18 October 2013

Kurban Bayramı

The 3-4 day holiday of Kurban Bayramı (Festival of Sacrifice) begins about 70 days after the end of Ramazan. A religious-based festival commemorating the sacrifice to God by Abraham (Ibrahim) of a ram in place of his son, it is meant to be a time of sharing. Strictly speaking, it offers the supreme opportunity for Muslims to practise charity, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Ibrahim’s sacrifice is reenacted through slaughtering of meat animals for sharing amongst friends, family, and the poor. Nowadays, city-dwellers pay a fee to abattoirs to have meat prepared in their name for distribution. Because Avanos is a relatively rural community, there is still apparently some local ‘sacrificing’ that goes on, as evidenced by our terrier bringing home a stomach the other day, and a cow’s foot this afternoon: dogs love Kurban Bayramı.

Practising Muslims begin the first day of Kurban Bayramı with a visit to the Mosque. Muslim or not, everyone dons their best clothes and spends the rest of the holidays visiting friends and family, paying particular tribute to the elder generations. New outfits for children mean that their old clothes can be given to the poor.

Here in the clay studio, neighbourhood children come calling, wishing us Happy Bayram, showing us respect by a kiss on the right hand before touching it to their foreheads. In return, they receive a sweet, a kiss, and a “Happy Bayram”. The days & evenings are an endless stream of visitors, allowing us little time for working.

Coupled with Bayram is a 2-day national Turkish holiday.  This means all government offices are closed for the entire week.  Roads are jammed with travellers; airline tickets, bus tickets, and  hotel rooms are as scarce as hens’ teeth. But business is brisk for the many shopkeepers here who cater to tourists. Friends & acquaintances are among the best customers. It’s a time for tea & sweets and autumn garden bounty, shared in the warmth of good company.

Next week, the nation gets back to work. And I can finally get that letter mailed at the post office.
Hot-air balloons rise at dawn

15 October 2013

A Brief Visitor

I am Kömür. I’m as black as the coal for which I’m named, and my big eyes are a piercing yellow. I’m a bit small for my age of 4 months, being a street cat; & I’m thin. But I think fast on my feet, and I can run and hide from even the biggest dogs.

A couple of days ago, while running to hide in the gravevines, I slipped and fell from the 5 metre high garden wall, landing awkwardly on the street below. I crawled under a nearby car to recover. When the car moved away, I was out in the open and found I couldn’t stand. The curious dogs wanted to play with me; but I couldn’t run away.  I hurt so much! And I was paralyzed with fear!

The lady found me, hissing and yowling to save myself. She wrapped me in a cozy sweater and took me to the vet, who said I was not broken and would probably be ok in a day or two.  I didn’t feel ok.  I wasn’t broken on the outside; but my insides felt broken. And I was so afraid! But the nice lady took me home and got me a sandbox, a soft pillow, and some warm milk. I couldn’t drink the milk, but I have been able to crawl to the window, where I can see outside and let the morning sun warm me.  But I am growing very weak and still can’t eat anything.

Tonight, the lady has brought me into the toasty warm studio, wrapped in my sweater and nestled in my basket on my pillow, so I can be in company and be soothed by the friendly voices of the other people. It feels nice. Another vet has come to see me.  He and the lady have fed me warm milk in an eyedropper, but it’s hard for me to swallow, and I don’t think it is helping, I’m glad to be warm, with someone stroking me. But my insides are broken: I am dying.

W buried Kömür in an abandoned walled garden later in the evening. He was with us for only a couple of days of his short life. Even after such a short time, I find myself missing his presence. During the night I remind myself that there is no need to go check on him. The warm sweater is washed and ready for another homeless visitor. Maybe the next one can stay longer.