East Meets West

Saturday, March 24, 2007


A great thing about Istanbul is despite the fact that there are over 20 million people living here, you don't have to go very far to find nature.

And now that spring has sprung, it's completely in my face. Not that there has been a lack - the winter was so warm that my plants just took a disco nap instead of hibernating! But now that March is here, Mother Nature is putting on a spectacular that can only be compared with Carnival in Rio:

Blossoms are exploding on trees. As I watch the skyscrapers pass by on the way to work, my attention gets pulled to trees I hadn't noticed before that have turned fluffy pinks, yellows and white.

Cats were just fighting during the warm winter. Now the screeches have turned to purring as felines everywhere have taken to courting and many a swollen belly can be seen waddling around our neighborhood. Soon the place will be 'litter'ally crawling with kittens!

Besides a great view of a construction site outside my window there are birds that visit me throughout the day. (I'd like to think they're visiting me - they're probably just checking out their reflection in the window!). They've been busy this week hauling twigs, cotton and pieces of paper to the floor above us where they are building a nest and there soon will be baby birds chirping away. This guy (right) was struggling to carry the equivalent of an avian chandelier up to his new pad. I could just picture the missus shaking her head and saying 'I told you that will never go with the designer newspaper and spittle sofas!'

Ah yes, it's great to be so close to nature. I'm just thankful that my work neighborhood is far from my home, where baby birds would be a tasty treat for all the newborn kitties. A side of nature I'd rather not witness!

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I prefer this blog be a place of social rather than political commentary. But I just read an article in this week’s Economist that brought an interesting point to my attention.

There are many hot topics of discussion in and about Turkey, and one of the hottest is the Armenian situation during WWI, when hundreds of thousands of Armenians died while being forced into exile.

The article on
Turkish nationalism states that the US Congress has pledged to adopt a resolution calling the mass slaughter genocide. This raises a lot of questions for me:
  • What gives the US Government the right to pass resolutions on other countries’ domestic policies, especially ones from nearly a century ago? And what is congress doing with taxpayers’ money?!
  • Has the US Government admitted that the mass slaughter of Native Americans - where entire tribes were annihilated - was genocide?
  • If there were Native Americans who could flee during the massacres and relocate to Turkey (and France and the UK and Russia), and who lobbied those governments for a similar resolution, how would the US react?
I am no expert on the subject, but what I understand is this:
  • Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died and many were killed while being sent into exile.
  • These Armenians were also fighting for an independent country (which involved killing Turks and Kurds) and were supported by Russia, a country Turkey was at war with. At that time Turkey was fighting a bloody war on five fronts with Russia’s allies - UK and France. If American Cubans were fighting for an independent state with support from Al Qaeda, and innocent Americans were being killed, would the US react in a humane way?
  • Unlike Native Americans, many Armenians were able to flee and build successful lives in other countries
  • Armenians now have their own country.
  • There are still many Armenians in Turkey, who live prosperous lives and in harmony with the rest of Turkey – including Jews, Kurds, Arabs and other Christians.
I’m not excusing what happened way back in 1915. But if you look at the history of genocides, the beginning years of the 20th century were clearly troubling times. Nothing is black and white, especially in this part of the world. Only through dialogue can such issues be resolved. And I encourage governments to resolve their own issues regarding their past before meddling in other governments’ domestic policy.