Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Last weekend was my wedding anniversary.  It has been 12 years. Wow.  As we all know, time flies.  I am lucky I have such a great husband and such a great, sometimes stranger-than-fiction life with him.

I think it all started with our first dance at our wedding…or maybe before.  We did live together a few years before that.  Me, not intending to marry.  He, thinking it was the right thing to do.  It just did not seem right to refuse his proposal when I had already moved across the world with him and we had been  shackin’ up for the previous two years.

I wanted the short and sweet wedding. He wanted a “Big Texas Wedding”.  Knowing that planning a wedding abroad would be insane in a country where you have to reserve everything at least one year in advance; and in an attempt to con our friends into visiting one of the coolest places on earth, we agreed to have the BIG party in Istanbul.  This was actually in July, the summer after we were legally married in September, but that’s another story.

In retrospect, it was a great celebration and I am glad we did it.  We were also so pleased that 30 or so guests travelled to join us.  It was a week of a wedding - so much that I had no voice at vow time.

We chose a great song for our first dance.  What a Wonderful World.  When we met the dj and he inquired about our preferred version, we told him we were okay with either.  After all, such a beautiful song would be great in any arrangement.  Right?

Come show time the music began…. “Don’t know much about history… Don’t know much biology…”  WTH?!   Where were our “trees of green” and “red roses too?”  At that moment, we learned there were two songs with this name.  While we anticipated the Louis Armstrong version, or at least that song and lyrics, we ended up with the 1958 Sam Cooke song by the same name!  A song about a guy trying to win the love of a girl!  A moment that I am quite sure we passed long before our wedding.

Our first dance
One of my bridesmaids who knew what the song was supposed to be leaned over to me and whispered “That’s what makes it memorable”.  Not wanting to make a scene, we rolled with it - or should I say Sarper encouraged me to keep dancing.  So, just as we have two wedding anniversaries, we have two wedding songs.  Well, sort of. 

Fast track 12 years later.  Last week I started a local photography class.  Session One: drive into the desert to shoot night and sunrise images.   I had not met the instructor before, but he was the only local photographer I could find offering more than a beginner class.   He calls me the day before to see if I am ready to go.  Eagerly hoping to meet more people into photography I ask “How many other students?”.  None.  Just me.  

I am scheduled to meet a stranger at 1:00am and get in his car and drive into the desert with him for photography.  I am sure the guy is legit, and nice (and he is), but where I grew up you just don’t typically get in the car with strangers and if you do, you do not want to drive into the middle of nowhere.  When I learn this, I ask my husband if he would mind coming.  Without thinking twice about it, he is on board.

That night, after a local charity dinner, we run home to throw on something more appropriate for camping and head out to our agreed meeting place.  The instructor arrives late.  Unbeknown to us, his car is having some problems, so he asks if we can drive.  Of course we can.

Which direction?  Take the Al Ain road.  After about 30 or so minutes into the desert, my husband asks which exit he should take.  Keep going straight, we are going to Al Ain.  What??!!  Al Ain is a two hour drive from Dubai, near the Oman border.

It is beautiful and known for Jebel Hafeet, a mountain that is perfect to watch the sunrise.  Apparently this was a minor detail that was left out of the class agenda.

We arrive around 3:30am or so and my class began.  Sarper proceeded to roll out the yoga mat and take a nap.  The class and sunrise were great, but I did not sleep at all.  Sarper slept on the hard ground for only about two hours and then as soon as the sun was up, we proceeded to head back to Dubai because we had a full day ahead.

It was definitely not the night we expected, and our guy friends who have heard this story have all confirmed my husband must be crazy as there is absolutely no way they would do such a thing for their wives.

So thank you canim for being such a trooper.   I am forever grateful for your never-ending love and support.   How we find ourselves in these crazy situations I will never know, but I guess that is just what makes it memorable.

Sunrise at Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Beware of Pide!!!!

Wow.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been back less than a week now.  Work this week is full on.

I miss Istanbul.  I miss Turkey.  I miss walking through the city.  I miss the countryside, the weather and, and… and my gosh the food, dare I say.

Much to my surprise someone came up to me at work today and said “Girl, you’ve lost a lot of weight.  What did you do?”.  My response: “I went to Turkey and ate everything in sight”.  I also walked through the city every day.  No need for a car.  This is the difference in Dubai unfortunately.  But back to the food…

The food in Turkey is amazing. There are no words to describe it because you have to taste it for yourself.  I am not kidding – lick your plate worthy and get seconds. Technically, you don’t even need a plate because the produce is so amazing who needs to cook it!  - But that is another blog post.

Despite all that amazing rawness, there is a huge danger that I must warn you about if you ever visit Turkey during Ramadan.  It is a force much more powerful than you or me – it is called Pide.  Do not even try to conquer it.  It is impossible.

Fresh from the oven!
Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  Pide shows up around sunset and it is irresistible.  Pide is fresh bread that is only served at Ramadan with the Iftar meal at sunset for those who are breaking their fast.  I have yet to see it make any appearances at Dubai iftars.

Years ago I ruled out most carbs.  I am not training for anything, so I do not need all that bread.  But give me a fresh pide from the oven – bread fast is over as we know it.

We did not indulge too much when in the city (because we were too busy eating other things!) but be sure… at my mother-in-law’s we ate it every day.  You either go to the bakery, or firin, and stand in line with everyone else and wait.  Or, in the case of Şarköy, everyone would pick one up for everyone else.  As a result of all that neighborhood hospitality we were never without and even ended up with three fresh, hot pides one night.  One whole one for each of us!  I still do not know how people that are fasting are able to stand in line and smell that amazing bread, then walk home with it hot in their hands.  Yes, it is only the strength that can come from a much higher power.

The local firin in Şarköy
And you don’t just cut it and eat it.  If you are hard core, and as in our case (and not fasting) you break out the butter immediately as soon as you get home.  Forget about waiting for dinner because you will not be able to.  I would bet money on it.  After eating some of the best bread you will ever have in your life - hot, butter melted just right - you can then enjoy some more with dinner.

If you do not finish it off for dinner, then you can heat it up in the toaster for breakfast. It is amazing with all those great cheeses and homemade jams! One of my foreign friends I met in Turkey used to make homemade pizzas out of it. The possibilities are endless.

Everyday we would try to cut back, but really it is impossible. It is the wrath of pide. Fear it, but enjoy it as it is only around one month out of the year.