And he said… “If you’ve not been to Istanbul, you don’t know what you’re missing…”

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It appears for me that the tenacity of writing beckons in a new way.

I have lived out of a suitcase for the last two months and must now try and finish at least one book project, before I travel again in July.  I have so many stories to tell but need to clear my mind to do this.  I have to try and rediscover my own words…remember what it was like to settle in a gloriously empty room and compose poetry, infinitely haunting as the thought may be. So often, an encounter with a solitary space breeds an extraordinary energy, sometimes surreal and sometimes tearful.

My own thoughts currently feel like a prism and the sparkles no longer  hurt by the thought of any cultural city, clutching at my footsteps.  I walk in Dublin this last week as if I never left.  In East Africa, I moved as if, it was my first time back in nine days and not nine months. In London on an adjoining road caught between the Hammersmith train stations, a Turkish cafe owner, still waxes lyrical about the Black Sea and whips me fresh salads in the way I like them.  These endeavours are sealed by his forever mantra… “If you’ve not been to Istanbul, you don’t know what you’re missing…”  And then in Singapore, I had rushed with expectant bliss to a bookshop on Orchard Road, remembering its seductive capacity for world literature. And even in Malaysia, the Bangladeshi restaurateurs ask why I’ve not been  to pack  my usual Nescafe takeways.  They hint at my sinful absence. And so and so…

I am trying to unravel all the reams of storybook material in my head and willing myself to talk at ease about the books I’ve read and the films I have watched. In my head, I’m still on a flight so here’s another picture for the meanwhile.

A young Masai poses shyly for me in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, East Africa. April 2012. Photography © copyright Susan Abraham

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