Merhaba from Istanbul- I’m writing this blog while waiting for my connecting flight to Dubai. This trip, I visited Istanbul & Fethiye- far from all stress reminders. Mashallah is the best way to sum up my post-holiday feeling. The sound of the Azan (call for prayer) covers Istanbul with a blanket of angelic voices. Regardless of what religion you belong to or which faith you follow, this sound is heart-warming and brings an assurance of peace with it.
Everything can be found in this magnificent country, talented & hardworking people (more than 80million of them), excellent food- whether you are after fine dining with a high end flair or a speed water who needs something on the run, a suitable feast for your senses is always guaranteed. Starters, mains and desserts- bring together all your eyes, heart and tummy can possibly desire. I never get bored of the food here. Tradition meets modernity. The food evolution here never is an ongoing process. Afiyat ölsun or Sa7tein as we would say it! Enjoy your meal!
Everything here is blooming and blossoming- it’s May so the trees don’t fail to show off their colourful seasonal dresses. Last time i visited Turkey was in 2015, to prepare my home, you can never have enough Turkish home décor- it brings your nest to life! All was packed and shipped safely and efficiently to Dubai where it now decorated my beautiful home. Ceiling and floor lights, tea and coffee sets, evil eye protectors and bed throws. In addition to home shopping, I also came to collect my wedding dress from here. A beautiful piece created by a Turkish designer and the final touches were done by my Syrian tailor back home in Dubai. My wedding, now an everlasting series of images in my mind- a ring on my finger, a promise made between two people to give it a serious try- the one of: one roof one/ one life bond. The dress is in my closet, I take an occasional peek very now & then. You know why, memories keep us alive. Our roof covers and protects us in many places as my husband and I are passionate travellers.
This time my longing for familiarity brought me back here. I needed some time off from, well, many things.I came her to find, you know, peace. Now I’m sitting in the lounge- with birds flying across he room, olive trees and traditional Turkish elements reminding me of what is out there, outside the airport. Somehow they managed to bring the inside of the airport to life- assimilation I guess.
Few more minutes to go and it’s time, duty is calling. In my suitcase a lot of decoration in my mind, the wish to hold on to all I have encountered for a little longer.This time my short shopping trip was fully dedicated to my institute. Turkey caters at each & every corner, much of what my institute would never get enough of- pomegranates. Yes, the name of the institute is Pomegranate Institute. That’s another story.
Back home in Dubai…back home could be many places for me, amongst them the UAE, Germany, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan and wherever my heart was embraced by the people and country I visited. Turkey is certainly one of them.
Let me take you to my favourite spot in my home, it’s in front of my favourite painting: The Dancing Tree, you will find it hanging on a pistachio/golden wall in my dining room, in between Love & Salaam (Peace), a green decorative apple on my Syrian artisan table. My friend Dana painted this masterpiece. It’s full of life & happiness- just like her! Being in Turkey, reminds me of Syria and all the things I miss so dearly about my so called cradle of civilisations. Turkey and Syria have something in common that I miss a lot in the UAE- both have four seasons. This what the dancing tree painting resembles, my four seasons.
Each season has its own magic, its own preparation, its habits and celebrations. We live with what they give us, preserve what is not meant to outlive a particular season and plan our trips to be in certain places during a particular phase of any given season. Just like in Turkey, we have our olives in Syria, we marinate them in olive oil and add different herbs, spices and flavours to them. We have our makdous (stuffed eggplants) our apricot jam, our labneh tabat (yoghurt balls) and shinglish (white cheese) outlive a season due to their precious olive oil bath that they rest in until it’s their time to be consumed by a hungry and collective occasion, accompanied by chai (traditional tea). When it’s not the season for the jasmine flower, gardenia or our roses to blossom, then we wear them on our bodies through the oil we safeguarded from them.
In winter my grandma would take over, stories of her childhood, roasting chestnuts at her fireplace, in summer I’d play football with my cousins, cool off in the pool, eat watermelon and white cheese until the sun came out- then it would be sleeping time until lunch was ready. Autumn is a time to say goodbye to summer vibes and spring kisses you awake from your winter deep sleep. Spring & summer were also fruit and vegetable picking time at my grandparents’ place- trust me, no fruit tastes better than when it’s freshly plugged off a tree.
I feel that changing seasons play an important role in our biological clock. Part of us knows exactly how to adapt to each season, to embrace, acknowledge and accept what can and shouldn’t be done during each of the four seasons.
Maybe the four seasons are just an excuse to spend another moment in front of the airport door, maybe a little hesitant to enter & leave behind what infused a breath of fresh air into my tired system, then reality kicks in and I know, my season is the one of being dutiful. One last glance over my shoulder, a kiss, a wave and a see you soon Turkey… or is it you, Syria? I’m. It ready to say farewell. Oxygen, inhale, exhale.
CEO & Founder of Pomegranate Institute