Jet Lag

by wjw on April 16, 2006

I’m back from Turkey. The solar eclipse was amaaaaazing, and probably the most staggering cosmic event I ever hope to see. (Anything more staggering would probably involve large asteroids hitting the Earth.)

But I’ve seen a lot more than a solar eclipse. I’ve seen the Dervishes whirl. I’ve flown in a balloon over the lunar landscape of Cappadocia. I’ve seen Our Lady of Ephesus, one of the genuine Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. I’ve participated in a raki-fueled dancing orgy around a blazing bonfire. I’ve walked on 2000-year-old mosaics, seen a 9000-year-old idol, and seen part of the stone from the Kaaba. I’ve met the World’s Greatest Carpet Salesman (and of course bought a carpet). I’ve been in the harem of the Ottoman sultan— well, actually two harems. I’ve seen mosques, mosaics, and muezzins. I’ve even seen the Prophet’s beard.

I’ve seen so much, in fact, that I’ll have to wait for the pictures to remember it all. Jet lag does that to me.

More anon, when there’s time.

Maureen McHugh April 17, 2006 at 3:51 am

Yay for solar eclipses! Ya for Dervishes! We shall pass in silence over the idea of harem.

Glad you’re back.

Ling April 17, 2006 at 2:14 pm

Sounds like you had a lovely trip. Can’t wait for pictures!

S.M. Stirling April 17, 2006 at 9:51 pm

Glad to hear you had a good time, Walter. Did you _worship_ the 9000-year-old idol, though? 8-).

The world’s greatest carpet _buyer_ was my mother. Watching her ruthlessly beat down an Arab dhow captain in the Old Town in Mombasa in 1966 was an experience to remember — she threatened to leave about 6 times. We got a very nice Shiraz out of it — I still have it.

dubjay April 17, 2006 at 11:29 pm

Don’t sweat the harem, Maureen. The last inmate left in 1909.

Though for that matter the harem had its compensations. During the middle ages, the harem was the only institution by which women were educated. (The sultan didn’t want to spend his private time with dummies.) So the women were taught to read and write, sing and play instruments, and divers other accomplishments. They were paid a salary. Generally they were “retired” age 28-30 or so, and either married courtiers or invested their savings in a business.

The harem was also run by a woman— the sultan’s mother. She chose her son’s partners. I have to wonder what’s the point of being Lord of All You Survey if your mother gets to decide who you have sex with?

As far as bargaining for rugs or whatever goes, threatening to leave seems to work really well, though the unwritten rule is that you can’t leave after you’ve actually made an offer. So we’d just look dubious, and they’d lower the price, and Kathy would say, “Walter, let’s go,” and they’d lower the price a lot, and then I’d say something like “How much for three?” and the price would drop again.

Laurie April 22, 2006 at 5:01 pm

Total exclipses are incredible, but I feel a bit more blase about them. There were something like four total or near-total eclipses in the northeast US between about 1962 and 1994. I saw most of one of them, which was very eerie. But I always find the photos from Hubble to be much more mind-blowing than watching a total eclipse live (even if I never see another one in real life).

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