Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Barber of Göreme

Heaven is not the future we imagine,
rather, Heaven is the place where we store our memories.

- Orhan Pamuk, Snow

I'm paraphrasing the line - I don't have the book on me. It was the first thing I read this morning. It was a great message to start the day with.

I posted more pics, but scaled down in size. I'm slowly learning the details of this camera.

Last night was a bit warmer than normal (I only needed two blankets), and the morning was bordering on hot. I got some good news from Hawai'i - I finally made the State Planner List, as a Level III and IV. The translation: I'm employable! It will still take me some months to score full time permanent work, but I'm one step closer.

Since it was shaping up to be such a beautiful day I decided to pamper myself, and headed to the barber for the full treatment: haircut, a shave, shampoo, and a massage. Now men: If you've never had an old-fashioned shave with a straight razor, you are missing out on one of life's true pleasures. I love every minute of it, from the feel of the razor against my skin to the burn of the cologne afterwards. And it's more then just sensual - it's also an act of faith, a test of our belief in brotherhood, to allow another man to handle an open blade that close to our neck. I know that our fathers and grandfathers enjoyed shaves; I'm not sure when the practice died out in the States. I used to get them in Indonesia, and even ten years down the road I can remember the luxury of spending a morning at the barbers. I was happy to see that the tradition is still alive in Turkey.

The barber, Mehmet, was a big bear of a man. He had blue eyes, close cropped hair, and a short beard that was redder than mine, but with thick Turkish features. And his hands were huge. When he applied the lotions, or held my head to crack my neck, his palms almost covered my entire face. Combine that with furry Popeye-sized forearms, and the guy would have been King at IML.

Except that the ladies at IML would be screaming for unscented oils, and would probably melt if splashed with cologne. Ah well. We all have our own ideas of masculinity.

So, my brothers, if you ever find yourself in one of the old countries, you need to go. End of argument. I've asked around in the states, but fear of lawsuits, government regulation, and impossible insurance rates have KO'd the practice. A schoolmate from Nepal, Sagar, once told me that he thought that our endless regulations made it very difficult for the poor to survive in the US.

He had a solid point. Our health laws and licensing do help keep the middle class safe, and I know that that is good, but it's not until you travel outside the West that you see what was lost. We aren't taught that there was a tradeoff. Our professionals are all licensed, our cafes all DOH inspected, our apartments theoretically meet minimum standards - all things I agree with. But progress has destroyed the working class economy & we haven't really mitigated for that.

Enough of that. I had lunch with a Kiwi couple that I have been running into all over the place. After I tried to walk through Pigeon Valley to Uchisar, a small town about 3 km down the road. The directions were easy - follow the canal into the valley - and I set off ...

And anybody who has been reading this knows what happened. Yes, I lost the trail. Yes, I headed down many dead ends. Yes, I tried repeatedly to scale the cliffs and although I came close ... oh so close ... I did not make it to the top. But I saw some great sights. And the fall colors were brilliant. I haven't managed to time it right to see autumn in the states in years; I wasn't expecting to find it here.

I never did make it to Uchisar. By late afternoon I turned tail and headed back to Göreme, telling myself the journey is more important than the destination, the journey is more important than the destination, the journey is more important than the destination ...


Alastair said...

By the way, the latest photographs are simply breathtaking. More please ...

Anonymous said...

I am not sure where you are but your not getting any emails, or we from you there. You made the list. 3 and 4. Let us know when you can contact us..need more info..leave your date arrival into US on the site. R C told me to do it this way. I guess it works. The other Ron wants to know if you get his emails - told him I wasn't able to get through.