behind her and she asked if they also pay us to be sitting in the audience. She did not engage in a conversation.  In fact, she was the reason that our charity went there, her family’s company was a sponsor of the show.

Another lady was dressed in all Chanel with a large Chanel pin that completed her part lacy chic attire.  Her outfit looked very elegant which made it all the more funnier that we were seated with the people who were hired to occupy seats and yell a lot when it comes down to it.

It was a rainy day so I was wearing long boots which I had changed in the car and wore Dior pumps as they were more flattering with my outfit and had an accessory in line with our purple theme of Premature Babies Cause.

The president of our charity was wearing an elegant Purple dress.

These details may seem irrelevant but the chicness and the treatment we received was in so much contrast that I could not stop laughing about it. This was trashy TV, a whole different world.

Another lady in our charity is the wife of the head of the American -Turkish Business Association; she looked so irritated that I could not contain my laughs which also made her laugh in the end.

Some lady from the audience approached me and told me what a coincidence that today she wore a scarf and tied it just like mine?!?

I was not wearing a scarf! I had a shawl with my coat maybe she was referring to that, who knows? But it was weird so I did not engage in conversation.

Anyway, we were going to leave before the show starts but they convinced us that there was a misunderstanding and we will get airtime to talk about the cause. So we sat down, uneasy.

I still could not stop laughing because my friends looked so irritated, their facial expressions was making me laugh and laugh. At some point I thought that my mascara will start running from tears arriving because of the laughs.

Anyhow the show started and of course there was one peasant woman as a guest and she was complaining about her married step daughter who ran off with another married man. She left her kids behind etc. I could not bring myself to pay attention but then the daughter said that the step mother was sleeping with her own son which is why she left!!!

OK, it was official, in my elegant attire and demure attitude I was on the Turkish version of the Jerry Springer Show! Extramarital relations, incest everything was there! What’s next? On camera audience fights? Who knows?

A few years ago I was analyzing politics and getting reader mail on how inspiring my articles are and look at me now, sitting pretty on a Jerry Springer type of show.

Luckily I was sitting behind the cameraman and could not be seen, but the friend in lace and a large Chanel pin and our president in her purple attire were apparently rather visible on camera. Their husbands texted them “Get out of there immediately, what are doing sitting with the audience?!?”

It took me a while to contain my laughs. As soon as there was a commercial break we ran out of there. The wife of the head of the American Turkish Business Association was also not visible on camera so she relaxed.

We went to dinner which was part of our plans anyway.

Dinner was a lot of fun. We did not get to speak about the cause but I made a note to myself to keep far far away from trashy shows, even if it is to speak about a good cause.

It was a funny occasion and it will make a good story over the years.

At dinner we were chatting about this and that and then one of the lady’s husband joined us. I found myself in a conversation about history and politics which never happens with this group of ladies. It was a fun evening.

Recently, I had considered quitting with the volunteer work and the charity work for a little while. That has not happened, on the contrary I found myself even more involved than before.

I don’t know how, but it just turned out to be so.

We had a bunch of activities lately and one of them was an event for children. We gave presents to 5 year old kids who had been prematurely born and literally are little miracles for holding tight onto life and to be running around now. A singer came and sang for the kids. It was such a heartwarming occasion that I absolutely loved it.

I think this part; where I feel involved with the people whose lives we try to touch, appeals to me more than the fundraising events. However without those we can’t touch these lives so I like them as well.

I am kind of glad that I did not stop being involved with activities that are focused on helping others. Turkey is going through a serious economical crises and whomever I talk to is upset for fair reasons.

I called the owner of an economics magazine today and told him what happened to us yesterday at the TV Chanel. He has had an economics show at that TV Chanel for over a decade. Anyway he suggested that he can publish an interview with the president of our charity. He knows me from back when I was writing so he said, “Why don’t you interview her and send it to us with a nice photo and we will publish it. “

I agreed and as we were chatting I realized that he was also not very happy.

He told me that it is very good of me to be involved with the less fortunate, and that he wished there were more people like me.

I was flattered.

After we hung up, I realized that part of the reason I feel less effected from the crises happening currently, is not that it does not affect my affairs but because I am involved in multiple things that give different types of joy.

Speaking to him today also made me realize that within the media world, an economics magazine owner or  political analysts are more my cup of tea thus easier to reach for me whereas day time TV shows intended for women is not even something I watch.

I shall try and stick to my world even if I am trying to do good for a cause that interests women mostly. Although, I must admit through the mishap that found us, the laughs I had were priceless…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Real Women vs TV Personas

Recently I wrote about a famous singer named Sıla being beaten by her also famous boyfriend Ahmet Kural. The whole thing became a big discussion point on the media. Most people sided with her although some people also sided with her boyfriend.

In my previous blog entry I mentioned that I was glad that she dealt with it so publicly. 

I am sure that was not easy for her. This is a strong, famous woman who suddenly became a victim. She also had to endure the comments of bigots siding with her boyfriend.

I believe that it is her strength that enabled her to deal with this issue so publicly. 

Her approach did what I hoped it would. This week, on twitter, I saw random women of various backgrounds and ages complaining of the beatings; they or their family members were enduring. 


I was so touched with the reactions. 

One girl in a headscarf wrote the name and last name of her sister’s husband who apparently is a small businessman in good standing in the town they live in. She explains that he beats her sister who is a housewife with no income and children so she cannot leave him. She also explains that her sister cannot come home as her father is no different than the husband. He is also a beater thus agrees with the groom. Her sister’s husband had beaten her as well when she went to pick her and the kids once. 


It sounds terrible but the solidarity of women came through and for that I am thankful to Sıla who rolled the ball. Under the initial tweet of this girl there were so many Direct Message requests from other women that I am sure she felt that she is not helpless. 


Female solidarity is usually not very strong in Turkey. Mostly women treat each other like rivals. I always assumed that the reason behind is that historically we did not have to put up a fight for certain women rights like, voting or being elected the way women did in other countries. 

Ataturk handed these rights to women just like that, so Turkish women were able to vote and be elected long before French or Italian women who had to put up a fight for the right. 

The lack of solidarity has made it easier for women’s rights to be neglected. 

Women standing against women are still an issue in Turkey.

Just yesterday there was a discussion on a pro-government news channel where the guests they chose were a bit odd. One supposed writer/columnist who would have never been considered a TV personality if it was based on merit. She became famous for openly expressing her dislike of Ataturk, she is not educated or anything her whole fame comes from talking negative about the secular system. 

Another guest was a supposed artist (Big question mark). She was famous about 15 years ago for a song that basically said “He is a soldier now, he must be horny”. It was a hit for a minute or so and then everyone forgot about her. So by siding with the man who battered Sıla who is a real artist and a popular singer year after year, she got to appear on TV again. 

How pathetic!

An actor, a lawyer and a female rights activist were the other guests. 

It was a scandalous talk show where the former “singer             “advocated that men can beat women and women should keep silent about it. 

Although this show annoyed a large number of people possibly including Sıla, it does not change the positive effect of what she did. She gave courage to ordinary women, to become louder about the abuse they endure. She became a role model thus gave the message that they do not have to be embarrassed for being victimized. They can speak up about it. It is the abusive men who should be embarrassed, better yet out casted for their behavior. 

The moment they spoke up, the reaction of other women on social media gave me hope. It is the female solidarity that can change things. When women help other women gain shelter, get jobs; keep away from these men while building a life that is how things can change. 


A few years ago there was a catastrophe in Turkey where a coal mine collapsed and the workers in it lost their lives. It was devastating. Everyone was talking about it and blaming the government, blaming this, blaming that…

A friend of mine who is a known philanthropist just went there for support and orchestrated an immediate income opportunity for the grieving widows. 

Yes! Aside from the grief of losing their loved ones, there was the pressing issue of survival.He organized it so that they learned how to make soaps and the soaps they made were sold in chain cosmetic stores. 

It had a slogan that I cannot exactly recall but it expressed the transition of hands with coal to hands with soap. 

Such an inspiring project that it touched me deeply!

How is this relevant? 

When women have an income of their own they are less likely to be cornered into a position where they have to endure abuse. It may still happen of course, abuse is known to happen in all kinds of households with all kinds of educational and economical background. But having an income at least gives them a chance to walk away. Thus, to see someone bring change while everyone was busy expressing anger and complaints was touching. 

The same way now; on TV we hear these people talk nonsense really, nothing that adds to the situation. 

On the contrary an abused woman may have served fruits to her abusive husband last night while they were listening to another woman on TV; advocating to keep quiet when getting beaten by a man because it is his right. 

However social media tells a different story. Real woman are speaking up about what they go through and real women are expressing that they can help out. 

So it’s nice to know that just like my friend who came up with an inspiring, life changing solution for the grieving widows of the deceased mine workers which never became loud news; there are women extending their hands to the abused ones who express themselves. Maybe it is not loud on TV, but it is what counts! 

Sıla’s bold move of going public seems to have been worth the headache they are causing her after all. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Battered Women!

I am about to start a new Sahaja Yoga Class and I find myself a little excited over it. About 6 months ago I gave realization to people at an event. Last week we had another event at the same venue and I did not give realization. I did not think people were interested but to my surprise they asked me about it and appeared disappointed that we did not have it again. 


So I decided to start some classes again. The last class I was having for, 4.5 years was with ladies from completely different socio-cultural strata than the one I live in. It was a different experience. For example, the ladies were unable to learn the mantras no matter how hard I tried. Neither were they able to remember the names of the chakras nor their qualities. 


They understood vibrations though. The essence is not the mental bit but the vibrations. In my experience the simple folk have a better grasp of vibrations maybe because they are not confused with all the mental information. 


Actually I was going to stop the classes a year sooner than I did but the last year that I had them an organization for battered women called ‘Mor Dayanışma’ approached me to have classes for ladies in their group and I agreed of course. 


It was an interesting experience, first of all they were rather dignified about their domestic life and never brought up exactly what was happening at home but their chakras were telling the story. Most of them had their center heart chakra blocked which derives from fear. They also had their agnya chakras and their left nabhi and left vishudi chakras blocked mostly. 


Agnya blockage comes from the inability to forgive. It also derives from resistance. When we cannot accept a situation the resistance activates constant thoughts which block the chakra. The left agnya was also blocked a lot which happens when one feels inadequate or in the past. This is the chakra of conditionings. If our conditionings take us over it gets blocked and we end up feeling inadequate. 


The left nabhi catch happens when we have family and household worries and the left vishudi happens when we feel guilty. 

However the awakening of the Kundalini brings along plenty of miracles and things turn around in the most mysterious ways. Once a person realizes the power of the Kundalini, it is a life changing experience, because nothing can stand against this subtle power and this creates an amazing sense of security. 


The ladies have gained access to this kind of subtle power, what they do with it is up to them. Their choices are either to keep meditating and grow even stronger or stop meditating and let the awakened Kundalini go back to its dormant state. 


One of the techniques of Sahaja Yoga is to raise the Kundalini and give oneself a bhandan. This way one is protected from outside energy through the shield of their own energy and the connection through the Kundalini. When one says this, it may sound like mumbo jumbo, but as I said the ladies who were unable to learn the mantras or the chakras were able to understand vibrations. 

So one of them once said that out of the blue sitting at home she raised her Kundalini and gave herself a bhandan. She explained that as soon as she finished a fight broke out in the house but nobody bothered her. Like she was invisible. 


That is exactly how this power works. 


You don’t have to strive through regular means to resolve a situation, some other form happens naturally. 

Of course even though I have been a yogini for a long time, even I forget the extend of this power sometimes. Two years ago when I went to India I told my Yogini Uncle that my Sahaj luck appeared to not present itself the way it used to, he suggested that I should go to India at least twice a year to regain strength. I have not been able to go in a while so I have been trying to achieve that state here. It’s not the same like India but I can sense the elevation. 


By Sahaj Luck, I actually mean pure attention. When the attention is strong anything you put it on presents itself before you. This happens when the connection with the whole is strong. The word ‘Yoga’ by definition means ‘Union’. So once united with the whole our attention develops the ability to pull and push certain things. 

It does not work as well when one is distracted. So when we meditate a lot, it happens spontaneously. Whatever crosses our heart manifest itself before us with no effort. Like last weekend I was thinking of my American Mommy Ursula and she texted me out of the blue.


While we enjoy our thoughtless state everything falls into place. 


I hope the ladies from my class are keeping at their meditations. 


Women being battered is a serious problem in Turkey. Just yesterday, it was leaked that a famous singer was battered by her boyfriend. She claims that he hit her and as she tried to get away, he dropped her on the floor and hit her head with an ashtray!!!


The same man was famous for his loving gaze at this very woman, so I cannot imagine how things got so out of control that he would attack her like that. I am glad that she is making a big deal out of this and I hope that her strength will inspire other women. 


These men need to be dealt with; I think they are in fact cowards who prey on those that they assume may be weaker. I have only encountered such people in traffic or on the street. I cannot imagine what it must be to be attacked by someone you love.


When I was in junior high, there was this one guy in senior high. He had tried to bully me. At the school bus he threatened to beat me. The bus driver suggested that I tell my parents. 


I was so annoyed; I did not sleep through the night. The next morning when we encountered each other at the stairs, he threatened me again. 


I lost it and jumped all over him. It was a black out moment. I grabbed his tie, as I was choking him I rushed him to the bottom of the stairs from the top while he was backwards. I don’t know what kind of strength came over me. 


Everyone rushed over. He got away from me but I followed him to his class and yelled at him that this is not over. 


I was a student at an old Istanbul type of private college. Of course it became a huge deal at school. First of all he was senior to me in age and plus a guy physically threatening a girl was unacceptable. At the principal’s office I said we can deal with this amongst ourselves. 


I was a very popular student and mostly in trouble for not obeying the uniform or being a smart alec. My worst crime was that I had to make a fashion statement always. Picking a physical fight was way out of character. 

I still don’t know why he assumed that he could bully someone who was so popular. It was obvious that I was not the type who would scare away easy. I was only fourteen and he was only sixteen. 


Anyhow, he had become very polite after that day and I doubt that he bullied anyone else anytime soon. Everyone saw him greeting me kindly the next day and they were saying “Wow, you straightened him out.” 


My male friends were very sweet telling me they would have dealt with him if I had told them. Of course they made entering and leaving school uneasy for him for a while: He felt like he had to look over his shoulder and he deserved it. 

In time he even tried to flirt with me.


At the time my mom was devastated and decided to send me to therapy. 

Looking back I think dealing with this bully ‘wannabe’ in the most public way was not such a bad choice. I did not need therapy which was also the assessment of the therapist. 


Of course what I encountered is nothing compared to what women go through with these aggressive men. However at a very young age I set my stand against bullies and for that I am glad. 


I am pleased that the singer also deals with this man in the most public way. It will inspire other women to be strong. I am a firm believer of avoiding situations of aggression, so I would do everything possible to avoid a fight, however the last two decades Turkey has fallen too much under Arab influence and men have become more and more aggressive. Being a pro-Ataturk secular woman I stand in solidarity with all women being oppressed in anyway by men. Whether it is sharing a Sahaja Yoga Class with battered women or just supporting the stand of a battered strong woman, I try to support this cause as best as I can…


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Just Enjoy

Last week I was feeling a bit off, so I remedied the situation by meditating even more than usual. It felt amazing. I just dropped all thoughts and enjoyed the vibrations. Initially when thoughts were coming I tried to remind myself of my mood in the Himalayas. The total bliss, the ability to get immense satisfaction from a sip of chai or just the fresh air. That light sensation where all I can feel is inner peace and a heightened sense of security is amazing.

The same way, I was thinking of the time that I used to live in an ashram in San Francisco. I was learning so much. It was an interesting phase in my life. Before I moved into the ashram, I had been practicing Sahaja Yoga for a year only but I was already doing a lot of volunteer work. I did enjoy the meditations but I was very skeptical and questioned everything.

When I was with the Sahaja Yogis in Turkey, they asked me if I would translate the videos of Shri Mataji’s speeches. I said of course and ended up not only listening but also really learning what She was talking about, as I was translating the speeches.

I recall long time yogis of Istanbul were telling me, to be like this, like that which goes against my nature. I had always been a little rebellious against authority.

So I told them off by saying; “Listen, I am not going to fake anything, I will not react when I do not feel a reaction anymore but unless and until I’m really there, I won’t pretend to be at a point for the sake of appearances.”


I could not care less what they thought of me, but I liked what I was hearing in the speeches of Shri Mataji that I was translating. It all made sense. She was talking about, joy, love, dignity, sharing, caring for others and the world.

I recall one video that I was watching was about the cool breeze on top of the head, the Kundalini manifesting as a cool breeze. I could feel vibrations on my fingertips but there was no cool breeze on top of my head and I wondered when I would feel it or why I did not feel it. Later, I realized that not many people got to feel it.

Anyhow, Shri Mataji came to Istanbul when I had been a yogini for a year only. Sahaja Yogis from all over the world came to Istanbul for the occasion. It was festive.

I went to the hotel where Shri Mataji was staying since my mom was there and had asked me to bring something.

As I was at the lobby I saw this tall Indian man and the way he looked at me, I was sure he could read my thoughts. I felt a childlike feeling but also a tad uneasy as if my thoughts were exposed. I smiled politely and got into the elevator. Once I was upstairs it was crowded and I was chatting with people. A while later my mom called me into another room to introduce me to a very deep yogi. It was the man that I had seen downstairs.

He immediately said “Ah so this is your daughter.” smiled and gave me a small present. I was a bit shy; little did I know that he would be a father figure for me later on in my life. He was someone that intimidated many yogis with his status and depth. He was very sweet with me though and said “She should live in the ashram when she returns to San Francisco. My good friend Ursula doesn’t not have a child so Banu can be like a daughter to her.” This was my first encounter with my dear Yogiji Uncle whose mere presence makes life a better place.

So my ashram journey was set into motion on that day. I did not realize what a privilege it was, that only yogis at a certain level of depth were accepted into ashram life. I had only been a yogini for a year. So when I moved into the ashram some American yogis were asking me how this is done, how that is done. I would respond to my best abilities, although did not understand why they would ask me, I was a new yogini myself.

Being the bookworm that I was I read all the books in regards to Sahaja Yoga but also the Indian Vedas and such. Ursula soon became my American mommy, we got along really well and I could not get enough of our delightful chats. She helped me grow as a yogini.

There was one auntie called Babette who was Ursula’s best friend and also very sweet. She had this store of Indian pottery and the shop belonged to Shri Mataji. The aim was to sell the pottery that came from the poor areas of India and raise funds for the villagers. Indian standards and American standards are different so Babette was telling that she was having a hard time selling the pottery, so I volunteered to help her until school started.

The store was in Berkeley and it had beautiful vibrations. As I was sitting there it was the first time that I felt the windy cool breeze of vibrations on top of my head, finally! It was such an amazing feeling I loved it. That day I came back to the ashram and told Ursula, “If I could always feel that way I would not need all the other things that one needs to be happy.”

She said that is the very essence of Sahaja Yoga; that is what people should understand. The pure joy makes one need nothing more.

Since then, I have felt that breeze throughout my life and as I was feeling it this weekend, I recalled the ashram phase of my life.

(Ursula and some other yogis enjoying the cakes that we baked with Ursula ❤️)

(My dear Yogi brother Majo playing is live music at the ashram)

(Of course the ashram’s dog Bear chose my room to come into ❤️)

On the first day that I volunteered, as soon as I had come to the store some guy walked in, and as he was holding some pottery, I said “Buy it”

He said “Ok” and made the purchase. Babette was amazed, she retold the story as “she just told him ‘Buy it’ and he did as she said.” From then on we were selling the items. It was for a good cause so I was happy.

This week we had a pop up store event for charity and I had a similar experience. One of the charities that I try to support had a table with inexpensive but cute goods where the aim is to raise funds to battle poverty and waste. Anyhow because I was busy with many tasks I could not sit with them right away and they were a little disappointed that only one item had been sold all day.

So when I had the chance I sat with them and immediately someone came and I told her she should buy something, it is for a good cause. She said Ok and bought something and a few minutes later someone else came and bought multiple items, from then on the ‘sitting with no sale’ situation had ended even if it was not much things were moving, joy and laughs had arrived.

After having remembered my ashram times over the weekend, having a similar experience while trying help someone who is selling items for a good cause was sweet.

Going back to my ashram story, once I knew everyone very well, I asked them “Why do people ask me about the depths of Sahaja Yoga? I am a new yogini myself.”

Babette smiled brightly and said “because you were sent by Yogi Mahajan, we figured you must be really special.” I laughed and said “No, I am not, it’s just me” so we all laughed.

However, just like he would let his daughter work on him in India, I was the only person that he would allow to work on him vibrationaly when he came to the ashram in San Francisco even though other yogis were eager to work on him, he would say “No, no call her.” and I would come down from my room, that meant something to the yogis.


(My Dear Yogiji Uncle)

I was very lucky to be around all these deep yogis who were helping me understand things.

I learned how to fight negative situations, feelings but I also learned that sometimes we have to witness and accept. What I learned, came in very handy at later stages of my life.

I recall one occasion where I was having an unpleasant business conversation with someone and I was accompanied by one of our employees. The man’s attitude was a little insulting and our employee wanted to punch him for the way he was talking to me.

I just made a hand gesture as in “calm down.” I talked to the idiot whose face I would not recognize if I saw him on the street right now and I walked out of there rather calm and unaffected. The issue was resolved.

Our employee was angry and said “why would you not let me punch him?” I told him “For what? He is a miserable human being who passes through my life for a moment which is over now, whereas he has to live with himself and his nasty personality all his life, while I go back to my jolly life. That is worse than any punch. Just let it go.” 

This relaxed him too.

There it was. A situation where I did not react because I was not affected, not because yogis are meant to act like this or that as I was suggested by this lady when I initially started Sahaja Yoga, but because I did not feel a reaction.

Ironically, a couple years later when I was in Istanbul, we were in a situation with the same lady who was telling me not to react etc when I first started Sahaja Yoga.

A thief had walked into the Sahaja Yoga center in Nişantaşı (one of the nicer areas of town) which is open to everyone and stole our purses. She was yelling all over the place. “Oh my God! How could this happen?”  The minute her purse was stolen she questioned the whole Sahaja Yoga philosophy.

I was calm and gave realization to the police at the station where we filed a report because I assumed that someone should be needing our positive vibrations which must be why we ended up there.

My purse was returned to me in full the next day except for my phone and cash. Getting back the purse itself, contents of my makeup bag and my sunglasses pleased me a lot. The only missing precious item was my mantra book and when I told the police it had sentimental value for me, they found it and told me where to pick it up the next day.

The lady who lost all her faith in everything positive as soon as her purse was gone is a good example for why we have to become what we believe in, instead of pretending. 


Of course, I still feel reactions sometimes and I am still true to myself, sometimes even a drama queen but I have always felt very calm in the face of real crises and for that I have to thank my Sahaja Yoga practice.

After having a bit of an off week last week, my weekend of a lot of meditation has resulted in a positive week. Interestingly on the weekend, Ursula my American mommy to whom I had not spoken in almost a year sent me a text asking me how I am and telling me that she sent me bhandans (positive vibrations). So to this day we are connected on a spiritual level and she will sense me all the way from San Francisco even if we have not spoken in so long.

Also a girl to whom I have been giving Sahaja Yoga lessons called me today and told me that she had continued her meditations at home and felt certain chakras and wants to continue our classes, which pleased me. The fact that she meditates at home shows progress.

Some other people want to mediate with me as well, so I may start some group classes soon. Last week I was annoyed with one of my charities over the fact that they disregarded grammatical errors on printed material which I was pointing out. This week I saw that they corrected it. That pleased me too.

So I focused on my mediations and my ability to feel bliss and the little annoyances that I had the week before, worked themselves out just like that and this turned out to be a joyful week.

All order was restored while I was merely meditating and that is how we let go and just let the universe take over. It also works with things that we find bigger…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

 Venus Retro!

We were meeting for tea that day. I had just come out of my dentist and I was going back in an hour. She kept asking me why don’t you go to him, he is also a dentist. I tried to evade the question but she was persistent. 


She said,“He is my mom’s dentist; he is really good why don’t you go to him?”


I took a sip from my tea and told her, 


“He is my ex, so I don’t want to go to him.”


She was surprised, and said ”Really?”


She kept grilling me on why I broke up with him. So I told her it was not working, we had tried to be together on and off for 15 years eventually he had this idea that we should be married but it was just not working.


She was not satisfied with this answer and kept grilling me. 


“What is wrong with him?”


My ex is a very good looking man but also very humble in his demeanor and very polite which attracted me to him in the first place.

I recall when we were first seeing each other my step dad saw him for a moment from afar and told me afterwards “Wow! That is some good looking guy.” My girlfriends would react in similar ways. He however would act completely unaware of himself. 


He is a good person at heart so I was not going to bad mouth him, we were, actually still are on amicable terms. It just was not working. I had realized that I could not see myself spending the rest of my life with him, so I walked away. 


She then told me that she had a date set up with him the next day or something. He was going to take her to Su Ada etc. 

Low blow, not to tell me right away but I did not mind. I encouraged her. She told me that her mom admired him, thus set up this date. 


So she insisted again, what was wrong with him. 


I had a flashback of a day that he was at his practice and I had spent the day with his mom and aunts and cousins, all the ladies of his family calling me the bride. His Mom said “I could tell you were in his life from his joy. Whenever you are around he smiles a lot, you make him cheerful.” I was flattered but in the long run he was making me not smile anymore. 

 I did not go into details so much instead I told her, she and I  are completely different people  so just because it had not worked out for me does not mean they will not work out. Plus he is a great guy, she should go and enjoy. 


She asked me for tips.




I said “Just be yourself.” This is my advice for any and every occasion.


Anyway shortly after this conversation she deleted me from facebook and suddenly stopped being my friend. 


Over a date? with my ex, despite of the fact I acted really cool about it. 


A few months went by I had completely forgotten about this occasion and my ex called me as he would from time to time. He insisted on visiting me. I said OK. He said he missed me and wanted to get back with me. I told him that the “on and off phase” is over. 

 I said “We cannot do this anymore. You are my friend now; from now on all you can be to me is like a brother.” 


He laughed, “Come again?” was his response. 


I told him, that I was way too sentimental for him; he should be with a Russian girl or something. He was a little offended but I argued my point. 


I had completely forgotten about my girlfriend so it never occurred to me to ask about her. It appeared that she had stopped being my friend over one dinner date with someone who will always care for me and respect me. 


Anyhow, a while after the visit of my ex, one of our common friends was getting married and I went to the wedding with a friend who always used to accompany me anywhere when I am not seeing anyone. At the table, it was me, my friend, a Russian girl and my Ex:)))


So he did take my advice after all!  


Of course the friend who was accompanying me and my ex knew each other from back when we were together, so they were having good laughs and jokes. Next to me were an actor and his wife. 


Anyhow my ex kept asking me to take a photo of him and his Russian date. I took one photo; he kept asking me to take another one and another one, which I did. 


After a while I said, “why me? Let someone else take the photos. “


The actor said you should take the photo so I whispered “He is my ex.”


I was hoping that this would make him take the photos. He got a kick out of it and laughed and insisted that I should take another photo and my friend that I came with joined them too.


 I don’t know what kind of weird men code that was but while they were teasing me and enjoying, I did not get mad but I decided to stop it because I thought it was also disrespectful to the girl he came with, so I said “You are my ex, can we have some distance?” I said it laughing and in a joyful manner. 


There he had his golden come back.


“Why Banu, we are like brother and sister right?” 




Of course he had to rub it in my face😀


After a while I went dancing and simply let him be. It was a delightful night full of joy. Naturally he came dancing as well and simply ditched the Russian girl all by herself. 


Not cool, so I went to cheer her up a little, being the joy of the party that I was. She smiled. 


(Me and my good friend, and some other friends at the wedding)

Anyhow why did I suddenly remember all this? The girl who stopped being my friend over a date with my ex was the girl that I had bumped into this week at a function and she questioned why I was nice to her as I kept giving her things out of my purse to comfort her. 


A few years had gone by and once we reconnected I enjoyed her company again. I had completely forgotten that she stopped being my friend over a date with my ex. She probably did not forget it.


When we reconnected she introduced me to her father who is a doctor because I am the distributor of a cancer test. Nothing came out of it but her introduction of me to her father was so sweet that it touched me. 


She introduced me portraying me as this amazing person. 


I had no idea that she had such a positive opinion of me. I thought it was very sweet of her. 


Like I said, nothing came out of that meeting but we started hanging out more and the past occasions never crossed my mind. A lot of women would remember a girlfriend stopping to be their friend in pursuit of their ex love. 

I like it that I get to be the person who can completely forget about such things, until some odd behavior reminded me. 


Does it matter? Not at all, but it is an interesting memory to share….



I wrote a blog on my birthday and I cannot stop ever since, it’s weird. 

They say the planet Venus is in retro. That is my planet, maybe that is why memories keep coming…

Also, I guess I missed writing. I miss filming too…



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized