OF NEW BEGINNINGS

“And suddenly you know, it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

Fresh starts. Beginnings. The first day. Orientation. New life.

I think there is a little part inside us that always craves for hope, to start anew. So, I have been saying how I am settled in Istanbul now for my MBA in Luxury Brand Management at IFA Paris, studying at the Kadir Has University here. I will be here for six months before moving onto Paris for a year as a part of the course program.

I have had a little problem to figure my way around initially but since the time I have had Akshita, my classmate and roommate from Bangalore, move in with me here, I have had some good company and its much easier to figure things out when you have someone at your end. Even getting lost can be okay sometimes as long as you are not alone.

So, I have only had one day of class so far which was very interesting. I always like when I am well prepared and I am able to answer any questions thrown at me, knowing that I am very competitive and I struck a good chord with my Professor Catherine then and there. We spoke a lot about the cult of emerging luxury markets and details about the same, while realising the whole time that I had really studied a lot as a graduation student back in Symbiosis when we had Fashion Brand Management classes. I aced it.

Moving on, we had our orientation yesterday, which was very interesting. We are a small bunch of students here who chose the Istanbul program, rest are in Shanghai and Paris at the moment so we obviously see everyone and become an entire batch when we are in Paris next year.  After the introductions and going through the technicalities and know-hows of college life and how it would be for the next six months, our coordinator decided to take us out for welcome drinks.

We took a bus near Taksim , a really popular tourist district here which is both near to where I live and the university. After a brisk walk, we came in front of the Galata towers which is extremely famous and a must see. Right opposite the Galata Towers is a place called Sensus Wine Boutique. Needless to mention, that it was a beautiful aesthetic place and I felt like I had walked into one of those modernised wine cellars where vintage meets modernity.

What can I say, it seemed like the perfect marriage of the past and the present. Small tables with candles, the aroma of wine and cheese, and a piano where live music would soon take over, it was a very nostalgic and cozy place, it transported me to a mood which I would have honestly enjoyed sitting alone with my glass of some really good wine. I think I have this problem where I need to put up a social exterior to talk to people whereas I would be honestly enjoying the voice of the old man singing Roberta Flack’s Killing me Softly on the piano and having my cheese and just enjoy my company. Now, I know that would make me antisocial and to a certain extent I feel I am but I have been doing well in keeping up the tempo of socializing.

There are three of us from India, one from Indonesia and one from South Africa. We all come from diverse backgrounds, and experiences but while sitting at the table with our glasses, all we were reminiscing majorly about was home, excluding me. Reflecting on the conversation I think home for me are just my parents who I carry in my heart no matter where I would live.

The art of detachment is crucial and so is the habit of adaptation. Missing my rice and fish curry is an obvious but I am also realising learning and mixing with a culture is as important as knowing your roots. You will always miss your roots because that is where you were nurtured but as you grow older, you have to start accepting that your roots are something you carry with you everywhere you go. Change is the only constant and at every moment you are a different person showing certain aspects of your personality, trying to fit in. At the table, looking around Akshita, Karishma, Tshepiso and Ismail, I couldn’t help but wonder about how little we had in common when it came to everyone’s opinions but how sometimes we still tend to be together despite our differences. I realise that people miss home and they try to make a home out of every place they go to. But there are certain aspects about humanity and human beings that are so universal, be it India, Istanbul or South Africa, human emotions are a constant.

In this race and chase of trying to establish our identities, starting fresh and new beginnings, what if we realise it is not the fresh start that matters at all? What if men will always have their biased opinions irrespective of changes and modernisation and we will always be stereotyped as women have been for years ? I think there are these characteristics that I see in men here too in Istanbul, the point of self-glorification and the need to always prove their mettle because of their respective gender is real.

So ultimately, roots are not connected to where you belong to, you see your real roots are what you have been formed into, how you have moulded yourself and can you really break free from the patriarchal mindsets that are so prevalent universally? We play along, sure, but when out of everyone at the table you take a moment back and observe, you understand in people’s reactions and stories who they really are, it gives away more than you can imagine. You can always project an illusion of being social but you know it’s only an illusion because in your head, you are reading everyone and understanding how similar we all are at the end of the day, despite the differences.

Also, the bartenders were very cute. I got a lot of pretty smiles and come again next time statements and well we know there are always next times, but should we wait and see how this story pans out for the next six months?

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Shot on Iphone7plus

IT HAS BEEN 20 DAYS

“And in the end, we were all just humans, drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness.”

― Christopher Poindexter, Naked Human

It has been 20 days since I left home. It has been twenty days since I realised a few things and understood that every place can get a little lonely sometimes. It has been twenty days since I have started to settle in after moving quite a bit.

From India, to a hotel, to a home in the heart of Istanbul to a new house overlooking the Bosphorus Strait, it has been a whirlwind twenty days. It has been twenty days of learning about people, what distance does to the heart and who all end up being important. Its twenty days of shifting in, settling in, making strangers out of friends and friends out of strangers.

It has been twenty days of figuring out roads, language, signs, learning how to salvage some meals, and handle relations. It has been twenty days of understanding people for whom distance is not a factor and some relations are always meant to stay.It has been twenty days of understanding the value of family and how much we sometime take them for granted because we always have it so easy.

It has been twenty days since the last time I thought about the person I once loved, even though I missed him every minute of every day, but it is also the realisation that sometimes you can miss someone you love without being loved back and it is okay. Bad relationships are as important in life as good relationships. And sometimes, the people you love the most hurt you the most and you have to come to peace with it and remember that forgiveness is not for the weak.

You have to train your heart like a lion, you have to fight and you have to lose sometimes too to understand what a win feels like. And most importantly, you have to be strong to learn to let go because sometimes, that almost kills you but in the process when you look back on that moment, you will thank yourself for choosing yourself over everything.

I have been meeting a lot of strangers on the road when i ask them for some help or directions even when Google fails, and I can assure you that not everyone is bad, not all people are monsters and not everyone will take advantage of you.

I remember a few days back, it was a very hot summer afternoon. In Istanbul, most part of the old city does not have fans or lifts. So after having adjusted to climbing six floors everyday because the view was to kill for, I still couldn’t adjust to the absence of fans. It was one of the hottest days in the city, and after having grudgingly requested for a standing fan, I decided to just go out and get one for myself.

I left the house in the morning, after having crossed a few shops I asked a couple of old people by showing them a photo of the fan i wanted to buy and translating on Google as to where I could buy one. After some cacophony of discussions and directions pointed out, I was offered to be taken by a slightly older gentleman. He seemed to be of a gentle disposition, so clutching on to my bag and understanding that he meant to take me to his friends electronic shop down the road, I embarked on the journey.

What did I do here? I had to put out my faith and trust on the universe, I just had to hold onto the belief that nothing wrong was going to happen and I was having a good start to a day with strangers being kind. And boy was i right! Not only did the fine old fellow help me get a fan, he also got it for me at a discount realising that I was a student. After that he dropped me right at my building which was a few blocks away, and I carried the fan on my shoulders all the way to the sixth floor.

It was a long flight of stairs but the thought that humanity still existed amidst all our problems in life, amidst all the broken dreams, failed promises and love gone wrong, that sometimes people help you without any motive, that is something that takes a while for us to accept.

Isn’t life funny where we are always thinking first of the negative situations that can arise or what can go wrong? We are focusing so much on the stories that didn’t work out and the kiss that wasn’t good, or the shoe that broke, that against all our best efforts, we don’t focus for one second on the possibility that if we did put out good thoughts and positivity, things might turn out not to be that disappointing.

In this constant battle of faith and doubt we let doubt win too often, forgetting that doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.

So, let go. Sometimes, the relationships that are meant to stay and thrive will do so despite distances and sometimes, when people want to leave your life, remember that their chapter in your book was a story that had to come to an end some or the other time.

It has been twenty days of a little more growing up as a 23-year-old adult. It has been twenty days of letting faith win over constant doubts and distance. It has just been twenty days.

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Shot on iPhone 7 plus

ISTANBUL-OF THE PAST&PRESENT

I have been in this city since Monday now, after 24 hours of travel from Pune, and I am so glad to have completely fallen in love with this country, of whatever little I have seen in these two days. The weather, the people, the whole culture, Istanbul seems to be the perfect marriage of its past and present, of the old and the new. The city of Istanbul is important to geography because it has a long history that spans the rise and fall of the world’s most famous empires. Built by emperors and buried by emperors too many times, the city stands on the ruins of its past, glorifying the history of the present. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, located on the Bosporus Strait it covers the entire area of the Golden Horn – a natural harbor. Because of its size, Istanbul extends into both Europe and Asia. The city is the world’s only metropolis to extend into more than one continent.

Due to its participation in these empires, Istanbul has also undergone various name changes throughout its lengthy history.

HISTORY OF ISTANBUL IN BRIEF

BYZANTIUM ERA – THE ROMAN EMPIRE (330-395 CE)-THE BYZANTINE (EASTERN ROMAN) EMPIRE (395-1204 AND 1261-1453 CE)-THE LATIN EMPIRE (1204-1261)-THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE (1453-1922)-THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY (1923-TODAY)

Also known as the European Capital of Culture because of its melting pot of populace and various religions as well as culture, Istanbul maintains that fine distinguishing line that let’s a traveller understand the many mysteries and tales that this city hides. Since my hotel is located at the heart of European side of Istanbul, at Gülhane Park, I decided to take a trip to the very very famous Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

After having a brilliant breakfast, I strolled out, taking in the beautiful breeze and the good looking men. After about 600meters, I reached my first destination.

HAGIA SOPHIA

One of the most mysterious and extremely written about monuments in the city’s history, the Hagia Sophia survived earthquakes, religious power struggles, and has been a church (basilica), a mosque and is now a museum. It is known as the Ayasofya in Turkish, and was dedicated to the Wisdom (Sophia) of God. There were once two more churches that were regarded as “Churches of Divine Wisdom” but the Hagia Sophia is the last that remains.

From the time of its construction between 532 and 537 AD, on the orders of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, through to 1453 AD, the Hagia Sophia served as a cathedral for the Eastern Orthodox Church. However, Constantinople, as Istanbul was once called, was conquered by the Ottoman Turks at this time, and the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque by order of Sultan Mehmed II. Relics such as the shroud of Mary, nails from the true cross and the tombstone of Jesus were some of its treasures, until the city was ransacked during the Fourth crusade. It remained in use as a mosque until as recently as 1931, when it was closed down for four years to be reopened as a museum in 1935 by the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

When I entered the monument, I was not only transported to a different time, but I could also decipher the existence of two most primary religion. While the Islamic sanctions remains, right above the structure is Virgin Mary, holding baby Jesus, protected by Archangels Gabriel and Michael. Also, guarding above the door are two angels, guardians of the heaven. As one enters, one sees the ceiling that was built at a height so high that it was supposedly a doorway to heaven.  Apart that, there are a couple of tombstones that one can see around the monuments, and one of the largest baptism area that Istanbul had in those days. As Hagia Sophia maintains the balance between the two religious powers, I couldn’t help but wonder how difficult was it for humanity to co-exist so peacefully?

THE BLUE MOSQUE / SULTANAHMET MOSQUE

Istanbul’s Blue Mosque is also known as Sultanahmet Mosque, named after Sultan Ahmet I who wished to build an Islamic place of worship that would compete with the Hagia Sophia. The two places of worship now stand side by side for visitors to judge which is the more extraordinary of the architectural marvels. Mosques traditionally have one, two or four minarets. What makes the Blue Mosque unique as it boasts six minarets. Although the main west entrance is far grander than the north entrance, non-worshippers are asked to use the north entrance, like I was, to keep the mosque’s sacredness intact. The Blue Mosque’s interior is lit with two hundred and sixty windows which were once filled with stained glass of the seventeenth century. Unfortunately they have been lost and replaced with replicas far more inferior. The mosque’s interior has 20,000 blue tiles that line its high ceiling. The oldest of these tiles feature flowers, trees and abstract patterns that make them fine examples of sixteenth century Iznik design.

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Shot on Iphone7plus