Christmas in “Istanbul. Memories and the city”

Reading a novel in a quiet flat under a gloomy sky, in a room transformed into an imaginary Yoga retreat centre as soon as our flat-mates left to their families outside Copenhagen, may not appear as the most exciting way to spend Christmas day.

But reading “Istanbul. Memories and the city” in the dim light of a lampImage are like instant teleportation to Istanbul, wondering around its cobblestone narrow streets through the soul of a young man. The way Istanbul and the author’s memories are described felt so real to me that I may say I spent Christmas with Dayyuman, and a few other familiar figures: with Pamuk, Pamuk’s brother, worrying for his mother spending her evenings alone in the sitting room, blaming the father for all the mistresses he had, taking part in family arguments, loving the love for Black Rose, loving the joy of painting, getting lost in Istanbul’s poor neighbourhoods and savouring every single memory and history related to this city.

My dear family back home should be aware: really, this Christmas I was not just in Denmark. I was away with another family in a far far away land which I incurably fell for.

People in Grand Place/Grote Markt in Brussels

There are people kissing. And people making small talk: about pommes frites and Belgium Chocolate, about gauffres and the various types of Belgium beer.

There are people playing: playing with a ball, playing with words, playing with people’s feelings or simply with their postures while taking photos. A kid is screaming out: MAMA, MAMAAAAAAAA.

Some are holding hands. Some wished they were holding somebody’s hand, I assume.

A few people are trying to sell their flowers to couples. But nobody buys flowers for their beloved nowadays.

Some guys walk careless in groups. They look happy. Some are lonely  hearts. But they look happy too to me. Maybe I am happy and see happiness every where.

Some girls are obviously talking pictures to nourish their Facebook profiles with some “Brussels Albums”. Some must be taking mental pictures: they stay still in front of the beauty of the buildings, maybe trying to encapsulate the moment in their souls.

Some speak French. Some speak Flemish. Some speak loudly. Some don’t speak at all. Well, somebody has to listen… Only a few speak body language.

A guy with a trolley passes by dragging an apparently light luggage making a lot of noise on the irregular pavement. It seems he reminds all the people in the square that nothing is forever: it comes a moment in life when you have to pack light and go. And sometimes the pavement is quiet at your departure.

Metamorphosis

You wake up in a morning and you do not have the human body you had been wearing for years, but you transformed overnight into a monstrous insect. What do you do about that, how do you react?

Metamorphosis tells the story of Gregor Samsa, who went to bed as a young man and woke up as a young insect with a curved brown belly, divided by stiff arching ribs. “His numerous legs, which were pathetically thin compared with the rest of his bulk, danced helplessly before his eyes.” Of course, the first question that could come to your mind in such a miserable situation is “What has happened to me?”. And Gregor ask himself this question. Once. Jut once. Without even bothering to answer. And then immediately starts to adapt to his new body without questioning what had happened to him, why, what is the sense of this strange metamorphosis…

I revoltingly read each page searching for an explanation. I want to read Gregor’s reflection about his metamorphism, I need to see his struggle in finding out what life has treated him this way and what could he possible learn out of this experience. I go through his life story, working restlessly for supporting his family, waking up early in the morning, bearing an unbearable boss, giving up to himself for a life dedicated to earning the necessary money for the family’s daily expenses. As a reward for everything Gregor has done for his family, his sister, his mother and his father will clean and feed Gregor, the insect, for a while. Finally they decide it is too much trouble having him in their house – now taken care by other financial means – and they are about to throw out the ex-son, the ex-brother as you normally get rid of any insect in your house.

Where is the reflection about yourself, Gregor? About the life you carry, about your existence and the sense of all the rat race you choose? Where is the search of the meaning of the metamorphosis? It’s as dead as an old stiff bug swept by a heavy broom in the basement. And we die slowly without it as well.

If I

If I had been born somewhere else than Scornicesti during the Communism…

If I had grown up with somebody else than my grandmother…

If I hadn’t had a brother…If

If I hadn’t gone to kindergarten with older children just to be near my brother…

If I hadn’t had hepatitis…

If I hadn’t had a crush on the most popular boy in school when I was 13…

If I hadn’t gone to RM. Valcea for studying and living with my aunt, my uncle and my two cousins…

If I had been in a humanistic class rather than in an intensive maths class…

If I had gone to high-school somewhere else than Pitesti…

If I had study something else than Communication and Public Relations at university…

If I hadn’t been left for another girl…

If I hadn’t worked in PR and advertising for more than 3 years…

If I hadn’t had the courage to leave a job when I felt perverted by my work…

If I hadn’t apply to an Erasmus Mundus scholarship in Copenhagen and meet all the people in here…

If my uncle hadn’t died all of a sudden without saying good bye to anyone, and thus putting into question each one’s meaning of life …

If I hadn’t gone to the funeral 2.000 km away, to get used to the idea he is not around anymore…

If I hadn’t came back to Copenhagen, feeling like a bird moved out of its nest…

If I had seen my MA LLL colleagues differently…

If I hadn’t been able to listen and change my mind when I saw your point…

If I hadn’t loved my family and my friends so much…

If I hadn’t had this need for private space…

Then I wouldn’t have been the person I am today.  I am two selfs in one:  I am my past. And I am my emerging future. I am.

The time when love has gone

You wake up one morning and you find out your beloved is not in love with you anymore.  You wish you had the argument to say is not fair.  But you don’t.  Because you know that love comes and goes quietly whenever it wants. You are grateful that it was around for a while anyway.  Just like in a swan song, all the good memories come into your mind: walking around narrow streets late in the night, cooking together, having chocolate cake and tomatoes soup at La Chocolat, long talks about the most beautiful nonsenses in the world, departures and returns, writing stories, reading stories,  sharing our stories.  You take a bow and thank your beloved for all the beauties and all the joys he has brought into this relationship.  Then you have to go. Because it is the time. The time when love has gone.

 

When do you miss home most?

When do you miss home?

It might be on Christmas because everybody should be back home with his/her family.

It might be when you feel sick because nobody is there to take care of you, or tell you a good word, or give you a big hug and a spark of optimism. Then, you miss mum a lot and all the homies that have made illnesses bearable so far.

It might be when you walk or ride and nobody around you speaks your language. Add to all this the frustration that you are another person in the foreign language that you speak so you can get the full dimension of being far from home.

But number one situation of this top, the moment when I miss home the most is when I take out my clothes out of the dryer. It is not the same smell no matter what softener I get. Every time I open the door of the dryer I feel pity for all the pressed clothes forced to stay in the dark round box for hours in order to get dry. And I remember how it feels to hang the clothes outside in the sun, to see them blowing easily in the wind, spreading their fresh homey perfume. And this is when I miss home the most.