Monday, October 29, 2012

Curating Turkey

The Swedish tourism board's free-speech experiment of allowing a different Swede to tweet each week under the official @Sweden Twitter handle ran aground this summer when one of the selected participants fired off some anti-Semitic and just plain bizarre messages. The concept of creating the "world's most democratic Twitter account" seems to have weathered the storm, however -- while inspiring a spin-off here in Turkey.

Self-declared "Swedophile" Güney Köse started up @CuratingTurkey as "Turkey's personal Twitter account," with the aim of showing different aspects of the country to the world. Although a private initiative (unlike the government one in Sweden), @CuratingTurkey follows the same model as @Sweden, handing off the account to a new person -- either Turkish or expat -- each week.

As of midnight last night, and until next Sunday, November 4, you'll find my tweets in the @CuratingTurkey stream. Come on over and join the fun!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Be here now

Riding the train between Chicago and Ann Arbor, I notice the girl across the aisle has taken off her shoes. A tattoo on the side of her foot reads "Be Here Now."

As I gaze sleepily out the window, it occurs to me that's just what train (or long-distance bus) travel encourages: Faced with hours of forward motion along a predetermined route, with no control over where or when you stop, the traveler's mind drifts readily into a meditative state.

Light and clouds play across the sky, wind-blown leaves whip down the track, weathered farmhouses fade into the trees, two stenciled eyes gaze back from the wall of a utility shed, skyscrapers rise in the distance.

All here, now, but just for a moment before disappearing past the window, carrying with them any pain over what's been left behind.