There’s a Rumi quote that, ever since first reading it, has floated around in the confines of my mind – “Not eastern, not western – human.” The beauty and simple elegance of this verse affected me so much, I almost decided to get it as a tattoo in it’s original Farsi. Fortunately, I did some research first and discovered that this is actually a doctored phrase in English, and to Iranians it would be much more recognizable in it’s modernly used – and highly un-Rumi like – form of “Not eastern, not western – the Islamic Republic.”
The ancient holiday of Nevruz/Nowruz (نوروز in Farsi) is coming up either this weekend or next, depending upon who you ask. Being very curious about holidays and the like – as well as being super excited to jump over some bonfires – I asked a Turk I knew about the celebration of Nevruz in Malatya. I ended up with this Turk’s view of Nevruz:
I don’t personally believe this story, but some Turkish people do. A long time ago, I don’t know when, the Turkish people were actually stuck in a valley surrounded on all four sides by tall mountains. The Turks couldn’t pass over the mountains for a long time. They were stuck there, in this mountain valley.
Last weekend I ventured down to Şanlıurfa again, although this time Danielle and Fabio were in tow. Although I had managed to see the majority of the sites within Urfa itself when I had gone there by myself, the city seemed to beckon to me and I was excited to see it again in large part thanks to the posts by Kim on her fantastic blog Turkey With Stuff In. The first day we arrived in Urfa, we spent the majority of the day seeing the touristy religious sites that the city is known for – and that I’ve blogged about here. Seeing the sites again was magical, but the main impetus for my return was the ruins of Harran.
Never has a city evoked so many varied emotions from me within such an exceptionally small space of time as Şanlıurfa – Glorious Urfa – managed to do this past weekend. The three days I spent there were actually so amazingly eventful, and unexpected in the most peculiar ways, that I will be splitting my experience into three posts. This one will focus on the city of Urfa itself, in all its glory.
I left Malatya for Urfa at 5:30 AM, and I was lucky enough to arrive on a quick intercity bus – made by Mercedes Benz with personal TVs, which I did not take advantage of as I promptly fell back asleep – by around 10:30 in the morning.
(Mehmet’s Kindness picks up from where The Kindness of Strangers leaves off)
Gorged from the unexpectedly massive lunch of Turkish kebaps, we made our ways towards the bus stop to catch a minibus towards Battalgazı – the site of Old Malatya, which still contains old Roman walls and other historic artifacts. Our end goal was to see an old Ottoman caravansary as well as an even older Seljuk mosque, Ulu Camii, from the turn of the 13th century. It was on this minibus that we met Mehmet, who was collecting money from passengers to help out his uncle, the driver.