30th

I am sitting now inside the Blue Mosque among the throngs of people listening to the sermon for the Friday prayers being articulate wholly in Turkish. The time now is 1240. The sermon is actualy presented before the noon call to prayer. I sit here alone, with much relief in my being. The results for  my final semester in NUS is out and dear had helped me check it out.

Alhamdullilah, I had managed to secure my 2nd lower and at the same time achieved on of the best results ever for one semester. As such, in this beautiful mosque, I thank God for helping me realise the objective I had set, one which I had worked hard for and which I feel I thoroughly deserve. Of being able to make it to honours year despite juggling intensely the other objectives and commitments in this pedagogical experience. I stand proud to what has been achieved, not only in the academic nature, but also success in its various denominations. More importantly life skills which I could and would most probably use in realising the greater objective I have in mind. Thus, in Istanbul, on this 2nd last full day here, inside this opulent and majestic mosque, I feel fulfilled.

The real journey now will soon begin. Let it come and let what I’ve learnt and experienced thus far be an able coutenance come what may. Insya allah.

31st

2030: It’s the final night that we will have in Istanbul and to that end we were trying to take as much of Istanbul as we can. It was for the 3rd time for that Sunday alone that I prayed at the Blue Mosque. Each time, I tried to soak in the tranquility and nobility of this mosque, while at the same time performing my prayers in jemaah.

That day too, we decided to locate this eatery called Cafe Masala, which was mapped near the Blue Mosque itself. There we sipped on Turkish tea after Turkish tea, one session in the late morning, the other in the evening where we witnessed a slightly muted and disappointing dance of the whirling dervishes.

After maghrib, me and David sat down yet again at the lovingly tended gardens between the mysterious splendour of the Aya Sofya and the gilded charm of the Blue Mosque. We waited until abiut 1030 for the Isyak call to prayers and it didnt disappoint. Once again, amidst the tranquil of the night, multiple renditions of the azan pierced melodiously trough the cold night air. We sat for a bit more, before slowly proceeding back to the hostel at which we had parked our bags after checking out at 1120 this morning. We had planned to visit Mahmud, the roadside calligraphr en route to the hostel to say our last goodbye.

Arguably, among the Turkish people we’ve met and conversed with, Mahmud was the most genuine, despite his stuttering grasp of English. I joked with him tha he should give us free calligraphy since we were almost like regular customers despite our short stay in Istanbul. Mahmud smiled and said “You’re my  brother, I give you free.” I tought for a while and took the offer. David followed grudgingly after, as soon as he found someone to present th calligraphy note to. In my mind, at the end of his work, I’ll pass him 5 lira for his efforts. He did not accept however.

We then said our goodbyes, in the traditional Turkish way of a cheek to cheek ‘kiss’ on both sides. His daughter Dilara was there too, and together the 4 of us took pictures for memory sake. I told him that I would email him the photos (sadly though I could not find the card that he gave me). The 2 of us then walked back, quietly happy that this night was a fitting send off to our experience though, of course barring the 3 consecutive nights of uncomfortable sleep we had at out 8 man dormitory. (inclusive of the night late at the airport which would most probably be as uncomfortable) At least however, we wont have a Californian guy who roars his snores in the dark of the night. It was so bad that 2 of the guys in the room went out to sleep at the corridor. And the guy sleeping above him broke into laughter from time to time. Most probably in disbelief at such a ‘phenomenon’.

That said, Istanbul, this magical land was worth every minute second. And as I write this entry in the plan from Dubai to Singapore, I half look forward to reaching home, but half wonder to when I would visit this place again.

As with all writings, I did not manage to chronicle fully my experience in Istanbul, some because of the circle of time that blunts the memory or the inability to write vividly and completely enough in real time, my experience there. What appears thus is a fragmented and incomplete account of my experience. For that my sincerest apologies. Tessekur ederim… Thank you in Turkish

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