met me in front of Aya Sophia on her one day off, and we went to have coffee at the Seven Hills restaurant with its grand view of the two big mosques and the Bosphorus Sea as well.
She is a friend of Nick’s in Bandipur, and it’s through his thoughtfulness that we could connect. She took students to Nepal to study cultural geography, in which she has a doctorate. She has a 17 year old son and a husband, the former called her once and asked for money to meet friends on a Sunday afternoon. “Ask your father,” was the response.
When she finished her degree, she decided that she wanted to teach, travel, and do research, not be stuck in a university.
She says she is not religious and took care to distinguish “secular” and “patriotic” as two types of Muslims in Turkey. She used to like the call to prayer, but now finds it political. She also said the call-to-prayer used to be shorter and at a lower volume. The current government, in power now for 10 years and backed by leading Muslim denominations, is using religion to control and intimidate the population.
She told me about “blue beam” theory and its idea of one religion for the whole world. She regained some hope about the future thanks to the Taksim Square (Gezi Park) movement and the courage of young people to stand up to armed and dangerous police.
She will lose hope again if the current govt. is reelected in summer.
She plans to retire soon, and study painting in art school, and perhaps return to Nepal for a longer stay. During our chat, the Blue Mosque was just over her shoulder. Over my shoulder was the bridge to Asia over the Bosphorus. Thank you Nezihe, for your time and all the information you shared!