Sunday, December 22, 2013

Journey to the East

Today I decided to revive this blog. In case our readers needed more inspirational stories from people experiencing different cultures, countries and way of living, I will today introduce you the article of Sabiha Kapetanović, a member of AEGEE- Izmir. Originally Bosnian, this young girl has decided to move to Turkey, and made us lucky enough to share her inspiring stories with us. Also, she likes to interview people with experiences just as intereting as hers. Today's post has the title: Journey to the East and is the interview with Vahid., who has got his own blog.

Who we are? Where do we come from? Are we all from the same sinners Adam and Eva? What and who made those invisible borders between us? Why do we hate each others, and why do we love each others? What kind of pasion and desire is living in humans that is making them so inexplicable? Questions that I am asking myself every day. Because I can't understand why we are constantly lifting walls around ourselves.

I have luck that all of my friends are specific persons, with all their beauties. And here I want to share with you unusual memoirs of my friend, Vahid, who visited East of Turkey, place known as not so peaceful nor democratic.

Firstly who is Vahid? J

Vahid's story starts 03.08.1988.when he was born in Novi Pazar, city which is now part of Serbia. As he said he grew up in a religious spirit, where he was thought to be tolerant and to show respect to everyone, with no difference. As Vahid said if he hadn't grown up in multicultural area, as Balkan, probably he wouldn't have been the same person as he is today.

After finished high school, he ran away from home, to other, different world, that he didn't know that exist, Turkey. Living away from home, on the beginning wasn't so easy, but by time, you realize you won more than you lost. Turkey has awakened in Vahid the hunger and desire for knowledge.

 - I got chance to meet with people that were part of nations I didn't know that even exist, hear languages I never heared before, eat food I never ate before. And all of it had it's magic. We have saying „If you want secure future, you have to know your own history“, and there, in Turkey, I realized that my history, is our, human history.

I visited many cities of Turkey, but I couldn't leave Turkey without visiting the East. Where civilization was born. Through school all stories that I heared seemed unreal, and now I was there with chance to discover reality. I wanted to see, feel, and discover secrets of mysterious East.-

And there Vahid's interesting journey starts, here you have opportunity to read some of Vahid's amazing experiences from the East.

My trip started in Diyarbakir, which is capital city of non-existent state of Kurdish nation. Through the city is passing famous river Eufrat, which was main orientation many times through history. From airport I entered in bus which was going to the center of city, and on my big surprise  driver of that bus was a woman.
I have to mention that before I will start my trip, as I am just human under different  influences, I heared a lot of negative things about this part of Turkey, but my stay here proved the opposite of it. Truth is that incidents are happening, but like on every other place. And disagreements between Turkish and Kurdish people is old story, but it doesn't mean that you don't have those who are getting good along, as I could see it. My first impression was, normal, I didn't see nor feel anything from media's stories interpretations.
I took walk down the streets, and I reached Safa (Parli) Mosque. It was built in 16. century. Unusual thing about this mosque is, while they were building it, they mixed mortar with different nice flavours, so mosque could always smell nice. I talked with Imam of mosque and he told me that in center of city live around 800 000 of people, together with 4 more municipalities that are part of Diyerbekir it has  1. 600 000 people. Most of population are Kurds with minorities of Turks and Zaze.
Who are Zaze? I never heared of them.
Took from Internet: The Zazas, Kird, Kirmanc or Dimilis are an Iranian people whose native language is Zazaki, spoken in eastern Anatolia. They primarily live in the eastern Anatolian provinces. Almost all speakers of the Zaza language consider themselves as Kurds. Name Zaza is mentioned in Bible too, where it means – abundance-.
After Safa I visited Ulu Mosque, which is 5th the most important mosque in Muslim world, it was used for spreding Islam. Firstly it was church before Arabs invided Diyerbekir, it is the oldest mosque in Anadolia. Style of architecture of this mosque was taken from Umayyad mosque from Damascus which is particularly important for both,Muslims and Christians. Because there is story that in that place when Judgment Day comes, Jesus/ Isa a.s.will appear.
In my long walk I met an old man Catin Yilmaz, Protestant, who is living in Diyerbekir for 35y. He was very nice and polite man. Together with him I went to visit Protestan church which is built before 12 years. In church I met few people, we had nice talk, they were interested and surprised; who am I, how did I come ect. One of questions was; did anyone paid my trip, as I said no, they gave me 50TL, to have it, you never know.
This act reminded me when I was kid, when guests would come to visit, they would always bring some presents for kids, or leave us some money. Those acts would made us infinitely happy.
So my next step was with kids that I met in one old Mahallesi- neighborhood. They reminded me on my childhood. I couldn't believe that I am seeing kids in this century playing outside with each others, and playing Klikera- taws-. As today, we from the west know only for computer, playstation, GTA, PES ect.
With my, already mentioned 50 TL, I bought bag full of sweets, and went there to share with them. On the beginning they looked scared. Despite of it they realised I am not joking, sweets were for them, they were smiling, laughing, you could feel warmness coming from them. For me that honest happiness was enough. With that they conquered me, and I conquered the world.

In my visit to Mardin, one night I got atraccted by sounds of music that I could hear from my motel. I went out to investigate the bar. Music that I heared there was the most interesting music that I heared lately. It was rock’n’roll, but hell of rock'n'roll.
In Mardin you can find few nation, like Arabs, Kurds, Turks, so music was combination of all of their languages. And they were sitting there together, playing it together. It is kind of funny when I think of it, I never thought to look on you tube for some arap or kurd rock song...  So many prejudices around us... I asked guitar player could I play something, with a simle on his face he gave me his guitar. And there I was, in Arap-Kurdis-Turkish bar playing guitar. I played 2 songs, one on Bosnian, one on English.
What experience! When I think of all places and people that I met, it seems like I am dreaming. I am trying to put everything on paper, on photograph, but it is impossible. There will be some places and people that will only stay in my memory, never  told.
After I played, whole bar knew where I am coming from, and they greeted me with loud applause.
Next moment I was on place where you could hear silence, there was no people nor housewarming, nothing.
Stop! Who came from the West to ruin my silence?! Who are you?!
East! I came to teach me peace!
You came to ruin my silence!
East! I came to teach me peace!
So, there I was, sitting with East. I was observing beauty of East, and I let East to teach me peace. On the moment I felt how I am part of West, but part of the East too. Then I felt how Earth is round, and Space whole too.
I attended the service of the Syrian Orthodox Church
Took  from the internet:
The old Syrian Orthodox Church is known also as Jacobite church. After the persecution of Antioch (Arabs conquered Antioch 638 yrs.), Church relocates its headquarters in Mardin (Turkey today), then in Homs (Syria), and the 1959th in Damascus. Syrian Monophysites serve the Liturgy of St. James in Syria. The seat of the Church is in Damascus.
The service was in Arabic, Syriac. One act of prayer particularly attracted mine attention. Hands in the air, on the way the Muslims do it too. They were repeating the prayer in itself. Service was attended by about 60 people.
In this area you will see one of the earliest collision three largest monotheistic religion. Big part of those places of worship and important historical sites are preserved. People still use them for the service, and for adoration to the Only One.
While I was leaving  Mardin, behind me childerns were running and waving me. I knew, I passed exam.
People here are different from those in Diyarbakir. Culture is different. More covered women. 90% of old people wearing Traditional Indian trousers and red, black or other Palestinian scarf around their  heads. You couldn't see that in Diyarbakir, because of it Diyarbakir is more modern city than Urfa.
I went to  Balikli Gol (Fish lake). There you can find old bazaar and  fortress, the place is a tourist attraction. Beauty is in old inns, old mosques, Fish lake, and little cave where Ibrahim a.s./ Abraham was born.

In the end of conversation with Vahid he said next for Turkey: „Turkey is one very colorful country, where many civilizations begun, through which many passed. A country rich by it's culture, religions, traditions, languages, food, literature, music, art in general. Sometime I think that Turkish people don't realize how rich country they have.
Turkish nation is very hospitable and polite,  and I have high respect for them, their county and culture, they thought me many things. However they are not really ready to talk about history, and historical facts. They are scared to admitt, and see beauty of their multiculturality. They are scared that on that way they will destroy their country, Turkey.
And my memoires, I can't describe you my happiness. It was first fairy tale I was part of. There are so many things I couldn't put in paper. But those I put are try to describe beauty of East. I hope you could at least partly see it, and enjoy in it.“

In my hope that I am giving you other point of view, that you can't get easily, I enjoy in sharing, retelling and writing this kind of stories. Natural, realistic stories,  stories without manipulation, stories about people, that are coming from people, and being voice of people.

Vahid Hodzic

Sabiha Kapetanović

Follow Vahid's blog in Bosnian language for more inspirational stories and breathtaking photos