Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Divided City: Rumi's Invitation

Colourful doorway, Lefkoşa

Alsançak, Kyrenia, Nicosia/Lefkoşa, North Cyprus

The morning is cloud-covered and even rain was forecast as a possibility so I decided this was not a day to go walking but to explore the northern part of the divided city of Nicosia, and possibly visit some museums. So I walk along the pine and olive tree lined road, past the graveyard and the roundabout, past the patisserie to the main road. Within one minute, a dolmus comes along, one of these shared taxis, a mini-bus, which will pick you up wherever you are, and will put you down too, wherever you choose.  All the passengers are fascinating. Some of the older ones sit near the front and talk to the driver. Then there are stylish young women who have stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine. They tend to say nothing, look at no-one, and when they get off they rarely speak, but move to the front, and hand over the fare in silence. The young men too, all without exception dressed in jeans and black leather jacket, with styled, set and glossed hair, tend not to greet anyone and look as if this journey is simply a boring necessity.

I get out beside the vast yellow Hotel Colony in the centre of Kyrenia. The dolmus to Nicosia I was told, leaves from just a few metres away. And that's where I find it, parked outside the Café Doping.

With such a departure point how could the journey not be – even just a little – dream like? Travel on a magic carpet? Certainly the journey to Nicosia/Lefkoşa did not take long, the road finding a gap between the Kyrenia mountains and slipping through, into the central plain of the island, and on into the capital.

The tourist information office is located in the Kyrenia Gate. 

Up the main street to the old market, 

and the Great Hamam, 

The faint drizzle changed abruptly, turned to that steady, even rain the Mediterranean countries are so good at. Windless, straight down on your hair and shoulders, on your arms and feet rain. I went looking for an umbrella. In one shop the man said it was difficult to keep his scarves dry in the rain, he had a plastic sheet arrangement at the side, a kind of shelter. Maybe it will be fine tomorrow I said and he said no, it's going to be like this all week. (It wasn't.)

Time for coffee. I choose the Orange Café because it has several outside tables with canopies. Now, to get a good coffee, you really have to go for Turkish coffee. Otherwise, you may find yourself drinking a pale, weak beverage which passes for coffee.

For a change from Turkish coffee, which is black and sweet (too bitter for my taste without sugar) I go for 'cappuccino' which is milky and the light brown colour of a flooded river. So here we are on a rainy day in Lefkoşa/Nicosia where I sit outside under the canopy and watch the umbrella holding pedestrians saunter by. But I find my surroundings so delightful I do not mind what I am drinking.

I then wander through the old town.  

So many ruined tumbledown houses, or still standing houses with open doors with peeled-off paint and inside, just empty spaces, with slats of wood or bits of rubble lying on the floor, you could see this through the partly-open door.

I couldn't photograph them, it was like seeing someone lying in the street, just a blanket over them, a few dusty bagged possessions, a woolly hat over their head, you wouldn't photograph them and it was the same with the houses, all torn up from conflict, emptied, abandoned, their former owners evacuated or evicted or forced to flee or escaped some threatened violence, or feared violence or did not escape.


The rain lessens, and patches of blue sky appear and the sun comes out.


Inside The Mevlevi Tekke & Museum. 

Picture of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi's tomb at Konya


Do you think I know what I'm doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?
As much as a pen knows what it's writing,
or the ball can guess where it's going next.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.

Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let's buy it.

Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)


The Solitary Walker said...

Rain and sun. Coffee and culture. Ruin and survival. And, wow, that Rumi poem...

dritanje said...

To be in a divided city is so strange. The presence of that 'other side' (which you can't see, it's blocked off by high walls) is so strong, accompanies you like your own shadow. It was so good then to come across the Mevlevi tekke and Rumi's words of such openness, so then I looked out some extracts from his poems... which celebrate connection, love and oneness...

am said...

Have been meaning to let you know how much I enjoyed reading Every Shade of Blue. Thinking about your travels with John Renbourn again today and realizing that the first anniversary of his death is approaching.

"And he is also the best person with whom to find keys, because he laughs even more, at the joy of it."

"... and I am laughing, so happy, giving thanks still to sun and sky and the saints who have accompanied me and helped me ... including saints Kosmas and Damianos, my friends with the turbans from Saint Pantelimonas Church in Cyprus ..."

Thank you so much for this post and Rumi quotes and the thoughts regarding the divided city and our shadows. Did not know about the Mevlevi Tekke and Museum or the Rumi Institute in Nicosia until this morning. Here's a Rumi quote for today:

"Do you know what the music is saying? Come follow me and you will find the way. Your mistakes can also lead you to the Truth. When you ask, the answer will be given."

dritanje said...

Thank you so much Amanda for your comments and I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. It sounds as though you knew John's music - maybe you heard him play during one of his many tours in USA. I met so many people when I was with him, and so many places we visited.

I didn't know about the Mevlevi Museum in Nicosia either before I went there in January. But the photo of Rumi's tomb brought me back to his writing, and I'm so pleased you have posted the above quote. I particularly like "Your mistakes can also lead you to the Truth."

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Fascinating.....I like the bit about the bus! Rain changes the feeling of a place everywhere in an instant,as does sunshine.
Rumi is always so current.

dritanje said...

Yes, it is amazing how the weather changes the whole feeling of a place. And I was so pleased to find the connection with Rumi, that was quite unexpected.
M xx