Sunday, June 27, 2010


At night, the relative silence of the city is broken by the sound of dueling ezan – the prayer announcements from the loudspeakers of the local mosques. I like them. The speakers give a little crackle and the muezzin gives their most beautiful call, trying to stand out from the others. I tried to look at a mosque during prayer yesterday, but the doorman gave me stinkeye because I looked like such a tourist.

The first sound of the morning is hammering. Downstairs there is a recycler who breaks up old appliances with a hammer to get the metal. He does his work out on the sidewalk. We’re away from the main street, so our street doesn’t see too many cars. There are a lot of voices and kids playing outside. The number of people goes up until at night, streets are filled with men, women, and children wandering around. Anytime you need something from the store, just call to one of them and throw some money down and they will get it for you. Little convenience stores are everywhere, along with bread shops and internet cafes, and an assortment of other types of businesses, including restaurants and “secret” shops that sell pirated DVDs.

The money isn’t as much of a problem as it was eight years ago, the last time I was here. The old Turkish currency was counted in millions and tens of millions for purchasing small items. That was just too much for anyone to get their head around, which was probably good for rip-off artists. Now the money is easy; 1.60 TL is equal to about a dollar. For convenience’s sake, I think of 1TL as a dollar.

Today, starting in the morning until late at night, their was rhythmic hammering, like steel on concrete. I don't know what they were doing for 8 - 10 hours, but it sounded like they pounded down every last wall.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

6/22/10 - Some kind of hard medicine

The nagging urge that had been bothering me for years, the urge to get on a plane and jump off the face of the earth since leaving Japan, suddenly disappeared the minute I passed throught the first security gates at Detroit Metro. It's exciting and frightening. No going back. Buy the ticket, take the ride. Afterall, I asked for this.

The energy in the terminal is distinctly different from anywhere else. Without a suitcase, anyone in this crowd looks like they could be in a shopping mall except for one key difference: Everyone here feels a purpose. It is the overly casual, bored faces that stand out.

Detroit to Amsterdam

A restless time in a cramped airplane seat - aching, itching, and squirming for eight or nine hours in a flying cattle car. I'm a zombie.

Pure fatigue keeps the nerves dull enough to kill any anxiety I might have had about the trip - sitting in the terminal I feel too fogged over to properly understand where I am.

I'm reading American Shaolin, by Matthew Polly, a perfect fish-out-of-water story that is particularly good to read while traveling.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Packed and Ready

There's not a lot left to do - just a couple of fussy details to take care of so there won't be any problems with checking in at the airport or getting through security.

Once I arrive in Turkey there'll be a couple of bureaucratic hoops to jump through before I can start working, and we need to figure out once and for all what Nilu is going to do about her school.


None right now. Dogs know instinctively when they're about to go to the vet, but most of my head is too thick to process the fact that I'm going somewhere for a long time. The ticket, the passport, these bags, and people hugging me to say goodbye should be enough to help me realize that I've already spent my last night here in Michigan, but it still feels very unreal. Twelve hours from now, I'll be in the air. In less than 36 hours I'll be in the heart of one of the world's biggest cities, jetlagged and disoriented.