Tuesday, 26 July 2016


Flight and New York

Writing from THY TK 001 midway on the Atlantic about five hours to JFK. Eser wanted change seats and sit next to a Syrian orthodox Priest in full garb because she deeply feels for their plight ( not flight). Earlier we made facetime communication with DD in Chicago. You should have seen the surprise on her face. 
So far no sleep. We can probably make up for the lost sleep when we meet all those people in New York, with the exception of Adu meeting whom will should keep us awake for at least 72 hours.
Comfort class cabin fine,leg room fine, bum room fine, leg lift miserable, no belly dancer on this flight (check my profile photo) . 
Walking statistics show that out of hundred 5 play games , 20 watch films, 10 stare dumbly into space, 10 stare intelligently into space, 10 eat or drink something, 5 are on wi-fi, and 60 sleep. If that's adds up to more than 100 it means that some are multi-tasking.

·         Aduchamp1 on Oct 11, 12 at 1:32am
We had lunch with OC and his charming wife today at 2nd Ave Deli. He loved the perfect patrami but was not a fan of chopped liver. We shared three side dishes besides the chopped liver, potato kugel, and kasha. The noodle kugel is far superior to the potato. And for the first time, and we have been going there forever, we had dessert. The warm chocolate babka could be the best I have ever eaten.

We hope to see them again some time in the future with or without without Jewish or Turkish pastrami. (OC explained the differences in preparation.)
Back in the room. This also became a long day. A senior bus ticket for me and an adult one for Eser took us to Port Authority on a very frequent bus No 320 right across from entrance of Hampton Inn. This was after we bought missing necessities from very near Walmart and the new AT&T card from the little AT&T shop at the Plaza across the hotel again from a Turk.

Adu and Mrs. showed us the underground of the city around 42nd and 8th and then above the ground from 42nd to 33rd, the women racing us across traffic lights and through crowds. We let them get to the 2nd Avenue Deli before us naturally.
The food ws fine although Eser ate half my pastrami sandwich while I was talking to Adu. 

Adu and Mrs were excellent hosts and we had a very pleasant three hours or more with them, hardly realizing the time flying.

Decided to try the Hertz at 95th street to see if our sale priced Lincoln Town Car which we had reserved for the 11th was actually ready a day early. The Hertz office was hectic. The lady had four kids. She over-charged us only $500 for a Mercedes 350 instead of the Lincoln but then swiped $200 more from my card. Will have to go back and correct tomorrow since dinner is very close at Picnic matket & cafe. Eser says she deserves even better than the Mercedes. I believe that I deserve the companionship of the GPS which came with this car.
Finding our hotel was very simple despite Eser.

I tried to tell her that the movie theaters near the hotel would replace a Broadway show easily since we could sleep through either because of jet lag. Went to see "Looper" and she decided that a bucket of popcorn would be our dinner tonight. I am starving, sleepy and achy now, having left the movie theatre before the end of the film because the seats were not suitable for a comfortable snooze.

The Mercedes I rented costs about $280,000 to buy in Turkey because of taxes.

·         Aduchamp1 on Oct 11, 12 at 10:36pm

OC just eats and never says anything until he needs to order the next course.

are you sure you met the real OC and not some doppelgänger?

We did not have doppelgänger just chopped liver.
·         Aduchamp1 on Oct 12, 12 at 7:38am
Chopped liver is one of those strong and unique tastes. You either love it or not. In one of Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods shows he was in a Jewish deli and spoke about tongue and chopped liver as if were he drinking coagulated yak's blood from some soon to be extinct tribe. It was shocking to think the food of my childhood evoked thoughts of the exotic and bizarre.

I wrote long paragraphs last night but must have offended some powers and/or deities of IT because punched a wrong button on the tiny netbook keyboard with my now pudgy from tasting chopped liver fingers and all I wrote disappeared. Now I am being more careful, choosing words more carefully, hands already getting back to original size after the effects of the chopped liver starting to disappear.

Yesterday morning was a mad rush around Secaucus visiting an unfortunately open and accommodating Escada outlet where the sales lady mentioned her Turkish managher and with the goodness of her heart gave much too precise directions to the Ferragamo company store which had no name, no shop window and no sign, on the side of a warehouse in an alley with a small parking lot. It is incredible how the female hand can take the shape of suction cups attaching to especially leather stuff like handbags and shoes which the owner of the appendage claims would fill a very large gap in her wardrobe even if there are at least ten items very similar to that if not exactly the same.

We left the area no richer, no wiser, possibly happier by half to leave the heavy load in the hotel room, eat a cholesterol supplement at the Red Lobster, take the bus with my $2.05 senior discount ticket to Port Authority which took only 18 minutes.

We walked a long time underground again to make it to the Q line to Atlantic Avenue and then to Doug Beube;s fabulous home and studio where we quickly decided that we could not afford most of his work because they could not compete against Escada, Ferragamo and their ilk.

After good artistic and political conversation, we made it to the Hertz rental on 95th and Broadway to discuss the $200 excess charge, were told that that was usual and would be credited back if not needed but that we had apparently not been charged for additional driver and now would be since we had stupidly walked into one of New York's standard traps.

Dinner at Picnic market cafe was sub-standard. The company was good. There was Jeff, quite young but retired IT chap living off property income bought earlier, Ray who had visited us last March and whom we had taken close to the Syrian border to visit Gobekli Tepe, Frank a very typical New York resident and Doug and us. We talked of my deceased cousin over some good wine and about the hereafter which they all believed in. They felt that the cousin was happy there and may actually be observing and protecting us. I almost said that if he had been protecting me we would not have found the Ferragamo shop that morning.

$45 taxi ride back to our hotel, telephones ringing at night and now Eser complaining I am stupidly writing this instead of helping with packing. Good bye.


Monday, 25 July 2016


This is a medieval romance or an alternate world fantasy. At least it seems like that to us.

It is hard to believe that this trip was less than five years ago.

It first appeared as a Fodor's Thread, mostly written in real time.

At points, I will include some of the comments from some of the followers of the story on Fodor's
to give a more balanced picture.

Like all our trip reports, this one also starts with the background and preparations;

CHAPTER  1  Early October

The planning started months ago. Even in April low milage frequent flier tickets were nor available, nor were low mileage upgrades. Had to pay for full economy and high mileage points for upgrades on Turkish Airlines. Drew routes and redrew them according to possibility of gaining HHonors points and visiting some areas. All lines for routes were crooked. I am terrible at drawing straight lines. Eser, DW, is worse, although she claims that she used to help her older brother draw pictures and maps at elementary school.

Can we meet photographer college friend who used to live in Hudson, NY who told me five years ago that he had some originals of photographs he had taken of me on the stage when I performed in Genet's Blacks, Uncle Vanya, Mad Woman of Chaillot, Pinter's Birthday Party, etc. so many. many years ago? 

We wrote to Aduchamp01 and the "Dinner Thread" friends already and will meet Adu in NYC and DhFrost, Jubilada and VtTraveler at Brattleboro for a mini GTG. Will also visit the Sister City Jazz Ambassadors in Pittsfield, for whom we had arranged a gig in Nicea and spent a weekend together. Andy Kelly says they will throw a party for us at a small bistro. 

Will eat at restaurant which my recently deceased concert pianist cousin loved with two or more of his close friends; meet wife and possibly son of Cypriot colleague consultant from our days in Saudi Arabia (1980-85) in New York. Also looking forward to just building up some additional stress from being in New York, wander aimlessly, visit MOMA, and a good deli. 

Have spices, Turkish cook books and olive oil soap for friends, a small carpet for Andy's daughter as wedding present  and another one for our in-laws in Detroit. DD in Chicago expects bath cloth (not towels) to give as presents. Thus 23 kilograms each in four suitcases plus carry-ons. 

Had to rent a large car from Hertz to fit all luggage. Fortunately there was a 33% savings special on it although the Chicago return costs $300 extra. I do not know if AARP membership or Gold Card made a difference on the total cost.

Had to reserve hotel outside Manhattan in NJ because of very high rates in Manhattan for that period. New England prices are not much better and MA or Vt do not have their own NJs.
Auburn and Niagara (Canadian side) were not bad at all, probably because end of October is not really a popular time to visit the area. Have both falls view room at the Hilton.

Then it is off to Detroit for Dinner with in Laws at Troy and breakfast the next day with the angel's cousin and family. DD the young will be waiting in Chicago where we will be a nuisance for them for 9-10 days.

In the meantime, The Kitchen will have been re-done in Istanbul, and the living, dining room, corridor, entrance and balcony will have been repainted. 

The nerves already frayed. Three suitcases packed, small cases of medicine, toiletries, some bath cloth and books and things sitting on the suitcases, the house full of packed boxes (32 so far) from the kitchen and living room, Eser going crazy picking everything I leave somewhere and leavingthem somewhere else so that no one can find them again. The two American shorthairs Fistik and Zipzip, feeling something nasty going on and not happy at all. Two rooms already carry 300 of my books that I managed to salvage after I discovered my publisher left them in a damp basement someplace because he went bankrupt.

DD older (who is an architect for other people) who deserted us since the renovations started and went to live with boy friend, has not been seen except when she appears at strange times to get a fresh change of clothing, but is willing to use the credit card I gave her for emergencies to buy stuff from her boyfriend's e-commerce site to help him out.

Tomorrow, an important day before most trips which require walking. I will go have my toe nails done by a specialist. Strange person that I am, I actually enjoy that.

Thursday Oct. 4 I have to act as moderator at the second panel of the day, after lunch (the grave yard shift?) with people I have never heard about as speakers and I have no idea what they will talk away. I know that some of my colleagues in the insurance business expect to see me smiling and being funny. It will all be in English. All speakers are Turkish. Am I going to have to translate their English into English? The president of the Turkish Catastrophe Administration attached to the Prime Minister's office. President of the Turkish Arbitration Bureau, a professor from Istanbul Technical University (a professor of what?) and the Director for consumer rights from the Istanbul Bar Association. This is appearing as more and more like a recurring nightmare I used to have at college when I was studying theatre, of finding myself on stage with no idea of what the play was about let alone any of my lines.

Sometime in between, I should draw the cabinets (crooked lines, remember) in the kitchen and the walls so that I can show the location of all the electricity outlets for the carpenter and tile layer, as well as what color knob I want on each cabinet door and drawer. Again, just to show our absurd side, we bought the handles in three colors and four different shapes and will have to assign them to the almost 60 doors and drawers. 

What does all that have to do with the trip report? Well, a great deal. I am setting the stage for the great pilgrimage, introducing the characters, painting the backdrop of misery and the partnership between the angel and the sinner. Notice, the angel has not protested yet about anything I wrote. Will she read all this? Yes, she will. Will i also have to write, "Methinks, the lady doth protesteth over much!" ? Possibly

Off to listen to the horrible world news, then to start paying off credit cards on-line and then try to prepare for other credit card payments while away, and of'course the knobs and what about reservations at restaurants en-route?


Two of the things I learned in life are:

"Cash usually flows one way, outwards.". and

"Money speaks. it usually says, Goodbye!"

i just remembered these when I sat to prepare for all the expenses for when we are away from the security of our humble abode.

My notes for tomorrow include,
-get flu shot
- buy some more cardboard boxes for additional packing
- buy some masking tape to cover library and small Georgetti desk ourselves.
- find telephone number of photographer friend, Sedat Pakay, in Hudson (who apparently has an exhibition in Seattle, WA later in October)
- google names of speakers on the panel 
- check for extended weather on the route
- get printouts of route from NYC hotel to Hudson to pittsfield to Manchester Center to Brattleboro.
- Make restaurant reservation in Lenox after finding out which night Andy is inviting us. (at recommended restaurant)
- paint a portion of each wall to direct the painter so that he does not make any mistakes, because walls are going to be orange, green, blue and almond.
- argue with Eser on a few simple subjects and let her win the argument.
- do twenty minutes on the threadmill.
- visit sister and BIL downstairs
- Calculate share of earthquake insurance premium for brother, sister and myself and try to collect.
- try to get Eser to prepare some CDs of interesting Turkish music for our friends in the States.
- Buy some lions milk for DD in Chicago and for the Brattleboro GTG


Received confirmation and invitation from old schoolmate photographer.

For Pittsfield, the planned reception will be Oct. 12 evening. The band which is deeply religious will play for us and the base player will preach if we attend their church on Sunday before we leave towards Vermont. Eser and I are agnostics so we think it is a great idea to have this church experience. We had attended some lovely services and other occasions at Greek and Armenian churches in istanbul and at the Neve Shalom synagogue as well as Buddhist temples in Thailand and Shinto temples in Japan.

The dinner on Oct 11 in New York in memoriam will have five friends of my cousin, two of whom we have not met before.

The trip is forming up beautifully. Eser says she is disappointed that I cannot find anyone to meet at Auburn or Niagara. I wonder if it is because she is afraid of spending time alone with such a handsome and virile man as I?

- Time to go to Piramid Sanat art house and cafe, owned by the former child prodigy, now outspoken political figure and painter Bedri Baykam, to say hello and to check if they have sold any of the five of my books I left there for sale, and to have a cup of morning tea. Will also buy the cardboard boxes on the same street in Taksim.

- Have arranged for van for airport transfers in Istanbul, departure and arrivals.
- Eser arranged for curtains to be taken down for cleaning and all mattresses to have special cleaning in our absence.
- Paintings down from the walls and stored.


 Excitement building up. 
Checked file folder. Confirmations from all hotels, e-ticket copies, Hertz confirmation there. Need to add addresses and telephone numbers of restaurants, people and route maps and directions.

I shall roll down my trousers for at least till November.

DW reminded me of rising blood sugar and failure of diet. Satan was an angel also, I reminded her back.

among other things, bought a kilo of fresh walnuts which we shall eat while watching a good film tonight. They are very good for HDL Cholesterol.

Aduchamp made the mistake of giving the date of his return from visiting parent in Florida. So he and Mrs.Adu have to meet us October 10. 

This will be after our lunch with Louise our Irish neighbor in Riyadh who once walked in the door one very hot summer afternoon in 1982 when I was sitting reading a book in only my jockey classics, sat across from me and started talking before I could get up to sneak away. By that time, getting up was out of the question. Eser could not leave the kitchen to come to my rescue because she was doubled up in laughter. What is worse, I do not think that Louise even noticed me except as a person who was prepared to listen to her. About ten years ago we met again in NYC and she continued the one sided conversation where she left it in 1982 I think, :-)

Please do not tell me that the Hampton Inn at Secaucus, NJ is a terrible choice for NYC. Anything in Manhattan started at $350. And I think that was for one of those cubicles which are popular for siestas in Tokyo.

A decent London substitute for a corned beef sandwich on rye used to be found within Selfridges, on the ground floor, off the left side entrance many years ago. Alas, it had disappeared when I visited London last two times, gone to the place that many others travel to when they have allowed us their memorable experiences. So, I should not miss this chance to visit Katz at Howsten at NooYock.

·         Adu sent me a PM saying that he will supply the chopped liver if I buy the pastrami sandwiches.

The panel went very well. I do not think I offended anyone. There were enough smiling faces in the audience. I woke them up a few times by raising my voice and interrupting the speakers with hopefully interesting questions, although the speakers may not have been too happy about that.

Used an Auden quote, "A professor is someone who speaks in other people's sleep" and a doctor joke when talking about issues with calculating PMLs reagarding earthquake exposures where one doctor says, "well, we will know who was right at the autopsy, won't we?" at the end of the discussion regarding the diagnosis of a patient's symptomps. A French underwriter we sat with at dinner last night told us that he will not forget and use some of my humorous asides at times, afterwards.
Finally, the belly dancer who somehow appeared at the dinner venue last night was a young kid, did not have the training or the body for the belly dance. So i took pity and under Eser's lightning producing eyes slipped a largish green banknote under her bra. I hope Eser understoon my compassion.
Very hectic two days. New website designer came in midst of all, followed by the handy man in charge of renovations. Assigned the knobs to drawers and cupboards in kithchen and the different color paints to the walls. Ordered the new radiator for kitchen, bought new electricity outlets to match the paint of the different walls in living and dining rooms, entrance and corridors, printed all route directions for the trip, confirmed all lunch and dinner meetings. Prepared file with all printouts, confirmations, phones, addresses, etc.
Will re-do suitcase today to make sure we have everything for temperatures between 32 to 67.

Eser needed emergency care against stress allergy triggered by wine or tomatoes or walnuts and is trying to sleep whatever they gave her by IV.

I want to make a list of things that are most likely to be forgotten at home, but I keep forgetting what they are.

Beginning to feel like Alfred E. Neuman, possibly look like an aged version of him too. I wonder if Mad magazine still survives. The cats have gotten too fat, but when we change to diet meals their urine becomes acidy. The vet keeps us selling different urinary tract and diet food everytime we call. Unless we start eating some of that ourselves we will have to go hungry before we can treat the cats properly.
So, my friend at the dinner thread, do not be surprised if I start giving you recipes containing Hills or Royal Canine ingredients.

October 7.

Tuesday morning the wreckers (removers of the lower kitchen cupboards and the tiles) arrive at 7:30AM, but our fligh is at 13:00. We will have to leave the house by 8AM and possibly take refuge downstairs in my sister's flat with suitcases and all, kiss her grandchildren goodbye to school, read the morning papers aloud to whoever is there and pet their cat Michelle before we take sense numbing medicine and are picked by our free transfer van to IST airport.

Next post will be on New York.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Pacific Northwest

A poem of Seattle and Vancouver For Starters

Rooftops are not much fun
preferring navy cardigan
and blue slacks
(not the dull yellow
for reasons unknown)
at dim areas
by gas light
bright shadows
of multi-rooted high risers
towards gates in lakes
loci in lotus

Monday, 21 March 2016


It was almost noon when we left our home with no destination in mind. So we thought. But the Passat had its own agenda, or a sudden desire to find out if the Itimat dairy factory factory store would be cheaper than their retail chain stores made us turn right at the gate of our compound. And we were on our way to Yenisehir.

We found the factory and that its store had exactly the same prices. Bought some goat white cheese anyway. This gave me an appetite and I immediately devoured one of the two sandwiches I had made for an emergency. Naturally, it was the one that contained some of a previous slab of goat white cheese in addition to tomatoes, mild pepperoncini, olive oil, thyme and my delicate touch.

Sogut/Ertugrul Gazi was the first occupied territory of the Ottoman Turks in Anatolia, the home or the point from which they spread Westward and Northward.

Our visit there was not long enough for us to go on a rampage of conquest leading to a World empire.
We decided to try with more determination, later in the year or maybe within the next decade when the current Byzantines get embroiled in civil strife and debauchery.

This time around, we took a few photographs, fed a few of the canine residents, ate some slow roasted lamb and wood grilled lamb chops with shephards salad on a highway restaurant and made it back home to Darka, on Iznik Lake to take photographs of the sunset and the moonrise.

What we see at leaving our house

Feeding a friendly rabbit as we leave Darka

Finding Sogut took just 15 more than the expected 130 kilometres

Ertugrul Gazi chopped by Eser

Probably an early Turkish Republic building

Must be the oldest mosque in Sogut

Interesting structure at garden of our restaurant

After we leave the motorway at Osmaneli, climbing the hill on route to Iznik

Peach of a tree guarding peach trees

Sun trying to hide behind some clouds and Gurle Mountain

Somehow the distance to the sun became longer, but the road better defined
This sunset may have been caused by a contraption pressing down

Somehow the colours took the hues of the trees. Otherwise it is the same sun

It was very difficult to place the sailboat to give artistic meaning to this photo

The clouds will not stop Eser's camera

Then the moon appeared when it had no reason to be there

Moon winning over the Sun

The moon started looking sinister behind our apple tree. Time to go in and post blog

Monday, 7 March 2016

ANI, The Armenian, Georgian, Seljuki City

We visited the antique city, ANI, while listening to an imaginary rendition of an infamous Walt Kelly song which begins like this:

  • Deck us all with Boston Charlie
    Walla Walla, Wash, and Kalamazoo!
    Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
    Swaller dollar cauliflower Alleygaroo!
    Don't we know archaic barrel,
    Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou.
    Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
    Boola Boola Pensacoola Hullabaloo!

It was also appropriate for me to take photographs of ants which were as visible as the ghosts of centuries. The new inhabitants had almost perfect camouflage.

Turkey-Armenia relations will improve once this bridge is restored

Looking at map of Syria

Holding onto post in absence of Eser and presenting sucked-in midriff

Someo fat guy impersonates me

Posing like the Chemist of Ampurdain


Lodging near ANI

Starting search for visible ants

where are the ants?

The photograph never made it to my book for the essay, "Of Ants and Men"

Calves are easier to recognize than ants
Looking at the past
Then and Now