We flew to Istanbul on Pegasus airlines and landed at Sabiha Gökçen International Airport at 8 am. Perfect timing to spend an entire day in the Asian side of that beautiful city before boarding our next Pegasus flight at 21:30 to Nevsehir airport, Cappadochia. The duration of the flight is hardly 55 minutes. The airport is a mere 30 minutes on the shuttle to our hotel in Çavuşin.
While in Istanbul, we took a Havaş bus from Sabiha Gökçen International Airport to Kadikoy (9 liras each ticket). We were dropped off by the pier. A Perfect location.
We roamed Kadikoy all day, ate borek and simit, drank Turkish tea and coffee at open cafes, devoured loads of Turkish delight and kunaifeh, walked by the pier, sat at a fish restaurant and enjoyed our grilled fish with raki and Turkish mezze. We had a list of places to see in the Asian side of Istanbul which I had copied from this blog:
But being me, I couldn’t find most of them!
Back to the ariprot: we couldn’t find the Havaş bus, although the stop by the pier and there’s a bus to an from he airport every 30 minutes. Instead, we took the E11 city bus. Not a smart thing to do because of traffic. We were lucky that our flight was delayed. We might have missed it otherwise.
Landing in Nevsehir:
We were on a budget so we didn’t rent a car in Cappadochia. Instead, we took the shuttle to our hotel, Cave Village Hotel, but I strongly suggest renting a car from the Nevsehir airport. There’s so much to see in Cappadochia. We were lucky because we befriended three Greek tourists who were staying at the same hotel. We spent our last day in Cappadochia with them driving around and seeing sites which we could have missed.
We reached the hotel and immediately booked our hot air balloon ride for the morning followed by a tour to a number of sites and caves, including the underground city.
My niece and I will never forget that experience. Floating high above Cappadochia is breathtaking.
We spent an hour up in the air. Trying to land the hot air balloon, as we discovered later, is not an easy thing. There was an entire crew dedicated to each hot air balloon, following it from one strip of land to another, until it landed directly on the flat bed of a moving truck. Once the balloon was secured with robes, we got off and were greeted by popping champagne and achievement certificates to our names!
Back to the hotel. Breakfast was waiting for us. Turkish breakfast is a feast on its own. Abdi, the gentle sweet matron of the hotel with his aşkim prepared and served it to us al fresco.
She flew into the dark city and suddenly the city became full of light. They were pale before her, the people with their empty looks and washed straw hair. She laughed loud when all they knew was to nod. She danced barefoot and danced with heels and drank wine from the bottle and stepped on a dead jelly fish and still laughed. They did not understand her.
He loved her. The tall man with the straw-washed hair and long legs and blank blue eyes. He loved her because he couldn’t help but love her. He loved her and did nothing else to help the love grow. When the love withered and died, she was no longer dancing. She was sitting in the corner of a straw hut, her hair turning white.
Her jet black curls turning white. And limp.
I do have a bone or two to pick with gay people.
Three bones, to be exact.
My friend A tells me about the opening of “Europe’s first gay-friendly mosque,” but I don’t believe him, until google confirms it, under the same title: ‘Europe’s first gay-friendly mosque’ sparks controversy.”
My jaw dropped. My eyes opened wider, and I was momentarily paralyzed with disbelief and shock.
Not because of the controversy. It is the act itself, the attempt to align homosexuality with Islam, the seemingly desperate need on the part of gay people to belong to religion, any religion, even Islam.
Why is religion so important, holding on to its dying mutilating (and mutilated) shreds so necessary, that without it, the one group of people who have presumably broken away from all rules and shackles associated with society are hitherto determined to elbow themselves into the midst of its archaic destructive prejudiced courts?
I feel so disappointed in all the gay men and women I have respected and supported for so long.
Why insist on tightening the yoke around your necks, gathering with your own hands the stones which your executioner will use to stone you alive, sharpening the stake which they will drive up your bodies, to set you up as effigies, a lesson to those who need to learn their lesson.
Islam and homosexuality do not mix.
To be a homosexual is not to be a Muslim.
Just like oil and vinegar (or is it oil and water): they just don’t mix.
What will my dear confused gay friends who belong to that mosque say when they come across the surahs which relish the punishment of Lot’s people, for no reason but because they were just like my dear 21st century confused gay men, well, gay?
Will they just skip them, without acknowledging them, or say that they were false verses? Will they say that the verses are false? Or that the punishment was the result of other sins? No my dear, because the verses clearly indicate that those men were punished because they “desired” other men.
Skipping, denying, or falsifying the verses in the Quran ensures an automatic denial of Islam itself, because to be a Muslim is to believe in every word mentioned in the Quran, to accept the book in its totality, word by word, story after story, one worldly punishment after another.
The picture is ugly. It does not favor gay people.
The same thing with Christianity and Judaism.
Homosexuals, in the eyes of religion, are the plague of society and are to be dealt with as germs, diseased individuals who have to be shunned, ostracized, tortured, and killed.
Why go out of your ways to try to belong to a religion which will spit you out, regardless?
Is Jesus all that beautiful and merciful that you aspire to get his blessings and be saved by his blood?
Or is Mohammad the ultimate prophet of moderation and love that you are going out of your way to follow him?
Are you kidding me?
Create your own religion. Resurrect your own Jesus and embrace your own Mohammad. This is what you need. You have become a religion in your own right, a care free religion. Write your own rules. Inscribe them on tablets and hang them on rainbow flags. Ordain your own priests. Invent your own God.
The ones already circulating around do not harbor you any good.
And you are good.
Better yet, turn that mosque to an art studio, a gay bar, or a “For Gay Lovers Only” Bed & Breakfast motel and hang the most vibrant breathtaking Rainbow flag on its door. Let it dance in the breeze and dance with it, beautiful people.
Dance. Don’t preach.
P.S: I forgot to count. How many bones did I pick?
A referendum to introduce a law which would oversee stricter tougher sentences for women who have killed their brothers and sons for bringing “shame” to their families has been rejected for the forth time in the People Democratic of Thulmestan.
Representative Habibulnas’ attempts to sway the General Council’s decision continue to fail and he has been accused of promoting vice and trying to obliterate the practice of Honor Killings. Habibulnas urged the shura council to consider increasing the punishment for women accused of killing their brothers and sons in the name of Honor. In a televised interview, Habibulnas reiterated his demands and vowed to “stand firm in the face of other representatives who have so far blocked the attempt to introduce tougher sentences for women who have killed their brothers and sons for bringing “shame” on their families.” He is urging the government to introduce a special tribunal to hear honor killing cases against men, but a parliamentary alliance has so far blocked all attempts to change any articles of the legal code, especially article 69, a “crime of passion” defense, which is commonly used and gives reduced sentences to women who claim they committed violence in the fury of the moment.
Thousands of terrified men gathered in Sahat Al Mathloomeen, joined by Rights Groups who want to change laws amounting to legal impunity for women involved in honor killings, in support of the proposed referendum, after the body of 18 year old Haitham Elmustaq was found stabbed to death in a deserted field in an apparent Honor Killing crime resonant of the hundreds carried out on young men all over the country.
“My friend was 18 when he was killed. All he did was befriend a girl online and meet her at a coffee shop. They did not have sex. They did not even kiss. But his sister would not believe him. She just killed him,” Kahldoun Zadi broke down in tears, holding a “Justice to Sameer” banner with his slain friend’s picture on it.
“Something has to be done,” Marwan El Hamayra, from Sult in Jordan said in a phone interview from an undisclosed location. Marwan has been in hiding ever since his sister found out that he lost his virginity one night, when a woman attacked him in a side lane and forced him to have sex with her. “I was raped. I fought back, but she overpowered me. I ran away from home. I knew what was waiting for me there. I would be killed.”
Marwan El Hamayra’s sister, who never stopped looking for him to wash the family’s shame, burst into his hiding place right after our phone conversation, and, aided by an angry aunt who held his arms down, slit his throat. The two women then walked proudly into the police station and turned themselves in. They were released after serving two months in a minimum security prison.
I carried you around
Like stratum corneum
A layer of dead skin
Itching to be exfoliated
With cotton balls
Moistened with scented oils
How my skin glowed
When they dropped you
In the waste basket
At the dermatologist office
And ran my credit card
To pay for the 30 minute facial
The time it took
Between lugging you around
And closing the lid
A few blackheads
And some ingrown hairs
I was politely informed
You never got that deep.
If God truly existed inside churches, I would have begged him to turn me into a wooden plank and nail me to the floor so all his worshippers would step on me in His name.
If He existed inside mosques, I would have begged him to turn me into a mat and glue me to the floor, so the foreheads of the believers, their palms, knees, and toes would find me there, waiting for their prayers.
If God existed inside synagogues, I would have begged him to turn me into oil so I would forever burn in the sockets of candles, mingling with the tears and supplications of His chosen people.
If He existed inside a Buddhist temple, I would have begged him to turn me into miles of red cloth and wrap me on the shoulders of monks sashaying at His feet, endless in His capacity.
I looked for God there, but I didn’t find Him.
I found Him in the eyes of a laborer, hiding from the August midday sun in Dubai, stealthily sipping water from a plastic container in Ramadan.
The fear-stricken look of a desperate God. A terrified God, emaciated, abused, nameless.
I found Him in a lock of hair escaping from under the headscarf of an 8-year-old girl in Yemen, dead in childbirth. Ripped. Bereaved. Silenced.
I found Him in the limps littering the streets of Bagdad. Severed. Decaying. Rotting.
I found Him in the clenched fists of a jailed black boy, holding on to the bars, waiting to be executed. Unkempt. Forsaken. Forgotten.
Rescue me, God pleaded.
Rescue me from the mullahs and priests and rabbis and swamis. Set me free.
This morning, when Archangel Gabriel went to God’s throne to receive the daily task list, God was not there.
This was the first time EVER that God had left his throne. And EVER in God’s time is a very very long time.
God had disappeared without leaving a note, directions, or orders.
No one up in heavens knew where God had gone.
There was a sense of loss, confusion, and fear among the angels.
And because Gabriel did not have God’s direct command to search for him, he did not.
Had he done so, he would have found God weeping in a cave on a mountain in Mecca, searching between the cobwebs and the rubble and all the dusty layers of centuries bygone for the actual message he had sent to earth.
You see, God did exist. He lived up there in the seventh heaven and had a throne surrounded by winged creatures who flew up and down between heavens and earth and every once in a while delivered an occasional message or two to those individuals God had chosen to call prophets. But then the messages got all mixed up, screwed up beyond repair, and there was a point where no one, not even God himself, could figure out what was going on.
So many things have gone wrong that for such a long time He had fought an urge to just finish off the human race, euthanize it, or may be just order a sweeping lobotomy operative to take place and eradicate all evil from earth.
But he didn’t.
And now, there was a very pressing question on God’s mind as He sat in a corner in the cave pondering. He wanted to know when exactly, and how, did he say that if a man raped his five year old daughter, burnt her, tortured her some more, sodomized her, and killed her, he, the man, should not be prosecuted, charged, or killed; but, on the other hand, if an underage exploited abused maid is accused of causing the death of a child, who might or might not have suffocated on his own bottle, she should be beheaded?
Crime and Punishment? All in the eyes of the believers.
And what bothered God as he sat in that desolate corner is the wording. He is so good with words. Infallible. Which words could he possibly have used to convey that erroneous message?
In which surah did he add those dictates? Which verse?
Try as he could, he could not remember.
“What did I do wrong?” God was weeping, pulling his hair, banging his head against the rocks. Bleeding.
He no longer believed in Himself.
And then He became quiet. He sat in the cave and decided never to leave. He was afraid. He knew what would happen if he stepped outside. The bearded mobs in the mosques below would accuse him of apostasy and behead him.
He knew. He created them.