ART / istanbulogy / September 20, 2013

Syria bleeds…

 

nisantasi streetart 1

 

The Syrian consulate is here in Nişantaşı. For a while I worked in a beautiful art-nouveau building, the Ralli, where the consulate is located. I was fresh out of the university daydreaming of travelling abroad; taking long trips around the world. I would envy those backpackers on their way to Syria, who would come for a visa. Especially those western girls who could work wherever they travel to, though mostly in under-qualified jobs. And of course, that was not feasible with a Turkish passport, I knew it. Still, I was fascinated by the backpackers’ uniform:)

Lately, wondering why I knew so little about our neighbors. When I was travelling abroad, people I meet would ask me all sorts of questions about Greece, Syria, Iran, Bulgaria, Georgia and etc. Not having been to one single Greek island was becoming quite embarrassing even though I have had dozens of stamps in my passport. The faraway lands were alluring and accessible but the neighbors did not seem to be so accessible. I have always avoided the neighbors thinking I would not be welcome because of you know why. After decades of self-censorship, we could not utter much about the cultural diversity here, let alone the neighboring countries, which were formerly the Ottoman territories. I grew up in an atmosphere of paranoia, conspiracy and distrust back in the ’80s. You cannot blame it all on the Cold War. “They all hate us!” was a part of the dominant ideology; “They hate us all because they once were a part of the Ottoman Empire”, sang the chorus! 

Syria is one of those neighboring countries, which I never get to visit. Why did I postpone visiting Palmyra? Syria has been bleeding for more than 2 years. The wars in this part of the world never seem to end in less than a decade. The karma of blood shed in this region is heavier than you could ever imagine. I am afraid one day I will end up believing in fate. It is so heavy that you have no other option but to surrender. You feel you are swept away by some currents you have no control over. And you eventually happen to admit that this is not an impression; it is a fact of life.

Sometimes Syrians get together at the small square right across the building. They sit on the pavement burning candles and quietly praying. My heart goes out for them. Official war memories are a few generations away so war mongers are cheering up. I wonder how we are going to prevent a conflict beyond our borders when we are unable to put an end to a conflict within our borders?

 


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Tags:  80s civil war Greece memories neighbors Nişantaşı Ottoman Empire ottoman heritage photo essays politics street art Syria Syrian refugees Syrian war war




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