The other day I received a card in the mail from my niece, Eilish.

The cover:

The letter:

The word for word translation based on my lower-intermediate knowledge of child-language:

To Joseph, I know you are in Turkey ’cause no you. I miss in you I. Love Eilish

The reply:

Dear Eilish,

thank you very much for the card.

I miss you, too.

Yes, I am in Turkey.

One day I will return to Australia and then we will see each other again.

Love Joe

Very Busy At Work

With the boss away, catching up to do from the just gone holiday, and several time-intensive student files, I am very busy at work this week. Reflecting this, I have yet to write up the Syria trip on the blog and the number of emails to deal with in my personal email account has snuck passed 40.

Oh yeah, happy Australia/Invasion Day!

Syria: What Fun And Adventure

9 am this morning I arrived back in Mersin. The 400 km journey from Aleppo took 18 hours instead of the expected 8. The journey to Aleppo’s duration was 16 hours and involved a hike. In between the adventures were 3 fantastic days. I am damn tired now so I will write my in-depth Syria report later this week.

Hajj and Kurban Bayrami (Sacrifice Holiday, Eid-ul-Adha)

From Thursday to Sunday is a four day holiday called “Kurban Bayrami” (in Turkish: Sacrifice Holiday) or Eid-ul-Adha. Throughout the Islamic world millions of sheep, goats, cattle and other animals will be killed and the meat eaten and distributed to the poor. Tonight I am off to see Toygun in Adana on the way to Aleppo (again) via Antakya.

This time of the Islamic calender (it varies slightly for each Gregorian year) is also the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudia Arabia. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that every Muslim who can afford to, should do at least once in their life.

This year, along with two million others, my boss is taking his parents-in-law on Hajj. They are on a three week trip arranged by the official Turkish Hajj agency. If my boss had his way he would have chosen a 10 day trip through a private agency. In Turkey (and probably in other Muslim countries), people who have been on Hajj are traditionally called “Haci” (pronounced: Haji).

The BBC News website has several informative links:

About Hajj

Eid-ul-Adha In Pictures

Your Say on Hajj

As is said in Turkish: Kurban Bayraminiz Kutlu Olsun!

The Last Of The Persimmons

There were no persimmons in all but one of the neighbourhood fruit and vegetable shops I passed. The season for this year is as good as over. To satisfy my hunger for this gorgeous fruit, I bought the remaining 4 kg from the one shop with any persimmons left.

1 kg has already entered my mouth either straight or in a yoghurt smoothy. One cannot get enough!