Bye bye, baby

A couple of days ago, Kaya woke early, at about 6. I had things to do, so I carried him on my back in the baby carrier while I did some chores and got breakfast together. He fell back asleep, lulled by the constant movement and by being so close (he’s going through a clingy phase lately). I put him back down on the bed and he slept until close to 9, which is probably unprecedented.
Baki woke at around 8, rubbing his eyes, and my mom came up the hill shortly afterwards. She couldn’t believe how quiet it was – she had even heard the sound her phone makes when she took a photo on her way up. “Kaya must be the noisy one,” she said.
Today, we all got in the car and took my mom and Baki to the airport; Baki is going to day camp in New York for a month, and he’s staying with Grandma. We had to get up early to make it on time, but the boys were still thrilled to be at the airport – all of those big, flat spaces just call out to them, “Run amok on our smooth even surfaces!” Luckily, they also found time for staying still.

It wasn’t long before it was time to go and Ali, Kaya and I stood at the bottom of the escalator watching them go up. Ali and I smiled widely and waved, even as we silently wondered what on earth we were thinking. And Kaya called out to Baki, disliking the fact that he was not following him, as he so enjoys.

We came straight back to the garden and busied ourselves with watering, playing with Kaya, and all the usual daily business. But I kept stopping and noticing how very quiet it was. Kaya, although he spent a fair amount of time calling for Baki today, is not the noisy one at all. It’s the combination of the two of them, like baking soda and vinegar, that creates their wild froth of laughter, bargaining, bickering and wailing.
Happy trails, Baki – we miss you!

A Pause

With the situation in Istanbul worsening by the day*, I thought it might be time for a pause for breath. Here is a little scene from the garden the other day:


We got in a tractor load of manure from Senol, the dairy farmer that we buy milk from. Kaya and Lulu were on hand to watch. Just an ordinary moment in an ordinary day, but it is hard to forget that things are not so peaceful elsewhere. Then again, I suppose this is true on most days on this Earth.

*There was an interesting commentary on the Gezi Park protests in the New York Times yesterday that is worth a look. Anyone following the situation will know that things have gotten increasingly tense and the police are coming down very hard on protesters and anyone who comes to their aid. Two of the major labor unions have called for a strike and march on Taksim today.



Istanbul Rising

Dear Dad,
In Gezi Park, just a five minute walk from your old house in Cihangir, something incredible is happening. It’s been occupied by peaceful protesters who gathered there to prevent the park being bulldozed to build a shopping mall. There is a tent city there now, and the park is festooned with posters, art, and graffiti expressing a full spectrum of ideas. The protestors are standing up for their right to express these ideas, remaining steadfast in the face of intimidation and attack. And I mean real attacks, with tear gas and water cannons (and I know you’ve seen what the police can do with a baton).
That this nucleus of peace can remain in spite of it all has made these protests into a beacon of hope. Suddenly, it seems, there is a vision to carry us into the future. It is an idea that dares to look beyond economic growth and grasps for something deeper for us all. And most of all it is the protestors’ integrity – that alignment between belief and action – that is so hard to ignore. The actions of all those who are taking a stand has rippled through the country and has given rise to urgent conversations – over the phone, over coffee, late at night while kids sleep, or in sporadic bursts on the internet.
It makes me wish I could go to your house in Cihangir, and find you on the top floor in your creaky rocking chair. I’d flop out on the sofa and stare at the carpets hanging on the ceiling while we talked about all that is going on while the chair popped and creaked.
The energy and creativity that has come out of all this is so exhilarating that it is unbearable to think of the protests being crushed, of these brave voices being silenced. So we gather what news we can and hope that the protestors will stay safe. I stay up late after the boys have fallen asleep and try to make out what is happening in the square.
Last night, there was a piano in Taksim, I read, and protesters sang songs together. Tonight I read that a group of mothers joined hands to make a protective chain between protestors and the police after PM Erdogan urged parents to bring their children home from the square so they would be safe.
It is hard to know how things will turn out, but I have no doubt that the mark of Occupy Gezi is indelible. The boys will ask me about it one day, I am sure – this feels like a defining moment. I wish you were here to share it.