Life is Only a Moving Picture

Today was such an amazing day but I will try to blog about this weekend all in one go early next week. And after my last text-heavy post I thought you all might enjoy some laid back picture viewing time.  

Here are pictures from our time in the UK and some pictures of our life in Turkey from when Erik and Krishna came to visit. Enjoy!

Erik and Krishna Come to Visit Turkey!

Glorious Britain!

Life is only what you make out
So make the verses rhyme and all the pieces fit
There isn’t any time to make much sense of it
It soon fades away
Oh no oh oh no

Life is only a moving picture
Nothing in life is a permanent fixture
Oh no oh oh no

I Never Be Picture Perfect Beyonce

This is a picture of me from today. Evidently people in Istanbul don’t wear stickers on their faces but they laugh a lot when they see someone wearing one!

Today I woke up feeling sick with a closed up throat and a terrible headache. I tried every remedy I knew from eating brownies to watching trash TV with no success. Seeing as being home wasn’t going to help the situation I decided to go exploring in hopes that the fresh Bosphorus air would help fix me right up.

My exploring led me to a much more residential part of the area. It was nice to see normal Turkish people instead of the masses of chic people and tourists on Istikal street. I found myself smiling at the shop owners, nodding my head like someone who is familiar to the area, who may have lived there her whole life. But then I am forced to buy something at one of the shops and the shop owner quickly realizes I don’t know Turkish. Suddenly, my cover is blown and I am just a foreigner again.

As I was walk out of the shop, I began drafting a letter to Rosetta Stone in my head. This is what it looked like but I think in my head the font was Courier and not Times New Roman.

“Dear Rosetta Stone,

I would like to strongly urge you to create a Rosetta Stone for Turkish that will teach things one might actually need to know in a foreign country. In almost one month in Turkey I still have not had the opportunity to say, “The boy is under the table.” or “The dog is jumping.” In fact, the dogs in Turkey never jump! They just lay lifeless outside my front door. In say, some time in the first five or so lessons, I would recommend teaching things like, “That is too expensive!” or “You can’t be serious!” That would end around 90% of the conversations I have. Also, “Do you know that Obama is a close personal friend?” might come in helpful sometimes. I sincerely hope that you will consider these suggestions.

Best Regards,


To get the bad taste of being a foreigner out of my mouth I walked down the steep, steep road to the Bosporus and had one of the best moments of my life. I was walking along side the Bosporus and the sun was hitting the water in such a way that even with my sunglasses on, I could see millions of diamonds. The heat felt so good in contrast to the breeze coming from the water. I could hear the Imam leading Friday prayer at the Mosque beside the water and I could feel the words in every part of my body. I hope I can remember this moment for always. Of course I will remember it happened, but I hope I can remember it. The feeling of hope and of promise that one day I will stand before God.

Since I have been in Turkey I am almost becoming frustrated with how much time I spend thinking about God. I just can’t get Him out of my head! Maybe it is all the mosques everywhere or maybe it is because I spend so much time with myself but somehow God is never more than a thought or a feeling away. In Ann Arbor I got so good at not thinking about God. Even when I prayed I was barely thinking about Him. Instead there was always somebody around, always somebody to talk to or go out with or meet for dinner.

But now here in Istanbul, I am always walking towards Him, always thinking about Him. Ghandi once said “There are people in the world so hungry that God can not appear to them except in the form of bread.” I think that for so long I filled my life with so, so many people that God could not appear to me. I was so consumed by the creation that I lost sight of the Creator. It became so, that God could only appear to me in the depths of my loneliness.

And now days, I don’t feel so lonely. As I let new people enter my life, as I reconnect with old friends, I find that they don’t have to consume me. A large part of my motivation for coming to Turkey was so that I could grow stronger. So that I could challenge myself to adapt in a world where I didn’t know anyone and where I didn’t know the language or culture. But mostly so I could learn about the strength of my own two feet. What I didn’t realize was that at times it would be incredibly hard and painful. As I finally find myself emerging on the other side, I am thankful for the challenges that Istanbul first presented and those that it still will. Already I feel the stirrings of someone who is stronger, more confident and more ready to face this very, very big world.

Young and Innocent Days

Today at work, after completing a test at the end of a training, I was given a list and it said: “As a reward for your hard work, click on your ideal travel location below.” After I picked Nadi, Fiji (pictured to the right), a message popped up and said, “In your dreams! You’re needed back at work!” So cheeky! 

The world keeps going round

Small Miracles

Before coming to Turkey, we heard a lot about the hospitality of the people here. We heard stories about people on buses inviting you over to dinner, strangers talking to you and welcoming you and about the general niceness and openness of everyone. Although we have met a handful of incredibly wonderful, kind and helpful people, overall we have felt pretty alienated from the general population. It is no help that we did not learn more Turkish before we came and that is something we need to work on. Needless to say, in some ways the transition has been hard. Two things happened in this last week that have really changed my perception of Turkey and of generally being here.

While I was at work last week, I went to take a sip of my coffee and instead of reaching my mouth it spilled all over the front of my cream colored dress. Not only was I out of my much-needed caffeine fix, but it was only 9:30 am and I faced a day of walking around with a huge brown spot that somewhat resembled Florida on my front side. (On my best quadrant I dare say, for the 30 Rock lovers). I went to the bathroom and promptly made the stain twice its size as I tried to clean it out. Then there was a great blast of light as the bathroom door opened and I think somewhere in the distance I could hear angels singing. In walked the bathroom assistant lady. She took one look at what I was doing and shook her head and came over and grabbed the front of my dress and pulled it under the sink. She promptly soaped it up, scrub-scrub-scrubbed, wrung-wrung-wrung and like magic my dress looked better than when I first bought it! Then she took me under the dryer and waited until it was dry before she left me to my own devices. And then, just like that, before I could even properly say my broken ta-shakraylar (thank you), my angel was gone!

This past weekend we went to the Prince’s Islands and when it was time to pray, Feraz and I set out to find a mosque. Eventually, after Feraz asked someone every ten feet which way the mosque was, we were able to find it. Unfortunately once I got there there were no hijabs (head scarves) for me to wear while praying as there typically are in mosques in Turkey. I sat there for a while thinking I wouldn’t be able to pray when I saw one of the girl’s there pulling a scarf out of her bag. Well. This was a very big bag. And if there was one hijab in it I thought, there might be two! So I tapped her and asked, “Hijab? For me? To pray?” (Sometimes you have to become frugal with your words when most of the people in the country don’t know English!) And to my delight she did! I wanted to hug her and kiss her for being such a prepared Patty but instead I accepted the hijab and gave her a big smile. “Where you from?” she asked me. “Originally from Pakistan but now I live in the US,” I replied. She didn’t hate me immediately! She didn’t yell at me about the financial crisis! She just smiled and said, “Oh, very nice.” Then she giggled and walked away and I went off to pray. After praying I set down the hijab next to her because she was still praying and went out to meet Feraz. As we were leaving I hear an “Excuse me!” behind me and I turn to see my new friend. She says, “Just one minute please!” I wonder if I have gotten my post-biking sweat all over her white hijab or if I left it with the wrong girl. I wonder if she just remembered that she has to yell at me for being American. Instead she comes out with a present!! She tells me that she wants me to have a little reminder of Turkey as a gift. She gave me a small travel prayer rug and this small but very, very big gesture filled me up and made me so happy. I will never forget her act of kindness and how it made me feel welcome in a country that has been so scary and intimidating because of my foreignness.

So, Turkey isn’t perfect. Neither am I, and neither is anything else. But the more I open my eyes the more beauty I see and I realize that this experience is going to be more amazing than I can imagine.

(The image is what came up when I googled Nice Turkish Person on google images…)

The Good, The Bad and The Turkey

Some thoughts on Turkey…


-We love our apartment. It is smaller than we expected but there is definitely enough room for us. It is a very efficient apartment and has everything you could possibly need. I think that almost everything is from Ikea. The tables, rugs, towels, dishes, and even the kitchen unit. The apartment also comes with a disco ball in the ceiling! It is very tasteful and every night around 11:30 the family room becomes a discotecque. No complaints here. We lucked out on the location as well. It is right next to the metro, the Bosporous, and right off of Istikal street which is basically the main street in Istanbul.

-We have made a few great friends who have been amazing in helping us settle in and get to know the city and just making us feel like we are not complete strangers in this new place. If not for them we would probably still be walking around Taksim square looking for the metro.


-There is very high security. There are metal detectors, police and security people all over the place. At my work they check every single car that goes into the auto park including the trunk. Most of it seems pretty pointless and paternalistic more than anything.

-Microwaves and dryers are very uncommon so eating leftovers and doing laundry can be a bit of a pain.

-Random things are really expensive. I am not sure if it is because of where we live or just because some things are hard to import. For instance, gums and mints are super expensive. Also, I haven’t been able to get a pair of flat black shoes for work because I can’t find anything I like for under 150 lira. On the bright side (the really bright side) I did manage to get a pair of orange adidas for 10 lira from a man selling them out of cardboard boxes… 🙂


-Even though Turkey is predominately Muslim, you really can not tell. Women who wear hijab (the headscarf) can’t teach, be in the government or go to University. In some cases they aren’t even allowed to enter museums. There seems to be a great divide between practicing Muslims and non-practicing Muslims which just feels weird and alienating.

-Even though we live here we still have to pay tourist dues. For instance, the first week we were here we were walking to the Istanbul modern when a shoe shine guy walked passed us and dropped his brush. As innocent as I was back then, I rushed to tap him as Feraz retrieved his brush. The guy was soo nice!! He thanked and thanked us. Then he insisted on cleaning Feraz’s shoes. What a man! He even told us stories about his family and his kids. They sounded so nice! Except for his poor baby who was in the hospital. Some tourist made the baby have an accident! Stupid tourists. Then his brother came and started shining my shoes! This was just too much. Turkish people are as nice as everyone says! Finally we were all done and the man takes hold of Feraz and asks for 16 lira. Oh no he didn’t! Oh yes he did! We just started laughing thinking wow, this guy is serious! So we gave him 5 lira and said peace homes, thanks for making us totes not heart you anymore. We also had a cab guy try to charge us 25 lira for what was supposed to be a 3-4 lira ride but the grand baby of them all was when we saw some tourists getting charged 120 lira for a bosporous cruise for which we paid 10 lira. Oh snap.