The Turkish Life

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Social solidarity amid COVID-19: Ways to help the people who need it most

Image via New Economy Coalition
I read a comment recently about the coronavirus pandemic that really resonated with me: We may all be in the same storm, but we're not all in the same boat.

Every day, it seems, I read (and sometimes write) about how this disease and its wide-ranging impacts are laying bare long-standing inequities in our societies, about the workers who can't afford to stay home, the refugees who don't have a home to stay in, the women for whom home in the most dangerous place, the 30 million people who have lost their jobs in the U.S. alone.

It's a stark reminder that as fear, loneliness, and insecurity batter us all, some of our vessels are definitely more seaworthy than others.

For those of us fortunate enough to be safe, employed, and in good health right now, I've compiled this very incomplete list of ways to help those who aren't. If you're an American who's received the $1,200 stimulus check and doesn't need that financial assistance, I humbly suggest joining me in donating all or part of that as a way to start.

And please do reach out to propose any recommended additions to this list.

TURKEY


Meeting basic needs

  • Ahtapot Gönüllüleri — This volunteer association's "Kardeş Aile" (Sister Family) project asks one family to support another struggling through the COVID-19 crisis by buying them the groceries they need through an online delivery platform or sending them a gift card.
  • Askıda Fatura – Municipalities around Turkey – including Istanbul, İzmir, Ankara, and Antalya – have set up websites similar to Bi'Komşu where people can anonymously pay unpaid utility bills for those in need. 
  • Bi'Komşu — This new website (its name means "A Neighbor") allows users to anonymously pay the utility bills of people who have requested support. You can search by neighborhood, choose a recipient at random, or search for urgent cases. The website is in Turkish, but you can read about it in English here.
  • Bodrum Humanity – Tourist-dependent towns like Bodrum are expecting major losses of income this year. This local NGO is delivering food packs and other supplies to needy families of laid-off building staff and hospitality workers and helping with rent payments as part of its mission to provide humanitarian support for the local community. Bank details for donations are on their website. 
  • İnşaat-İş — Construction workers union İnşaat-İş has created a solidarity fund for its members who have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus crisis. Contact the listed numbers (in Turkish) to find out how to contribute.
  • İthiyaç Haritası — The innovative "Needs Map" is just that, a map of people and organizations around Turkey that need support. If you read Turkish, you can donate directly to a need of your choice through their website, or send a general donation through Turkish Philanthropy Funds, which has a thorough explanation in English of the project. 
  • TİDER — The only Turkish member of the Global FoodBanking Network, TİDER operates "support markets" where people can get free groceries and other essential household goods. You can donate to their work, or apply to be a volunteer.
  • Turkish Philanthropy Funds — Money raised through the TPF COVID-19 Community Relief Fund goes to community organizations working on the ground in both Turkey and the U.S. to support vulnerable populations, quarantined individuals, and healthcare workers.

    Supporting refugees and migrants

    • Ad.dar — This community center for Syrian and Syrian-Palestinian refugees in Istanbul is collecting donations to provide supermarket gift cards for struggling families.
    • Common Sense Initiative — This group of activists, artists, and journalists who support migrants and refugees in Istanbul has helped families furnish their flats with donated goods and is delivering food baskets to families who have lost work or income due to the coronavirus. You can send donations to their PayPal account or contact them through social media for their Turkish bank account information.
    • Open Arms Kayseri — This center for refugees in central Turkey is delivering emergency food packages to the needy during the coronavirus pandemic. Their Turkish bank details for donations are on their Facebook "About" page (under "More Information"), or you can buy some of the cute items crocheted by refugee families from their Etsy shop.
    • ReVi — This group of İzmir-based volunteers has started a Coronavirus Fund to help refugee families in need. If you don't want to donate by credit card, they have accounts in the U.S., U.K., Europe, Australia, and Turkey for direct local money transfer.
    • Tarlabaşı Dayanışma — This community association in the Tarlabaşı neighborhood of Istanbul has put out an urgent call for funds to help migrants and others in need. Just 60 TL can provide hygiene supplies (soap, sanitizer, masks, gloves) and a grocery card. Message them on Facebook or Twitter to find out more.
    • Turkey Volunteers — With school classes having moved online, refugee kids who don't have access to computers at home are at risk of falling further behind. If you have a reliable, working secondhand computer to donate, email this group at the listed address.
    • Yusra Community Center — This volunteer-run space for refugees and other displaced people in Istanbul needs funds to support its community through the COVID-19 crisis.

    Helping the homeless

    • Çorbada Tuzun Olsun — This Turkish NGO feeds the homeless and is advocating for longer-term solutions to homelessness amid the pandemic. You can apply to volunteer on their nightly food distributions, or donate money.

    Donating blood

    • Kızılay — The combination of the coronavirus pandemic and the month of Ramadan (when many people are fasting and may not be able to give blood) has created an urgent need for blood and plasma donations in Turkey. The Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) has an online map of its donation points.

    Protecting women from domestic abuse

    • Mor Çatı — Reports of domestic violence are up all around the world amid the coronavirus crisis. You can donate funds directly to the Turkish women's shelter foundation Mor Çatı, or buy some of their cute merchandise to support their life-saving work.

    UNITED STATES


    NPR also has some good general tips on helping people who are struggling, financially and otherwise.

    Meeting basic needs

    • 10Give10 —This grassroots initiative is asking Americans to donate just $10 of their stimulus check to families hit hardest by COVID-19. The money will be distributed by the nonprofit GiveDirectly, which provides low-income families, most headed by single mothers, with $1,000 cash, no strings attached. 
    • Coronavirus Relief Fund — Not sure who to donate to? This fund answers that question for you by splitting your donation among 13 worthy organizations.
    • Davis Street — This comprehensive resource center for low-income members of the San Leandro, California, community is operating an emergency food pantry and continuing to offer a primary care clinic and other services. They are in need of monetary donations, sanitizing items, and unexpired food, and also accepting volunteers under the age of 50 who are willing and able to come onsite.
    • Feeding America — This nationwide network of food banks has established a COVID-19 Response Fund to help food banks across the country secure the resources they need to effectively and safely support communities.
    • YMCA of San Francisco — Tax-deductible donations to the Y's COVID-19 Sustainability Fund support emergency childcare for kids of healthcare and frontline workers; expanded food pantry services and locations for families struggling with food insecurity; and other essential safety-net services.

    Supporting refugees and migrants

    • International Refugee Assistance Project — This legal-aid organization for refugees is also now helping vulnerable clients in urgent situations with emergency funds to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing, and helping them get access to medical care and mental health support. You can donate or apply to volunteer.
    • Karam Foundation —This nonprofit has launched an emergency campaign to help Syrian refugee families settled in the U.S. who are suffering economically from repercussions of the coronavirus.

    Helping local businesses survive

    • Small Business Relief Initiative — One of the depressing things about this pandemic, even for those of us who are secure ourselves, is thinking about how many beloved restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, and other small businesses might not survive. Through GoFundMe's Small Business Relief Initiative page, you can search for favorite businesses near you that are facing financial loss.

    Reaching out / donating time

    • Kindness of Strangers — Sign up with this site to be (or connect with) a kind stranger who donates as little as 30 minutes of time to someone who needs help or company. You can offer a skill like yoga tips or math tutoring; advice or mentorship; or just a listening ear to someone who is lonely. The site has partnered with senior homes across the U.S. so people can "adopt a grandparent" too. 

    EUROPE

    • Help Refugees — Funds donated to this group's coronavirus emergency appeal support efforts to help displaced people living in overcrowded and unsanitary refugee camps in Greece and elsewhere in Europe. This assistance includes providing doctors and nurses to those who have none, providing emergency isolation accommodation for the sick, and distributing soap and hand sanitizer.
    • Mind — Mental health is a serious concern globally as isolation conditions in many countries drag on. Donations to this UK-based charity help fund their hotline and other support networks for people, including frontline workers, who are feeling overwhelmed or despairing.
    • Women's Aid — Like other organizations working with survivors of domestic violence, this UK-based charity says it has seen a huge increase in demand for its services since the pandemic started. Donations help keep its live chat hotline going so women who aren't safe at home have somewhere to reach out.

    GLOBAL

    • Doctors Without Borders — Medical personnel from Doctors Without Borders are working to respond to COVID-19 in hard-hit communities around the world, including in the United States. You can donate to their efforts here.
    • Informal Workers' Campaigns — The world's 2 billion informal workers depend on their daily earnings to survive and face the risk of falling into extreme poverty as a result of government-ordered lockdowns. The global network Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing & Organizing has compiled a list of fundraising campaigns led by membership-based organizations of informal workers and their allies.
    • Translators Without Borders — Reliable information is essential for combatting coronavirus. Translators Without Borders is seeking volunteer translators in a number of Asian languages to help ensure broad access health-related information. You can also donate to their work.

    Sunday, April 23, 2017

    A Lycian Way mini-adventure: Rest day in Kemer

    Happy toes in the sand
    You know you're in an Antalya beach resort when... your friend leaves her wallet on the minibus and you're alerted to this fact by your Turkish fellow passengers calling out not "Abla" or "Hanımefendi" or "Bayan" or even "Hey lady" but "Devushka! Devushka!"

    In case it wasn't already clear from the Cyrillic signs on shops selling fur coats and skimpy bathing suits, that was a pretty good hint that the holiday town of Kemer is known as a destination for Russian tourists. And though I try not to be overly judgmental, it was hard to escape the feeling that they'd given all foreign visitors a pretty bad rap.

    Cheers to new adventures
    There were exceptions, of course -- the friendly, chatty hunter who had just come down from Tahtalı Dağı and showed us photos of the cave where he'd set up the blackened çaydanlık that he'd hauled up to the summit in his backpack comes to mind.

    But on the whole, we received the surliest welcome in Kemer that I've ever experienced in famously hospitable Turkey -- from brusquely impatient waiters to the hotel staff pounding on our door and following us down the hallway to repeatedly demand payment up front for our room. One woman I sat next to on a bus softened noticably when she found out I was American, and not Russian. Finally! A country with an even worse international reputation than my own.

    Last sunrise in Lycia (for now)
    Though Kemer's beautiful long stretch of both sand and pebble beaches was whipped by wind in the afternoon and marred by cat-calling magandas in the early evening, our little band of hikers was happy to trade our boots for sandals, sit in the sun, and finally make a proper toast to adventures just had, and those yet to come.

    Saturday, April 22, 2017

    A Lycian Way mini-adventure, day 5: Tekirova to....?

    Poppies and a misty mountain
    Fortified after yesterday's exertions with börek and eggs at a local pastane, we picked up the trail again (after plodding across none-too-memorable Tekirova) on a service road behind the sprawling Rixos hotel, whose waterpark and shabby outlying buildings butt up right against the woodlands on the outskirts of town.

    It was an inauspicious start to the day's hike, but after a short jaunt through sparse forest, across a campground/equestrian center, and past some flower-dappled fields backdropped by a mist-shrouded Tahtalı Dağı, we were back on favorite territory: curving coastal paths above the Mediterranean Sea, more slate blue than turquoise on this overcast morning, but beautiful nonetheless.

    Lovely Phaselis
    The promise of visiting the ruins of Phaselis had been a major motivation to get our tired legs moving once again, though having not been to the site in nearly five years, I'll admit I feared for the worst. Would it be blighted by garish concession stands, filled with ham-fisted restorations, or marred by new roads? Thankfully, the remains of this ancient maritime city were exactly as I remembered: an evocative series of arches and tombs and column capitals half-hidden away in the woods, centered around a wide paved-stone road leading to the sea.

    There weren't many other visitors at Phaselis when we passed through, but those who were there seemed to be having so much fun, their joy was infectious: a young pair faux-fencing with sticks, a Turkish woman flamboyantly play-acting on the stage of the ancient theater, a group of tourists arraying themselves on the theater steps for cheesy-album-cover-style photos.

    Seaside serenity
    We took a few band photos of our own on the dramatic, volcanic-rock-like cliffs past Phaselis, then lost the trail in a maze of low brush before deciding to break for lunch overlooking the sea, across a small bay from the town of Çamyuva. Continuing on through a predictably garbage-ridden picnic area, we followed an asphalt road to the main highway, where the trail waymarks led -- in very Hiking Istanbul-esque fashion -- through a graffitied underpass and across a large construction site where a fresh pair of tunnels emerged from the hillside.

    What our guidebook described as a forest track seemed to be en route to being turned into forest road, with rocks piled underfoot and some new crash barriers alongside. With one member of our party hobbled by painful blisters, we stood little chance of reaching the next village by nightfall, and after climbing up this unappealing series of switchbacks for about 45 minutes, we decided it wasn't worth continuing on.

    Unlovely construction
    We hiked back down, crossed through the construction site and the underpass again, and ended our hiking adventure -- this installment, at least! -- hailing a minibus by the side of the highway.

    Four-and-a-half Lycian Way segments down, just 24 ½ more on to go on future excursions before I can get the trail's waymark tattooed on my arm. Kidding. Kinda.

    Friday, April 21, 2017

    A Lycian Way mini-adventure, day 4: Çıralı to Tekirova

    Tired as my legs were, I nearly broke into a run when I spotted the yellow signpost in the distance, at the end of yet another field of rough red rocks. But when I reached the post, my heart sank. We had already been walking for nine hours on what we'd been led to believe was a hike of about that length, the daylight was starting to wane, and if the yellow sign was correct, we still had more than three hours to go to reach the next town.

    Can't get enough of that
    turquoise water
    We'd started out the day from Çıralı in high spirits, if a bit leery of the dark clouds roaming across the sky. A short climb above the seafront took us on a route leading up and down a series of small coves and the rocky cliffs overlooking their beaches, each vista seemingly more photo-worthy than the last. Turning inland brought us first across the exposed, drab, rocky remains of old mining operations, then into an overgrown meadow that hid any official trail markers, leaving only other hikers' rock cairns to follow through a maze of bushes and tall grasses.

    Then we climbed and climbed over rocky slopes where hardy flowers bloomed between the stones, going higher and higher until stopping for a rest at one point, I turned around to be awestruck by the vast panorama below, spreading out to the ocean and those little coves we'd visited hours before, each inch of the view earned by our calloused feet and straining muscles.

    Hardy and beautiful flowers
    Invigorated by the sight of how far we'd come, we marched forward until the pine-needle-strewn paths turned again into rocky outcroppings and the time we'd allotted for the hike passed without any indication that we might be nearing its end.

    Night started to fall not long after we came across the yellow sign, and the question of whether it would be more dangerous to continue on in the dark, make a a treacherous beeline down a steep ravine to the distant highway that was the only sign of civilization in sight, or try to find shelter (since we were carrying none of our own) in the woods for the night shadowed our every footstep.

    We started all the way down there
    at sea level
    I tried to quicken my pace even as I felt my feet begin to stumble from fatigue, the red-and-white slashes of paint on rocks alongside the trail becoming harder and harder to see as the light faded further. Digging out extra batteries for one of two failing flashlights, we continued on in the dark, tracing the uneven path and searching for trail markers with our narrow beam of light.

    It was hard to know if minutes had passed, or hours, but eventually the hum of cars on the distant highway had started to seem louder -- or was it just our weary minds' wishful thinking? Then the flashlight's beam caught a piece of styrofoam on the ground, then a wire fence, then an electric pylon, then finally, mercifully, a dirt road. Never had I been so happy to see the signs of development encroaching on nature.

    So damn many rocks
    For our final hours in the dark, I'd driven myself forward with thoughts of a cheeseburger, a giant plate of fries, and a cold beer (if not three). But by the time the dirt road turned into an asphalt one and reached town, it was past 10pm, too late to buy alcohol from the shop, and the only restaurant within crawling distance was dry. We fell upon our kebabs and pide like a pack of wolves on their prey and toasted our safe arrival with soda and ayran.

    Tomorrow, onward to Roman Bridge?

    Thursday, April 20, 2017

    A Lycian Way mini-adventure, day 3: Adrasan to Çıralı

    Green hills above Adrasan
    The path out of Adrasan rose up above the greenhouse-dotted valley, across high meadows bright with flowers and fresh green shoots of grass, past a shepherd perched on a rock under a tree as his small flock grazed nearby, and alongside a rough shack where an enterprising local had set up shop selling fresh-squeezed orange juice to thirsty hikers.

    After these bucolic scenes, the trail took a turn for the monotonous as it wound up into rocky forest, pretty but with little to differentiate one stretch from the next. The remnants of ancient Phoinikous, which we'd eagerly noted in our guidebook as something to make up for the lack of sea views on this inland segment of the Lycian Way, failed to reveal themselves amongst the craggy natural stones scattered all over the hillside.

    Strange trees and rock cairn
    Then the forest became thicker and lower, closing in on us almost jungle-like, cutting off phone and GPS signals and restricting our vision to no more than a few meters as the narrow path zigzagged through unfamiliar trees with twisted reddish trunks that felt as smooth and cold as carved and polished wood. It was easy to imagine ourselves in some kind of fairytale, or perhaps -- remembering the disquieting howls we'd heard earlier from an unseen male voice, or catching a glimpse of a dark green snake slithering across our path -- a darker kind of fable.

    Sarcophagus in ancient city of Olympos
    Following a long descent, the trees around us opened up once again and we emerged into the ruins of ancient Olympos like explorers stumbling upon a lost city (never mind the parking lot and ticket booths across the river). Moss grew over the inscriptions and carved reliefs on heavy sarcophagi and stone walls seemed to melt into the surrounding greenery and soil. We walked under sturdy arches and through a crumbling theater half reclaimed by the landscape, marveling at how such historical richness could be left in such glorious disarray.

    Olympos beach at dusk
    Just when we thought we'd reached the end of the site and the seafront beyond where our path should continue... we ran up against a fence. Laden as we were with our heavy packs and having already walked for 16 kilometers, backtracking was not an option worth considering. So like the seasoned urban hikers we are, over the fence we went -- onto the gleaming white stones of Olympos beach, the long sweeping curve of the sea framed by dramatic cliffs catching the last gleams cast by the setting sun.

    Tomorrow, onward to Tekirova!

    Wednesday, April 19, 2017

    A Lycian Way mini-adventure, day 2: Karaöz to Adrasan

    Trail marker in flower-filled meadow
    Re-scrutinizing our maps over breakfast this morning, we realized we had spent a good chunk of yesterday's walk near, but not actually on, the Lycian Way, which would apparently have taken us over a long stretch of beach rather than through the town of Mavikent and its outskirts. So it wasn't until today that we were really able to get into the swing of one of the key elements of this long-distance hike: spotting little red-and-white stripes of paint on tree trunks, electric poles, and rocks large and small, high and low, and sometimes nearly covered by the flowers gloriously blooming all over the trail.

    Field of cairns
    "There's one!" became a frequent cry between us as we peered down two paths after a junction, trying to figure out which one to take. After a while it became almost second nature to scan the landscape for these trail markers as we picked our way up the steep, hot climb after the Gelidonya Feneri (lighthouse) or strolled through shaded woods. At some points, there was extra navigational help from rock cairns perched on the side of the path or on top of a larger rock. In one rather spectacularly odd case, we crossed a rock field dappled with dozens of cairns, giving the area an eerie, almost funereal feel.

    Korsan Koyu ("Pirates' Cove")
    Early on in today's hike we came across a group of sleepy backpackers breaking camp in a gorgeous cove, the turquoise water lapping gently at the shore. The sight gave me a bit of a pang about not sleeping under the stars, but given the dire state of Turkey's tourism industry lately, I'm happy this time around to be putting some money in the pockets of the families running the pensions we're staying at instead. Nothing like a socially conscious excuse to enjoy a few creature comforts.

    Tomorrow, onward to Çıralı!

    Tuesday, April 18, 2017

    A Lycian Way mini-adventure, day 1: Kumluca to Karaöz

    When you've been trying for nine years to find a friend or two who wants to tackle part of Turkey's most famous long-distance hiking route with you, the last thing you want to hear before you finally set out on the trail is pouring rain. But pour it did as Katrinka Abroad and I lay in our beds in our pension in Finike last night, the rumble of thunder adding to our trepidation about what the morning would bring.
    Amidst the holiday homes and hotels
    of Kumluca

    But with the skies clearing as we ate our breakfast, we set off in high spirits from Finike, hopping a minibus (as suggested by our guidebook) to skip 10 kilometers of plodding down the flat and scruffy shoreline that ran alongside the road and start our on-foot adventure in Kumluca. Frankly, we should have followed the book's recommendation to the letter and minibused it all the way to Mavikent, sparing ourselves an outskirts-of-Istanbul-esque ramble through half-built housing developments and around greenhouses and water-treatment plants.

    Old beach house in Mavikent
    Things got better as we passed through the small town of Mavikent, where there was a beautifully overgrown cemetery, a sweet old lady growing gorgeous roses all around her house, dilapidated wooden houses on stilts along the beach, and a big rock to clamber up on and eat our packed lunch.

    It was there, by the rock, about 10 kilometers into our walk, that we found our first official signage for the Lycian Way, the 540-kilometer route stretching along Turkey's Mediterranean Coast from Fethiye to Antalya. (We picked the trail up well into its second half, and will hike for less than a week -- this time around!)

    From there, though the path largely continued following a road, it became a much more scenic and dramatic one, undulating above the coast with picture-worthy views of the turquoise sea around nearly every bend.

    En route to Karaöz
    By late afternoon, we'd reached Karaöz, a small farming village near the water, and found accommodations at a simple pension run by a friendly couple with a dog, two ducks, and at least one green thumb for gardening. Though it was a fairly easy day hiking-wise, our dinner of yayla çorbaşı and grilled çipura still felt well-earned -- and tasted delicious.

    Tomorrow, onward to Adrasan!

    Tuesday, March 7, 2017

    When politics intrudes on paradise

    This time of year, the Mediterranean village of Adrasan used to be bustling with backpackers, spending a night or two in town as part of their trek along the Lycian Way. But this week, I seem to be the only tourist for miles.

    "We would be on full staff in March," the owner of the otherwise empty hotel where I'm staying tells me. "As you can see, the weather is so good for hiking, but with the terrorism and the politics..."

    Such cares couldn't feel further away while walking alongside Adrasan's serene beach, looking out over its glimmering bay from the tree-dappled mountains that rise up from the shoreline, or eating a hearty home-cooked meal alongside its lazy river. Yet for those who depend on tourism for their livelihood, the effects of distant disasters and decisions are felt especially keenly in places like this.

    Before opening the hotel, its owner had operated a pair of restaurants on the nearby beach. All told, he's been in the tourism business in Adrasan for 25 years, but is originally from Diyarbakır, in southeast Turkey. I asked him why he left his hometown. He shrugged. "Same as you moving to Istanbul..."

    I hadn't said anything about my reasons for relocating, but it was a more than fair point. I don't have a ready answer as to why I uprooted myself from everything I knew nine years ago. In some ways, it doesn't really matter what someone is seeking, or escaping; we end up somewhere, we may struggle a bit (or a lot), but eventually we build new lives. And then the bombs come -- or the tourists don't -- and we may feel like we're too invested to leave.

    Thursday, January 19, 2017

    10 yıldır

    A soft rain fell as people gathered in Istanbul this afternoon to once again mark the anniversary of the death of Hrant Dink. The Armenian-Turkish journalist was assassinated in front of the office of his newspaper, Agos, 10 years ago today. His family is still seeking justice for the murder.

    Where the outcry over Dink's killing in 2007 spurred hope that some old wounds in Turkey might yet be healed, the country today seems more divided and damaged, as Dink's widow, Rakel, reminded in her speech with a wrenching rundown of the past decade's pain:
    What has happened in the last 10 years? Oh my darling. The Malatya massacre, İskenderun, Sevag Balıkçı, Roboski, Gezi, Suruç, Diyarbakır, Sur, Mardin, Nusaybin, Cizre, Şırnak, Tahir Elçi, Ankara, July 15th, Maçka, İzmir, Gaziantep, Ortaköy, Airport attack and the war in the Middle East. Operations, terror...
    The always-poignant commemoration was a bit subdued this year; under the "state of emergency" imposed since last summer's failed coup, there was no march from Taksim Square to the Agos offices in Harbiye. With Istanbul having suffered yet another horrific terror attack less than three weeks previously, security was high, with bag checks to enter the cordoned-off area in front of Agos, and both visibly armed and plainclothes police mingling amidst the crowd.

    But none of this could diminish the power of the words spoken there, both those by Rakel Dink, and those earlier in the remembrance:
    "We are all Turks, Armenians, Kurds, Laz, Circassian, Alevi... 
    "We are in front of Agos today in these difficult times... 
    "We are sustaining your voice and your struggle, but we miss you."

    Sunday, January 8, 2017

    A death in the mahalle

    The steadily falling snow that has blanketed Istanbul over the last 36 hours has brought a welcome hush to the city's noisy, jostling streets and a momentary sense of peace that has lately been in far too short of supply. But the edginess created by recent months' terrorist attacks was quick to grip my heart once again at the sound of a loud voice on the street outside my apartment building.

    Cautiously looking out the window, I felt the tension in my chest immediately ease, replaced with a warm sadness at the sight of dozens of people lined up in the snow-covered street, holding their gloved hands up in prayer as an imam in a long cloak and red-and-white cap recited verses over a green coffin.

    Bundled up for the minus-zero temperatures, the mourners listened quietly and still as the ruhuna fatiha was read. Afterwards, some consoled each other, touching the sides of their heads together in greeting, while others reached out to lay a hand on the coffin as the open-bed truck belonging to the municipal funeral services department slowly pulled away down the street to transport the body to its final resting place for burial. Başınız sağolsun.