Monday, June 20, 2005



Ahh, the final days of my honeymoon are drawing to a close, and Afghanistan is beginning to call to me once more. I am very excited to be going back - strange to tell. I am sitting in an internet cafe from the genteel atlantic resort town of Biarritz, where I have been celebrating the marriage of our university friend of the 'teeny-tiny feet' (i am not the first to employ the epithet).

The honeymoon has been on Ithaca and in Istanbul so far. Istanbul I will recommend to everyone I meet now. It blew me away. I suddenly felt - here is a city I could really live in. The heart of two of the world's great empires, it is stuffed with art and the consciousness of greatness, the food the music and the climate are all ideal, and the people were very friendly and nice to us. Now this could partly be down to the rosy-tinted specs of the newlyweds, but I will certainly return. Coming from Afghan Turkestan and then Italy, when I arrived in Istanbul, I had a feeling of great familiarity - here was European culture with echoes of classical antiquity and the renaissance all around, the christian culture of Byzantium plus the Islamic culture that I have been immersed in for the past few years - and many of the turkic elements of Central Asia where I have been most recently living. It feels very strange to consider the controversy about the idea of Turkey joining the EU - it feels very familiar to me - basically a mediterranean culture.

I will leave it there for the moment. I am glad that I have not been shut down for my long silences. I will begin to write again in earnest when I get back to the 'Ghan'.

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