I am writing from my temporary desk in the offices of the Turkish Daily News with a gray view of the concrete wasteland that is Istanbul. It is Sunday. There is something very unnatural about being at work on Sunday, especially since my bus to get to work leaves at 830 AM and no one else gets to work until 11 AM. So here I am, faced with this dismal landscape and I am succumbing to the power of the iPod, who is saving my life daily.
During my UN days I had the most beautiful bus ride from Thoiry, perched in the Jura Mountains, into Geneva. The scenery was spectacular, that magic green of Fairies and Rain, the clean Swiss smell of no pollution. I would rarely even read on those bus rides, they were so beautiful. And I am glad I enjoyed each ride to the fullest because now, faced with the bleak urbane jungle of concrete and glass, music is the only thing that will keep me from falling into a depression as gray as the land that surrounds me. This is not a nice place. It is the Middle East’s Los Angeles in the way that Dubai is the Middle East’s Las Vegas. They say they hate American this and that. Yeah right. Then why do they model their cities after American cities? And not just any American cities, but the cities that seem to epitomize western ideals of capitalism, commercialism and greed. It is a mystery.
Aside from the surreality of my new newspapergal life, I found out this week that my friend Uma is in the hospital after suffering a brain aneurysm. She is still in a coma and I have been praying, praying, praying since I heard. I got an email today that she has been sort of dancing in her bed, which is a great sign and I pray it means that when she wakes up there will be minimal damage to her body and spirit. Please say some prayers for her, that the swelling in her brain will be relieved and that the blood will drain out of her head.
It is surreal to be writing this blog knowing that Uma is lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to a ventilator like on ER. Fuck. It really puts things in perspective, so it does.
The other thing that is giving me perspective are my new Turkish journalist colleagues. They don’t have the same standards of good writing as we do in the West, but what they lack in good writing they make up for in sheer courage. Just two weeks ago a prominent Armenian-Turkish journalist was murdered in broad daylight for his writings about the Turkish genocide of the Armenians, which most Turks do not admit happened. Journalism is dangerous here and they risk their lives for words. When I start to get frustrated with the poor quality of the writings, I think about that, and I remember that even though I will fix up their article to near perfection, in the end they will take whatever heat is coming for the article’s content. Not me. This is a huge shift in my thinking that, in surfing the publishing world, has been brainwashed to think the mode of telling is as vital as what needs to be said. If you need to choose one or the other, a strong message is better than a perfectly crafted story any day.
So, yeah. Here I am. Here I will stay. Oh, and so far doing great with my resolution to not get involved with work drama or anyone’s drama. Perspective. It is all about perspective.