Showing posts with label TV shows. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TV shows. Show all posts

Monday, January 7, 2013

Five Most Popular Posts From 2012 for the 'Empty Nest Expat' Blog

I didn't get to blog as much as I wanted last year because I devoted many hours of my time to learning Turkish. Still, I increased my number of posts from the year before. Here are the top five most popular posts written in 2013:
"Hürrem," the leading character
 of the show 
1. Ready to Try Some Turkish TV? Watch one episode of "The Magnificent Century"
This soap opera is must-watch TV in Turkey and surrounding countries. The Turkish Prime Minister has threatened to ban it for focusing too much on the Sultan's bedroom, and not enough on the Sultan's time on the battlefield. The Prime Minister's threats of censorship, of course, just increase popular interest.
Maiden's Tower on the Bosphorus
2. Time Out for Turkish
This post shares my Turkish language journey and some of the internet resources I have used along the way in my early days of learning. The irony is, now that I've finally paid to attend a traditional classroom, my learning is exponentially faster! It turns out you can't beat a real teacher walking you through the grammar.
3. Breaking the Silence on Street Harassment in Istanbul
Single women travellers are one of the largest growth segments in travel. I tried to point out the cost to countries and local businesses when women don't feel safe on their streets.
Here we are discussing Murakami
4. Discussing Books with the Global Minds Book Club
When I explain the idea behind the Global Minds Book Club as people from around the world discussing books from around the world, everywhere I go, people get excited. They love that idea! And once you've discussed a book with an international group, it can seem a bit tame to only discuss a title with only people from your own country. Challenge your thinking!
Global activist Eve Ensler
She doesn't look away
from the world's worst situations
5. VDay 2013: One Billion Women Rising Globally & .... Dancing!
In 2012, I acted in my first play "The Vagina Monologues" to support Eve Ensler and her amazing, amazing work on behalf of ending violence against women. I loved the experience, the time I spent with the women in the cast, and I look forward to doing my part in Eve Ensler's next big project: #1billionrising which happens next month. I hope you'll participate too.

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Most popular posts for the 'Empty Nest Expat' blog for 2009

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Curious Souls" Gather in Istanbul for Discussion

The extraordinary painting of Setenay Özbek
at Art 350 Art Gallery in Istanbul
Breathtaking Color
Isil Musluer
One of the wonderful friends I have made through Istanbul Internations and my Global Minds Book Club is my Turkish friend Isil. Isil is an attractive, fun, positive and intelligent woman who is always uplifting to be around. 
Me with Curious Souls who were new to me
Mehmet and Tayfun
Isil recently organized a wonderful monthly discussion group through Internations called "Curious Souls." I couldn't help but think that Gertrude Stein, famous for her literary salons in Paris in the 1930s, would have been proud of Isil -- such was the delightful company of this group.
The audience primed for discussion
'Curious Souls' combined many of Isil's friends from Internations, and her friends from Istanbul Toastmasters. Toastmasters as an organization is new to Turkey. It was so fun to see my friend's ability to gather interesting people and create a wonderful atmosphere for discussion. Frankly, I was a a bit in awe of it! 
Petek in deep discussion
 We gathered at Art 350, an art gallery on the Anatolian (Asian) side of Istanbul, right on the main shopping street at 350 Bagdat Caddesi (Bagdad Street). We were surrounded by the inspiring painting of Setenay Özbek.
A discussion in full swing

 Isil invited people with these words:
 Are you fascinated with new ideas and new ways of looking at life? Do you have an insatiable desire to learn more? Do you get immense pleasure in listening to inspirational stories of great minds, and are you filled with appreciation for great talents? In short, are you a "Curious Soul"?  If you are, then, we are getting together once in a month, to watch two or three very interesting, mind-stretching and entertaining TED conferences. After each video conference, we carry a guided discussion and express our own points of view. If you are ready to experience the flourishing of diverse ideas, if you would like to express yourself, expand your horizons and grow together, and while doing these, if you would like to pass an enjoyable time together, then I invite you to come and join us.
Listening to each other
We discussed these videos:

Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success.
Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story
Neil Harbisson: I listen to color (so appropriate given our surroundings)
Louie Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.
 What is the single story told about your country?
I volunteered to moderate the discussion generated by Chimamanda Adichie's "The danger of a single story" since I had read her book "Half of a Yellow Sun" in our Global Minds Book Club. 
That video is the gift that keeps on giving, as a discussion could be had for hours on what is the single story about your country, or your race, or your class, or your religion, or your family, or you. We only had time to discuss what is the single story about your country.
I explained that before I came to Turkey, I didn't even have one single story about Turkey -- I had no stories. I knew nothing about Turkey as a nation, probably because our national histories don't bump up against each other.
I gave as an example the Bosphorus Bridge, a bridge every bit as beautiful as the Golden Gate Bridge, yet I had never seen a photo of it before coming to Turkey. Turkey has a long way to go until the other side of the world has even a single story, let alone multiple stories about it.
The insight I gained from the discussion is that if Turks tell a single story about each other, it's based on where they are from. They ask each other, "what city are you from?" and some decide immediately what someone's values and ethnicity are based on their image of the town.
I've seen that happen quite a bit actually; I've even had friends asked "what city is your husband from?" in job interviews. I could completely identify with this problem coming from Iowa, which generates the single story of "flyover country" if it generates a story at all.

 I felt trusted

It felt great to lead the discussion there; I felt trusted. Here we were discussing something so close to Turkish hearts in a language foreign to them. Out of the 30+ people there, only two of us were from another country. Could you find 30 of your friends able to discuss a topic all in the same foreign language in your home country? I could not.
Not a single person brought up the Turkish "single story" that used to drive Turks crazy for years as recently as five years ago: the story told in the movie "Midnight Express" about an American imprisoned for drug charges. I asked a woman about it later and she said "I thought about it though!"  That old single story about Turkey, while new to me, has been left behind, which I am sure, cheers the Turks. Their story is much, much bigger now.
Another great discussion
led by Alper Rozanes
generated by Alain de Botton's video
"A kinder, gentler philosophy of success"
 You know the discussions are good when you almost hate to see the next video start up.

Another insight I had from the combination of videos watched that day is how there seems to be a dominate "single story" about what constitutes success around the world: career success and wealth. How useful for the world's corporations.

Yet, there are many other ways to be successful, each an expression of human excellence. Think of success in marriage, or as a caregiver, or as a parent, or as a creative. We too often care too much about that dominant single story of success, rather than listen to our own drummer.

Isil's idea of a 'Curious Souls' discussion group would be an inexpensive idea to replicate anywhere in the world, wouldn't it? It's exciting the range of content available on the Internet.  It's no longer necessary to settle for what's on TV. We can skip the violence and go straight to intellectually uplifting.
 One last glorious painting by Setenay Ozbek

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ready to try some Turkish TV? Watch one episode of "The Magnificent Century"

The ensemble cast
of Süleyman's Ottoman Court
Hollywood is so dominant in entertainment, it's easy for Americans to think no one else in the world produces quality movies and TV series. In fact, Turkey has created soft power for itself with a stream of TV shows which home viewers from the Balkans to the Arabian Sea enjoy. "More, more, more," they clamor.

My Turkish isn't good enough to watch a series in the original language. Fortunately, one of the most popular Turkish TV series subtitled their first episode so that English-language audiences could decide for themselves if they would like more international selection on their television.  I've watched the first and second episode. You don't need that much language as the story is universal: boy meets girl.

Local historians lift their nose at this show decrying that it has as much historical accuracy as a Phillipa Gregory novel, and that may be true. Do we really know if Roksalana's beau went to heaven or hell when he was killed? The details may be embroidered but the broad outlines of the story are true.
German-Turkish actress
Meryem Uzerli
as Hürrem

Besides the theme of boy meets girl, another added delight of this series is the Ottoman costumes, headgear, architecture, and interiors. The Ottomans really did wear the hats in the series that look like waste paper baskets and Jiffy Pop poppers.

The caftans! The divans! The carpets! It's all so evocative of a lost time when the "Orient mystique" of the harem intruiged all Westerners who came in contact with Turkish culture.

How popular is this series? It's credited with increasing Arab tourism to Istanbul by 50% this year. Here's the Wikipedia background on the incredible story of Süleyman and his beloved Roksolana, whom he nicknamed Hürrem, "the cheerful one:"
The "Magnificent Century" of the Ottomans refers to the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent , and the series dramatizes the intrigues of his harem and court. Most of the incidents and actions occurring are based on fictional stories of the Ottomans specifically Sultan Süleyman and his harem but these actions take place on the fixed time of this reign.
 Is it universal that
all heroes arrive on a white horse?

Actor Halit Ergenç
as Sultan Süleyman
At the age of twenty-six, when his rule began, Sultan Süleyman sought to build an empire in this world more powerful and more extensive than Alexander The Great of Macedonia and to render the Ottomans invincible.

Throughout his 46-year reign, Sultan Süleyman became known as the greatest warrior and ruler of the East and West. The young Süleyman ascended to the throne after receiving the news of his crowning at a hunting party in 1520. Unaware that he would be embarking on a reign that would later be considered the pinnacle of Ottoman rule, he left behind his consort Mahidevran and their son, little prince Mustafa, at his palace in Manisa, and, accompanied by his close friend and companion Pargalı İbrahim, took the road to Topkapı Palace in İstanbul.
While they were on route, an Ottoman ship sailed off from Crimea across the Black Sea, bringing kidnapped Christian female slaves as gifts for the Ottoman palace. On this ship was Alexandra La Rossa, the daughter of a Ukrainian Orthodox minister, who saw her father mother, and fiance being killed while kidnapped. This young girl, who had been kidnapped from her family and sold to the Ottoman palace as a slave, would become Hürrem (Roksolana), the consort who so captivated Sultan Süleyman that he took the nearly unprecedented step of making her his wife. She would bear his sons and rule his empire together with him through bloodshed and intrigue.
As Sultan Süleyman ruled his empire, he allowed his great passion for Hürrem a heavy influence in his court.
The television series focuses on the relationships between the members of the imperial household, especially the romantic entanglements and rivalries. The animosity between Hürrem and Mahidevran, and Hürrem's rise as Süleyman's favorite while pregnant with his son, her fall from favor after her son's birth and her eventual return to grace, provide the main subject matter of the series. Significant subplots include the affection between the Grand Vizier and one of the ladies of the royal household and the tension between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire. 
For your enjoyment: episode one of "The Magnificent Century" with English subtitles. After you watch it, tell me if your TV choices would be enhanced by more shows from other countries, such as the Turkish tale contained in "The Magnificent Century." After all, there are many times in our lives when we can't travel. Why not make 'travel' come to us?

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