Of water, wind, seagulls and nostalgia


If there is one word I could use to describe the city of Istanbul, it would be nostalgia. I am no city expert and neither have I been here several times (heck, it’s only been a little over 24 hours since I landed in this oh-so-familar place) but the city fills me with a sense of nostalgia. I am not sure what it is of yet. But as I think more about the city, its relentless clinging on to the past, its reluctant moving to the present, I feel the land and its people are nostalgic about where they come from, what they continue to represent and what they hope to become.

I have always wondered if I am one of those people diseased of seasickness. The assumption comes from the fact that I do suffer from motion sickness. But I have never had the opportunity to be on sea or any other water body long enough to feel sick. Today, I found out the truth as I took a boat ride on the mighty Bosophorous. The Bosophorus is a natural strait that separates the European and Asian parts of Turkey. As a country, Turkey already is at a geographically rare position and is often categorised as Eurasia. The Bosphorous adds to that charm. As you cruise through the water, the waves and the wind, you try and make sense of lines, borders, separations and rigid categories that we create about people, places and the planet.

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The Turkish flag flies high. As viewed from the boat #nofilters

As I stepped on the boat, I felt my body shivering. Partly because of the wind but mostly because of the constant moving of the boat hit by waves whose velocity is always unpredictable. My traveller friend and I narrowed down to a 1 hour boat ride and even before the boat had begun sailing, I was wondering if it’s too long a time to be away from land. As the boat breathed to motion, I tried to focus my attention on the rarity of the blueness that surrounded me. The wind lets you forget your sickness. In fact, there are several distracting seagulls that divert your mind.

I am not an avid bird watcher. My knowledge and interest is limited to the pigeons, crows and sparrows around me back home. In fact, up until today, I had never seen a sea gull before. As they flew closer to the boat, perhaps gazing at us just as we did, I realised just how majestic they were, too. A perfect and most appropriate fauna to surround the mighty Bosphorus. Flying high, then low, then walking on the surface of the water and finally sitting on it like a natural duck, the sea gulls fascinated me too. Perhaps they are the best symbols of nostalgia. I say this after being reminded of yesterday’s visit to the Museum of Innocence, where Kemal associated kissing with “visions of a mother seagull putting food into her impatient chicks’ open beaks” as well as “of a seagull gently holding a fig in its beak”: a visual that stayed with me, much like everything else. And what is desire if it doesn’t evoke a sense of nostalgia?

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Seagulls are hard to photograph, especially with a camera phone, but the most common thing you will see and hear in Istanbul.

The sea. The water. The wind. These are objects I associate my idea and perception of nostalgia with. They also bring the deepest contemplation in me as I admire and bow before the mightiness of water. One hour, really, wasn’t that long (although I was beginning to feel a sense of land anxiety as we were nearing the end of the tour) and I soaked in as much of the experience as I could. The sound of the seagulls fill the night, as I type this. They seem to be echoing my thoughts. Or perhaps paving way for new ones. Whatever they may be, I continue to be mesmerised in the nostalgic land of Istanbul.

Orgasmic blush


Shopping for groceries
with someone you love
Smelling the froth of
freshly brewed café au lait
Watching a couple embracing
in the misty fog
Reading the lines of a book
that was recommended by a lover
Rereading your lover’s old
letter and poems
Being kissed by the sun on a
particularly cold morning
Discovering a crumpled note in an old, discarded,
unwashed pair of jeans
Striking off a pending task
from your to-do list
Burning the mouth while eating
coz it just tastes so darn good!
Catching up on a conversation with an old friend
just from where we last left
Recalling the lyrics of an old song that had
gotten lost in the memory lanes
Seeing your mother smile
as you make a fresh, new cooking mistake
Looking at your reflection on the mirror
as you apply cherry red lipstick

Photography by Aimee NG

Photography by Aimee NG

What I Don’t Want


I don’t want gifts on specific occasions that you mark on your calendar. No birthdays, anniversaries, couple days, valentine’s day, lover’s day, women’s days. I don’t want you to be subscribing to the cliché.

I don’t want you telling me my that my cleavage is showing. Or that I need to show some cleavage. Or that my legs are unwaxed. Or that my lipstick colour is too “out there”. I don’t want you to be telling me what suits my body and what doesn’t. Sure, I want your opinion. Sure, your views matter to me. But I don’t want you to be my moral police. I don’t want unasked and destructive criticism.

I don’t want you to be writing poetry about my perfect eyes, my perfect lips, my perfect breasts, my perfect waist. My body isn’t perfect. Neither am I. And nor are you. I don’t want a perfect life with you. It doesn’t exist. And I don’t want to be chasing something that does not exist.

There will be times when I wouldn’t want to drink with you. I don’t want to dance a dance with you. I don’t want to dine with you. I don’t want to go to a club wearing “appropriate clothes”. There might be days when I wouldn’t want to be accompanying you anywhere. And that ought to be okay. I don’t want you to be clinging on to me every single time. I have a life. With you. And without you, too.

I don’t want to spend sleepless nights apart wondering what the hell did I do wrong. I don’t want to reach that stage of our relationship where I spend every night making a list of things that could have happened differently if only.…
I don’t want to think about the “If only…” scenario. I don’t want unfinished sentences. I don’t want those three dots at the end of an unwanted thought.

I don’t want to spend mornings craving for a fuck. And blaming my PMS for my unpredictable cravings. I don’t want to blame my vagina or my uterus for my mood swings.

I don’t want to stare at the ceiling and count the cracks on the wall while you are busy working.

I don’t want to hear your rants about life being unsatisfactory, especially when you claim I am a significant part of it.

I don’t want you to be thinking I have too many wants. And if you do, I don’t want to care that you think so.

I don’t want to justify why I wrote this.

What I Want

What I Want


I want to spend the day weaving words with you. I don’t care if they are gigantic words like “procrastinate” or tiny ones like “too”. I don’t care if they are long sentences or empty and incomplete phrases. We must weave words together. Words sprayed randomly across pages in different colours and moods. 

I want to hear the gossip at your workplace. I have bored you enough with my work stories; I now desire to hear yours. Who is pregnant? Who is dating whom? Who is likely to get a promotion? When is the next appraisal? I want to hear about it all.

I want to eat a dish cooked by you. I want to witness how you prepare to make it. I want to see you in a bright coloured apron and see you grin at me as you wipe tears from your eyes while chopping onions. I want to see you work doubly hard on garnishing the dish that you make. And I want to see the eagerness in your eyes as I take the first bite.

I want our house to be never lacking of fresh fruits and vegetables. I want to see you bargain at the grocery store as you pick and choose items for our kitchen.

I want to have never-ending discussions around topics that irk you and me. I want to engage in a debate where we lay bare our politics and grapple with it. 

I want to argue with you on mundane and everyday things: which earring to wear, which jacket to buy, which book to donate, which book to keep, which biscuit to buy, what kind of milk to purchase everyday, which song to hum and whose turn is it to clean the toilet today.

I want to sing a song we both like under a hot shower. 

I want to write an ode to the white hair on your chin beard. And read it out to you in bed.

I want to hear you moan more often. Louder. Longer. Sharper. And I want to be the cause for the moans.

I want to be hugged and held in bed every single night that we spend together. Until we naturally drift apart.

I want to kiss you till eternity. And never find a reason to stop.

Inspired from this post.

Read What I Don’t Want

A broken shadow


I smile like a lovesick moron every-time I read you.

Imagining yours when you read me.

Not what I write. But me.

My face. My body. My memories. My thoughts.

The smile vanishes soon.

Because your letter seems to say something else.

Perhaps I understood it all wrong.

Yes, it is my fault

that I felt you could…

But the letter was imaginary

The one I weaved in my heart

To quench my irrational desire

To answer my uncontrollable curiosity

To create a fictional possibility

And you always stood there

Nothing but a broken shadow

Poem dedicated to a former crush and to everyone who’s had a crush someday

Simile


Like the kajal loves the eye on which it spreads

Like the little kid loves the green balloon 

Like the employed woman  loves her salary

Like the unemployed man loves a new opportunity

Like the health freak loves salad

Like the eagle loves its flight*

Like the rabbit loves fresh carrots*

 

Like the dry mud loves its wetness when it rains

Like the sun loves the rainbow

Like the fire loves light

Like the river loves the sea with which it unites

 

Like the cook loves his spatula 

Like the guitarist loves the strings

Like the naughty girl loves her pranks

 

Like the washing machine loves detergent

Like the library loves books

Like the opera house loves melody

Like New York loves the ‘New’ in front of its ‘York’

 

Like the moon loves darkness

 

Yes, I love you too.

 

*Borrowed thoughts