I have quit!!!
I-have-quit… Not the bad habits, smoking, drinking, gambling, night life, partner or kids. They were non-existent anyway. I have quit: slavery, the work life which kills your humanity and turns your existence into nothingness, the civil service that puts whoever it captures into the same mould, and those who create unprecedented problems with their small world in huge egos.
I knew very many things from the balance of the economic indicators to problems in the health system, from the losses in the agricultural sector to helicopter names, from how to write the Ottoman phrases to head of the state of that and that country, from the problems of the jujitsu sportsmen to those of stateless people, from LIBOR to the causes of recession or the consonants in the word Maastricht, but I somewhat could not bring all of them together. My brain turned into a trash full of knowledge. On top of all, none of them were the sort that would have save my life if I were in a deserted island. One night, it was the millionth time that I I was once again walking down the stairs of my workplace late at night, that it occurred to me again, as it always does: “I have washed an elephant, what am I doing here!”
I disposed of my belongings, clothes, shoes, cutlery and everything. I sold off my marriage portions. Don’t tell my mother! I leased out my home furnished, quit my job, booked a flight. One way!
I freed myself from the dependence of commodity some years ago already. You will be surprised maybe, but as a woman, I have not been shopping for years. I was on a regular and a remarkable salary, a wardrobe full of clothes but still, I was not free. I saw myself as a slave to the system. What is the point of wearing different clothes everyday, when my mind is far far away, living a life that does not belong to me! Now I want to live in 5 t-shirts, 5 shorts and 5 dresses. I can never give up on dresses, maybe add a pair of heels? From now on, I only want to think what to eat for dinner and where to go next morning. My monthly income will be much, much lower, but my life standards will rise. Because I will watch the sunrise and sunset, get mesmerized every single day. Staring at the milky way, I will be amazed by realizing how shiny the millions of stars look in the sky. I will eat the fish that was off the sea just half an hour ago. I will be a survivor, climbing the coconut tree, and of course, falling down. I will also sell my humble blue car, which I have been driving for 13 years. I have made long long journeys with it too in Turkey.
Whether you live in a mansion house, or drive a Ferrari, as soon as you go out on the streets, you are living with the standards of the street. You are still exposed to the harassment of the rascals. Right hand on the steering wheel, foot on the gas, you stretch your hand to spray this pepper gas through the open window of the car that tries to get you out of the way.
That kind of system that deprives people, kills our soul and obliges us to comply with their tyranny is the same in every country. I might have as well been assigned to New York, Sao Paolo, Sydney or Cambodia, could have found a job, or might have as well got married and settled down. But, I was still going to work for eleven months to pay the bills and go on to a holiday for a month. Then what difference does it make to be in Ankara, Moscow, Toronto, Tashkent, Miami or Nigeria. These are not what the notions of “working” and “living” should correspond to, it should instead correspond to the “production.”
Well, what have I been doing in the last 23 years? I have waited, waited and waited patiently dreaming about the day I would free myself from the slavery. I was awarded with the Nobel Patience Prize. I have put up with: those who are selfish, thinking they rule the world but in reality totally unaware of the it, those who are seized by ambition, who are courageous(!) enough to tell lies easily, those who strive to be respected for holding the top positions they have, instead of making the positions respected with their personality, yet which they still utterly fail; those who make evil an everyday practice (and so the list goes on), I have put up with a lot of nonsense, day and night, in an environment stressful by nature, not for 8 hours only, sometimes 38 hours, the next day and the next day… The last figure you read is true, has been experienced numerous time in the last 23 years. I know a lot of you say “me too”, and I congratulate the lucky minority who does not.
I have witnessed the damages given to their work by those who show off by saying “I love my job, I would do it too if I was born again”, and how terrible actually they do their work. Professionalism, this love for authority, competition, fighting, insults, insidious psychological harassment, ambition, normalization of at least 15 hours of work a day. “Modern life”, “as a requirement of the job”, “that is life”, “that is the nature of this job, what shall we do?”, “you accepted it like this”, “be grateful”, “race yourself…” Why? Because that 80 families holding the 80% of the world gross profit should get richer and own the rest of the world.
Do you wonder what was my job? I do not remember!
I have spent business years by embracing my family and friends, whom I do love without having to tolerate, and by thinking about the 15th of every month, the salary day. I spend my annual leaves or public holidays by organizing trips in or outside Turkey. I have travelled to a new country and learned about yet another culture with the amount of money that people spend on five-star luxury resort. I became richer. Those who rely on alibis like kids, partner, loan on the other hand turned back having consumed crazily, exhausted, swollen and poorer.
What did I do while they were lining up on the open buffets?
Travelled on top of a bus, screaming, with a Nepalese friends, with whom I just met one hours ago.
Ate bread, lentil soup, watermelon with the monks in a monastery in Tibet.
Climbed up to 5.220 meters of Everest, was left breathless in every single step I took. I found out by experience that the mountain climbing is the hardest sport.
Took selfies with a wild yak.
Served Turkish delight to a bus full of Americans, European, Australian at the Nepal-Tibet border. They thought I was a steward, we laughed.
I saw the collapse of 60 meters high Perito Moreno glaciers. The breaking sound it made had shaken my rib cage, as I was on a boat only a few hundred meters away.
I walked in my giant track spikes over the Viedma glacier, at the end of which I drank a coffee liquorice with a piece of real glacier in it.
I hopped on a rickshaw in Kathmandu, hopped off in five minutes and pushed it up the hill with its driver.
I went under the Iguazu waterfalls with a boat, felt the power of the water by soaking up to my boned.
Had a turtle soup in Jakarta, regretted not having Kopi Luwak (cat shit) coffee.
On the way back from a fancy tango dinner in Buenos Aires, I saw dozens of houses, the only property of which were plain blankets. I felt thankful for what I had.
A butterfly landed on my shoulder in Iguazu.
I saw families living in tinny neighbourhoods in Jakarta, children playing in the sewage puddles. I felt thankful for what I had.
A butterfly landed on my nose in Iguazu.
I saw huge satellite antennas on the roofs of the house in Şemdinli villages, with the latest models of luxury cars. I felt furious that the women were still had to carry huge bottles of water at their back despite all these.
A butterfly landed on my hair in Iguazu.
I sold hats in Santa Monica Pier right next to a police station.
I sat and watched an avalanche falling down from a mountain across in every three minutes in Patagonia. I never forgot that sound and the view.
A fish bite me by the leg in Fethiye, before even starting with my first scuba diving experience, saying “Welcome dear human guest, I am the host fish. You can wander around and leave without giving any harm”, and leaving its three deep teeth marks on me.
I ordered a bunch of weird looking fruits at a fresh juice counter in Pokhara. The seller peeled the fruits with his coal black dirty hands, squeezed them and passed me the glass. While hesitating whether or not to take it, I couldn’t say no after seeing the nervousness and curiosity in his eyes, and drank it. He stayed still until I had finished. When I nodded implying that I found it really delicious, he looked relaxed and happy. He was proud that his work was appreciated. He left the spark and joy in his eyes as a souvenir to me.
The sailboat I was in broached during a boat race in Bodrum. Those sails that had to reach to the sky laid on the sea, as the boat laid with 90 degrees angle to the sea. While my body was swinging in the air like a flag, my teammate saved me from falling into the sea in the month of January in the last minute grabbing me by the arm. Had I fallen, I would probably have had a hypothermia and died in 15 minutes.
A butterfly landed on my hand in Iguazu.
Thanks to the Uighur Turk Abdulla (without h), who makes shish kebab in a Lhasa street, I had a three days of feast of eating. And spoke Turkish the first time after weeks, my tongue had feast.
I dove the underwater heaven in Sharm el Sheikh. I was left on my own in the 20th meter of the reef wall that goes all the way to 3.000 meters, for 15 minutes! I resisted to the strong current by the holes I could hold only with my fingers. I watched the endless blueness that surrounds me having stunned. I felt the sense of “nothingness” and never forgot that feeling.
I went to Fin del Mundo (The End of the World), walked with the sea bears, seals and penguins.
I paid $150 for a dinner at a Brazilian steak restaurant in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. It was so delicious.
In Dhulikhel-Nepal I had a veggie spaghetti for 50 cents at a restaurant with many flies and greasiness, which you would not even be able to enter. It was so delicious.
I was caught by an Argentine TV in Buenos Aires Airport while I was sitting by the wall and putting on my nail polish, and appeared on a newspaper the next day.
I visited the house of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in Valparaiso. He could fit a fun, playful, cheerful and colourful dream into a space of four walls.
I stayed at many-starred Eiffel in Las Vegas, visited the casinos of the design and imitation wonderland hotels. I ended up being one of the rare people on this earth that came back from Las Vegas without gambling.
I stayed inside a wooden hut in a forest surrounded by tigers, with no electricity, for three nights. My sleeps were accompanied by the sounds of walking mouses on the roof.
I watched an endangered single-horned rhinoceros having a mud bath. I was at the top of an elephant in the meanwhile.
I saw death bodies being burned on a river, the same river where people washed themselves.
A butterfly landed on my brows in Iguazu.
I found myself in a cave full of bats while I was looking for where that road was leading to.
I listened to Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ, in Malula.
I jumped rope together with the children in the courtyard of a Syriac Church in Mardin.
I was stunned when I saw the phallus pictures on the walls of houses in Bhutan. It turned out that for them it was what evil eye is to us. It was believed that it both protects the house from evil and brings blessing.
Among hundreds of hot girls in their bikinis on California beaches, I looked so conservative with my long-sleeved, flower patterned maxi dress. And I got countless compliments from American men, felt spoiled.
I went to Kars by train on a snowy winter day. During a few-minutes stopover in Erzurum, I grabbed a cağ kebab, ordered hours ago, and ate it at the compartment without getting off the train.
I sneaked into the fancy Indian wedding in the ballroom of the hotel I stayed in Jakarta, despite the security at the gate. I was kindly kicked off after being noticed one hour later.
I played with an elephant in Chitwan National Park, washed it, cuddled it, kissed it. I felt sorry for it lived under coercion. But I felt particularly sorry for those who had been exploited and impoverished, having to entertain the tourists to feed their children.
I photographed the little boys playing in the courtyard of the Syria’s beautiful Umayyad Mosque, which does no longer exist. Where are they now, are they still alive?
Blue butterflies flew in Iguazu.
I giggled with the shy little Syrian girls in Palmyra, whose 3.000-year-old works were bombed and destroyed in a few hours. I wonder how many of those girls in the photo are still alive.
Pink butterflies flew in Iguazu.
I walked the Lycian Way, once more I admired my country.
I stayed in a Buddhist monastery on a mountain with Kathmandu view for three nights.
I wore hijab during my Mosque visit in Iran.
I prayed together with the Uighur Turks in a mosque in Lhasa.
I prayed with the Christians in the churches, with the Jews in synagogues, with the Buddhists in the monasteries.
I realized that some atheists had way more values than some believers, I prayed for them too.
I fell in love with the Sydney in El Calafete at first sight.
A butterfly landed on my heart in Iguazu.
I had a hot lava stone shower in the garden of a house in Bhutan.
I was elbowed over my chest by big woman who tried to open up space for herself at Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque in Damascus. I had a laugh attack out of pain and anger in the mosque, where the slightest whisper is enough to be slapped with stick from your head. I run away by hiding under the black hijab I was wearing.
I was hosted by world-touring Uzaklar in Buenos Aires, felt proud. I had a picnic with Osman and Sibel, the first ever Turks who crossed Cape Horn with a sailboat.
I was caught in the rain while jumping bare foot in Kyzylkum Desert. Rain in a desert!
I got lost many times, and each time I found my way.
I cannot wait:
To get lost again,
To miss the train,
To perform weird gestures in order to express myself with the body language,
To travel on the edges of a cliff in an old bus from the second world war era,
To be fascinated,
To get cold, sweat, tired, exhausted, scared, die out of hunger and thirst,
To look forward to, long for, get excited,
To be on a tight budget,
To be thankful seeing the traces of poverty and war,
To feel hopeful seeing massive number of good people,
To talk in different languages with a Chinese traveller and pretend we understood each other,
To get the answer instantly by experiencing after asking to myself “What the hell am I doing here”,
To model for the photographer travellers,
To laugh at the same things with people I speak different languages,
To talk inappropriate because of my accent while speaking in English but still get the compliments,
To taste seemingly disgusting food,
I cannot wait to be surprised, to touch, to jump.
I have saved invaluable memories in my heart, my mind and my soul. I became memory to someone else’s lives too. I am so lucky. I am one of the richest people in the world.
Then, what did you do?
You changed your sofas for the new ones!