Travel



Istanbul, where minarets share space with commercial signs

Having spent a short eid vacation in Istanbul, I had the opportunity to walk around the Sultan Ahmet and Eminönü areas. The main streets near the Sultan Ahmet mosque and Topkapi were full to overflowing with tourists from just about everywhere. The lines to enter the major sites stretched for hour-long waits, so I decided it was more prudent to simply walk the back streets with no particular goal in mind. On the way to the Spice Suq, where many of the shops remained open to satisfy the crowds of tourists and merchants’ pockets, I saw the iconic duality of modern Turkey in full force. On one building is a commanding mural of Ataturk, but across the street rises a conservative Islamic center. Down the road from an Ottoman religious shrine there will be a Starbucks or Burger King. Outside a fashion store is a giant image of a vivacious woman in Victoria’s Secret-like underwear, as a woman in niqab walks by. East and West, Ottoman vs. Republic, liberal and conservative: contemporary Turkey is where academically unfashionable binaries rule the streets, if not the hearts and minds of many Turks.

Of course this is the touristic center of Istanbul, complete with the tram stop that always seems to have a crowd outside. There must be a hundred or more small hotels and just as many restaurants and cafes. Kebab (or Kebap, if you prefer) is cuisine’s sultan here today. We stayed in the delightful and relatively inexpensive World Heritage Hotel, where the hospitality and ambiance are superb, and only a short walk from the Sultan Ahmet mosque, whose majestic minarets we could see from our breakfast table. Of the many restaurants nearby, my favorite was Amedros, which offers a wide range of dishes beyond the ubiquitous kebab fare. For authentic Ottoman cuisine, be sure to visit Asitane, which is near the Kariye Camii and Chora Church Museum. Of course, the joy of being in Istanbul is the constant discovery of something you will enjoy. If you have never walked these streets and alleys, you are missing a jewel outside the museums, splendid as they are.

There is an extraordinary collection of 47 Magic Lantern slides from the 1930 Beloit College Logan Museum Expedition to Algeria by George L. Waite, the photographer and cinematographer. This is available in an online collection at the website of the Smithsonian Institution. Click here to access the collection.

(more…)

I recently across a copy of The Christian Herald from December 1, 1915 and the lead article by John Maynard Owen Williams is on a recent trip he took to Syria and Iraq. The images are from a century ago and I attach a few excerpts from the article. For the first part, click here.

to be continued

يقرب الله لي بالعافيه والسلامه … وصل الحبيب الأغن
ذاك الحبيب الذي حاز الحلا والوسامه … وكل معنى حسن
ونسأل الله تعالى عودنا من تهامه … الى سفح صنعاء اليمن
لأن صنعا سقاها الله فيض الغمامه … منزل حوت كل فن

ما مثل صنعاء اليمن … كلا ولا أهلها
صنعاء حوت كل فن … يا سعد من حلها
تطفي جميع الشجن … ثلاثَ في سفحها
الماء وخضرة رباها الفايقه والوسامه … وكل معنى حسن
كم يضحك الزهر فيها من دموع الغمامه … فيا سقاها وطن

يا ليت شعري متى الأيام تسمح برجعه … إلى مدينة أزال
ونستعيد ما مضى يا سيد أفديك جمعه … وطيب بساط المطال
لأن من بعدكم ما كف لي قط دمعه … والشوق بي لا يزال
وكلما غردت ورقاء بأعلى البشامه … طلقت طيب الوسن

أهيم في عشقتك … والدمع جاري غزير
والروح في قبضتك … وانا بحبك أسير
والقلب من فرقتك … يكاد نحوك يطير
فارحم أسير الهوى من قد تزايد غرامه … إن لم تكن له فمن
لأنني لا أطيق الهجر ذا والعدامه … ولا أحتمل ذا الشجن

تظن يا منيتي ان قد نسيت أو تناسيت … او خنت عهدي القديم
شاحلف براسك بأني فيك من حين وليت … أبكي و ساعه واهيم
ولا حلى لي سواك و لا بغيرك تسليت … يمين والله عظيم
يا ناس ما حيلة المشتاق في ريم رامه … ما حيلة ابن الحسن

يا ربنا يا مجيب … عجل لنا بالرواح
لوصل ذاك الحبيب … بالأنس والإنشراح
والدهر ذاك الكئيب … قد تقضًى وراح
سهل لنا منك باللطف الخفي والكرامه … وعافنا واعف عن
صلي وسلم على طه شفيع القيامه .. والأل ما المزن شن

There was a time when “Oriental Tales” were the rage of the age. Montesquieu penned Lettres Persanes in 1721 and Oliver Goldsmith followed up several decades later with The Citizen of the World. But I recently came across a late 19th century text about a future visit of a Persian Prince and Admiral to the ruins of a land known as Mehrica. This is The Last American and purports to be the journal of Khan-Li, a rather bizarre name for a Persian but so thoroughly Orientalist in mode. The Introduction to the text was provided in a previous post.

It is quite apt that the epigraph for the book is a dedication to “the American who is more than satisfied with himself and his country.”
Given the recent “Occupy Wall Street” interest, here is a century old look at what it might have been in ruins…
(more…)

There was a time when “Oriental Tales” were the rage of the age. Montesquieu penned Lettres Persanes in 1721 and Oliver Goldsmith followed up several decades later with The Citizen of the World. But I recently came across a late 19th century text about a future visit of a Persian Prince and Admiral to the ruins of a land known as Mehrica. This is The Last American and purports to be the journal of Khan-Li, a rather bizarre name for a Persian but so thoroughly Orientalist in mode. The admiral visits America in 1990 ( a century after the book was written), when American is in ruins, following the massacre of the Protestants in 1907 and the overthrow of the Murfey dynasty in 1930. But let the introduction to the text set up the marvels…

(more…)


اب الخضراء؛ عبقرية المزارع اليمني وحكمته في أبهى صورها

A Youtube video on Aden in 2005:

A video of interest mainly to people who once lived in Aden. Landing at Aden airport (footage taken from within aircraft), Khormaksar, Crater (tanks, commercial centre, market halls, fishermen at Front Bay), Ma’alla, Steamer Point. Please also see part 2 (Gold Mohur beach, car ride around Aden). Footage taken in December 2005.

« Previous PageNext Page »