Thursday, 22 April 2010

Little Flying Brains

It's hamlah season in Jordan. Hamlah are raw, green chickpeas each in their own little pod. I think the name is related to the word for "pregnant." After the hamlat are shelled and roasted in the oven, they're called hemmas.

To eat them, you pinch the top of the pod, and it splits open along the seam.

They look like perfect little brains with wings to me. You can't see much detail in my crappy webcam photos, but hamlah look just like brains.

Mmmmmmm, braaaiiiins. Nom nom nom.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Springtime in Istanbul

Artifacts from the ruins of an ancient church dating to the fifth century AD, found under the edge of the Hagia Sophia. It became a masjid after the Ottoman conquest in 1453, but before that it was the site of a series of churches beginning in the fourth century AD. These ruins were not fully excavated, to avoid damaging the Hagia Sophia.

Turkey, and Istanbul especially, have been famous for their tulips for centuries. We were fortunate to be in Istanbul during their brief season, and saw pretty much every sort of tulip imaginable. I photographed these pink ones in a park along the outside of the old city walls, the same walls that Fatih Sultan Mehmet led the Ottoman forces through over six hundred years ago. A little further along, people were growing vegetables under the wall, and it looked like some people were squatting in the trees between the wall and the road, and in some of the disintegrating towers as well. I spotted a young couple necking inside a tower that had crumbled down to only about a storey high.

I was fascinated by the city walls, and took a ton of pictures of them, one of the great things about being allowed to use Rukiye’s digital camera. I can take twenty pictures of something without worrying about wasting a whole roll of film; some of them will turn out, and some of them won’t, but that’s okay. Using a film camera is very expensive here, especially since mine uses unusual film and batteries, it's hard for me to communicate what I want at the studios, and the studios often mess up the prints. I took about half a dozen pictures of Rukiye’s lace curtains, and Rukiye decided I was officially nuts. In a week and a half, we took over six hundred pictures.

Rapunzel growing in the warmth and shelter of the stone wall.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Halloween in Istanbul

Rukiye, my host in Istanbul, has her last university exam today, just a half hour on Arabic grammar. She's almost done a two year program in Islamic studies. Hijab is forbidden in government schools in Turkey, so she's going to wear a wig.

She tried it on this morning, and it was hard not to laugh.  It was a cheap wig and didn't look real at all. We spent quite a while attempting to comb and style the wig, but it didn't help much.

We're leaving Istanbul the day after tomorrow. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone, it doesn't seem like enough.