Monday, April 15, 2019

Turkish Delights


Hard to imagine a more beautiful day. Finished my two and a half day Orff Course and by inner criteria—my sense of the enthusiastic energy in the room, a steady stream of smiles, laughter and beautiful music, the thoughtful questions— it was an unqualified success. Then the outer criteria—the number of photos taken of me with each person (at their request) and some many times over. Then, of course, the tears after the final song and sincere goodbye hugs. That such affirmation has become the norm in this work is tribute to the work itself, the hunger of the participants and their capacity to recognize and appreciate delicious and nutritious food and my unwavering commitment to do this as well as I can. Hooray for it all.

Then whisked off by ex-Intern Didem, her lovely husband and baby to be a tourist around the Galata Tower and then go to a Sufi house to witness the whirling dervishes. A first for me to see this live and it was simply stunning to see the swirling white skirts while some 10 men kept spinning and spinning, like children out in a field of wildflowers under a blue sky, finding some still center that connected them to the gravitational center of their own Spirit. Accompanied by the lovely ney flute, drum, singing and kanun string instrument. My only complaint was that Didem was not allowed in with her baby, the hosts afraid a baby’s cry would disturb the men’s concentration. Well, okay, people don’t bring babies into the Zen Center, but I couldn’t help but think of the Ghanaian trance ceremonies I witnessed and how children and babies of all ages were always present. How else to absorb the vibrations of the presence of Spirit?

From there, a pre-dinner dessert of Turkish delight, pistachio rolls, the ever-present tea and halvah, a food strangely from my childhood that I haven’t eaten in a long time. And where did my mother buy it and why? Funny to find some comfort food in Istanbul.

Farewell to this lovely family and met up with some folks from the Orff course at a restaurant with roving musicians. Five young guys with two violins, dumbek drum, tambourine and the dulcimer-like kanun made their way to our table and led off with a song I actually knew—Uskudara! I pulled out my sopranino recorder and played along (in a mercifully-friendly key) and thus began an hour of jamming with spoons, recorder, body percussion and eventually, dancing. Including two boys who sang a duet and did some flossing (dancing) to Turkish music. Each musician with virtuosic skills wedded to great spirit and energy and wasn’t that a fine way to end my time here? Crawled into bed at 1 am, happy and content and ready to wake up and pack for the last leg of this most marvelous 4 weeks of travel and teaching. Old friendships renewed, new Facebook friends, little breakthroughs in my teaching, connections with landscapes and culture and food and my own solitude. 

And now boarding the plane for the first of three long flights. Onward!

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