13 Aralık 2014 Cumartesi


We usually don't give ourselves the positive feedback we need and clearly deserve. We constantly judge ourselves for not taking up any of the New Year resolutions we try committing to in the beginning of January. So, I made this list to give myself a virtual hi 5, bring you a fun week-end read, and maybe inspire you on doing one of these.

Here are the 9 things I didn't plan on doing when the year started, but I'm extremely happy I somehow did:

9. Taking a week off and staying in İstanbul

We should feel happy for the "not-so-difficult" or maybe "ordinary" decisions we make as well, right? This one's in that category. Taking this week off at the end of October refreshed me, cleared my mind. And the good thing is there were no plans, I was at home. There was no rush of having to wake up early and sleep late as I usually have in a regular vacation day. No plans. Just reading, sports, reunion with friends. Coolio.

8. The Concert weekend

This one is the more costly and outlier one. Going on a concert trip is a big risk. It was worth it…

And the concert was a good luck charm for the #1 action on this list as well! No….. Don't jump straight to #1, save the best for the last!

7. Taking up running

I tired running last year, but it was just too tiring, boring and hurtful. I was just doing it to be part of the trend. And as you will rightly guess, I never ran more than 1 time in the same week or sometimes in the same month. After "the" spiritual training at work (which we all have, right?) awakened me, I said OK… Let's try again… And then it happened, so far 40 km/month is good, right? It was 3 km in a month for God's sake (I have to indicate the running rate from last year. Because it's my DNA now.)

6. This is business related, so I won't bore you with it.

5. The 4 month dough break

After eating too much McDonalds, and too much bad stuff one day I said: no, not any more. I stopped eating bread. My actual intention was to stop gluten. I had extremely clear and logical reasons behind it: Djokovic did it and became the world's #1 player. (I secretly want to become the #1 Duracell ABM in the world by a gluten diet.) Then I had to eat gluten at breakfast (müsli), so I said no dough. I had no bread, pasta (can you believe it), pizza, börek (can you believe it), cake for a long time. And it felt good. I lost only 1 kg, because I ate some other bad shit (french fries, kilos of dried nuts etc.) Now, another round of dough diet began, 1 month and going…

I had to be creative on weekend breakfasts, because they had formerly relied heavily on Simit:

4. The "CHILL" Reunion

Bringing one of the best times of my life, Australia, to the the land where I love the most in the world, North Aegean, to have the best food and meet the best people. And all we did was chill. And eat.

3. Greece

Let's cross from one side of the North Aegean to the other. Here, I will just paste the link of the earlier entry: 

After writing this, I went to Greece again. Same places in fall. They were still beautiful and they all continued to taste awesome.

2. Getting a bicycle

Surprising, right? This battled for the top spot in the list, and finally I decided that it's definitely in the top 2! Getting a bike was BEYOND EXPECTATIONS. As Kadıköy, Maltepe leave a biking lane in the main roads, it gets more and more convenient. And it helped me get in shape a little as well! Also relieve some stress at times...

1. Cannes Lions

Yes… Number one…

Number one is of course around my business passion: creative brand solutions. Last year when we participated and found out that we were in top 3 but not the winner, Esra immediately had told me we had to get ready for next year. We realized right away what we did wrong. We had more than one benefit. Rookie mistake! We laid out strategies, did our thinking… We were ready to win this year. We were in the mindset since the beginning of the year.

And it was the competition week… We received the brief. It took us some time to find the best business idea, but more time to find the campaign idea. At the end, when we were going to present, we were all ready. There was just one problem: I had to fly to Germany on Saturday (see #9), so we had to be the first ones to present. They helped us with the rescheduling. We were the first presenters, and I was already on the flight to Germany before we even knew how it went.

Couple of days later, we found out about the result… we were going to Cannes - Cannes Lions!

And when it was time to go to Cannes in June… everybody was extremely supportive both at work and outside. In Cannes, we didn't have the best luck with the project/assignment because it was partially skewed to the food sector and we had to prepare a project  for the company we were working for. But the thrill of representing the country, and presenting to an international jury; these were all awesome.

Next to that, we had to chance to experience a lot of wonderful stuff including:

HERE IS TO 2015!

13 Eylül 2014 Cumartesi

KOMŞU: edition #hellas

I had the chance to visit 3 neighboring countries this summer. 2 of them because of work: Georgia and Azerbaijan, and 1 because I was simply longing to go there since the start of the time: Greece. I wanted to go to Greece not because I thought it was the best place in the world, I was just curious. I was curious if we were really the same people with different religions across the two sides of the Aegean. You will see how I feel now, when you finish reading the entry.

So, it was an emotional day for us, August 10th, leaving the country. We had just voted for the Presidential elections in the morning, lost again like we had lost in the previous I don't know how many times, and we were about to cross the border. It felt like we were at the right place at the right time.

We had made our booking to make sure we stay somewhere close the first night and that place was Dedeağaç (Alexandroupolis). It was around 10PM when we arrived there, and the streets were live as expected.. but not loud. It was a nice summer evening with good tunes in the background. Anyway we hit the beach which Fırat had discovered during his first time here. It was basically heaven on earth. We were having beers at the most tranquil beach on the world at around midnight, which also happened to have the best taste in music. I had never listened to so many good songs in a row in a long while. The place I'm talking about is next to the port, a small place by itself. (No we don't remember the name) Unfortunately the photo is too dark and silent to elaborate on my description.

Next morning after some good breakfast... OK the basic food first. Water: So the water tastes different. Good different, like less minerals, neater. Cheese is cheese. Feta is feta. And then there are the fat olives, eat one for the whole breakfast. Continuing... after the breakfast we hit the road towards Kavala. On our way, we stopped at Gümülcine (Komotini) for lunch. There was this one gyros place open, and the guy was fluent in Turkish, almost no accent. There showed my ignorance. I never ever knew that the Turkish speaking / ethnic background community in Greece was so crowded. I always thought only as many Turks lived there as many Greeks live here. Apparently not. It's very diverse close to the Turkish border. Anyway...

There we are in Kavala, which is this cute old city which looks like one of the small towns on the Southern Italian coast or Cote d'Azur. But it's not, because there is an old lady shouting at us from the balcony in Turkish because she saw the Turkish license plate of the car. She has an accent, but she's still fluent. We are still surprised, but by that time getting used to it. Here is a quick look at Kavala:

One thing about Kavala is that it was the hometown to the famous Mehmet Ali Paşa, who was so successful that he became the emperor of the Egyptian state and rose to power in a way that he could stand against the Sultan. OK, I'm still not on top of the whole story.

While we were walking around Mehmet Ali Paşa's monuments and walking up to the castle, all we went through were streets surrounded by awesome houses...

and awesome streets (these houses are a bit Ottoman / Turkish no?)

ok not awesome, but very beautiful

then we had to pose stuff like this, sitting on the stairs, simply because the colors were so vivid and it smelled like Instagram all around.

Walking back to the car, apparently we took the wrong street. We walked down until we realized it was a dead end, leading to some stairs. Of course, we were curious where the stairs were leading. IT LED TO HERE:

We had no towels or anything. Of course it wasn't the time to think about towels. It took us 5 seconds to decide that we were going to dive right ahead. We were inside the city, and the water was perfect. There was a big family barbecuing on the rocks by the sea. Probably dream life. We snuck next to them, and went into the sea. And of course the lady swimming is talking to us in Turkish. You would stop getting surprised here, but no: she has a Northern (Trabzon) accent. Apparently they are part of the Pontus community who migrated to Greece 20 years ago. So many things not told to us about the history of the land we live in. So many lives, civilizations moving, being pushed from one place to another. Of course, it's both ways.

After Kavala, we headed to Selanik (Thessaloniki). After this much spontaneous fun, we didn't have further expectations from Selanik or Khalkidiki. But of course they were going to surprise us too.

First stop is Selanik.

This is from the boardwalk of the city. It does look like İzmir a lot. Guess why? I don't want to say it. A beautiful coast line for the pedestrians, large avenues and squares next to the sea and narrower streets parallel to the coast. A lot of similarities. We didn't stay a lot in Selanik, but we of course saw the house of Atatürk, and the old sites at the city center. At a point we thought this big statue of Venizelos was Atatürk's - we were foolish :) .

After a night in Selanik, we started driving to Khalkidiki where we would stay for a couple of days. Of course our hotel owner was speaking Turkish, needless to mention. But this time he was one of the only people there who could speak. As we got further away from the border, the number of Turkish speakers decreased. Cutting to the chase... we have discovered the best place in the entire world in every manner close to Kallithea: Molos Beach.

We were there for two days, which had again the best music, best fruits and drinks. Of course we had a lot of Frappes along the way. It also had a very good environment, young fresh and cool. No hesitations about letting 3 guys in. No high maintenance. It was a good place to be. This is where the beach was located. (credit is Fırat's of course)

After these couple of holy days in Kallithea, we were starting our way back. Unfortunately. We said: OK one day in Thassos and one day in Dedeağaç (Alexandroupoli). We first went to Keramoti to get on the ferry to Thassos. But judging that 60 Euros would be too much for a day trip to Thassos we decided to stay in Keramoti, which was as you can imagine a wise decision. We were at Keramoti, right across Thasos. No beach club. We were on our chairs, chilling. That's what I adored about the place, you can do that anywhere. Just like Aegean in Turkey, only calmer. Almost exactly like North Aegean of Turkey, a bit cleaner.

Thanks to Fırat, we also went to İskeçe (Xanthi), it was close and there was no reason not to go. This landlocked city looked a lot like a coastal area, with every single person either out on the streets or in balconies. It was just too nice. This time we were not surprised any more to find out that one fifth of the place was Turkish.

We spent the night in İskeçe, where we stayed at a hotel owned by a +80 year old doctor, who studied medicine in İstanbul. His Turkish was very good, especially for a person who hasn't been to Turkey in the last +50 years. He knew more phrases than we did. Later, he was describing the situation Greece was in. Apparently EU help was covering a lot of people's needs, and people didn't have to work too much, all they needed to be happy was the olive oil and the ouzo... Who wouldn't be happy having this super duo?

After getting all these insights, we went to Alexandroupoli for one last dive and after that... we were in the Duty Free shop before we knew it.

Most of the places are 4-5 hours away from İstanbul... so... think about it, if you haven't already.

12 Nisan 2014 Cumartesi

I have finished my 2014 Oscars list - A MONTH LATE

Yes I watched some more movies, and I was supposed to publish this 1.5 months earlier than today so I could catch the Oscars, and make my predictions. Yeah, I could not. 12 Years A Slave didn’t work on my TV. So now here are my takes on the 3 remaining movies I was going to write about. Only 12 Years A Slave, I wrote after the Oscars. So in the other ones, you can feel my innocent lust for DiCaprio winning an Oscar. WHICH DID NOT HAPPEN.

12 Years A Slave: I really don’t feel like writing about this movie. It brings too much misery, and too much shame to humanity. The movie is very good - don’t get me wrong. It’s just very good in giving that sad emotion. Probably the best thing that I liked about the movie was the editing - since this was not the first movie I watched which was about slavery. By editing, I mean the passages of scenes from different times. I hope that’s what it’s called. Otherwise, the acting was very good. Especially the lead character and Patsey. For me Nyong’o wasn’t the clear leader of the Oscar race having seen both American Hustle and this movie. I think they were head to head, and even maybe JLaw a bit ahead on the race. Probably they didn’t want to spoil her too young. Meryl Streep winning her second Oscar at age 34, and JLaw.. what - 24? That wouldn’t make sense.
Coming back to the movie, it always strikes you when you know it’s a real story. The cast, the art direction and the music give you the feeling in ease.
You see, I still feel sad..

MVP: Joe Walker for Film Editing
MVP: Lupita Nyong’o for Supporting Actress

The Wolf of Wall Street: This movie will seem like too much sex, too many boobs, too much drugs, too many pills. Until you find about it is all fucking real. Yes, there was a Jordan Belfort, there was a crazy ass yacht named after his second wife which sank near Sardinia. How crazy can human lives be.
Yeah.. The movie shows that in its great fashion where the lead character narrates even looking into the camera. It’s a nice Scorsese move with a top notch execution from DiCaprio. Then comes the sex, and then come the drugs. Throughout the movie, you feel the rush, you feel the unease of earning the money and not enjoying that fully because i. you are not fully sober ii. the money isn’t that big of a deal anymore. Even when you are watching it! This of course comes to life thanks to the brilliant direction of the movie and exceptional acting figures - DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and the beautiful Margot Robbie. I’m just not sure if the movie ever needed Jean Dujardin and his character. Probably they wanted to add some class with some Francophones.
Anyway... Of course the shining star of the movie is the kid of the whole fucking universe: Leo. Now we know thanks to Uberfacts that he was named Leonardo, because his mom was looking at a Da Vinci portrait when the little Leo kicked for the first time. It feels like he is the child of all nations, every single person on earth wants him to finally win an Oscar. And if he doesn’t win this, then Academy should go to hell. Four scenes: 1. Boat scene 2. Motivation speeches at the office 3. Lemmon scene (ALL of it) 4. Kid scene. There are my four reasons why anyone should watch this brilliant movie, and why he should finally win an Oscar.
Scorsese is also good, you know.. You already know him.. and he does have an Oscar, so...

and DiCaprio can dance.

MVP: Leonardo DiCaprio for Lead Actor

Captain Philips: I just finished watching this movie, and I’m writing this in dark. So I’m still in full effect and a minor shock - not as much as Captain Philips was anyway. This was a very good action/thriller movie. Apart from the first ten-fifteen minutes, the action starts and it never stops until the last minute. You probably know how it ends if you followed the coverage of this while it was really happening 5 years back. It really is a horrible being unarmed and having to fight these 3-4 guys who are in the ocean, in their fishermen boat, and come aboard your ship itself. So, let me first give it all the crews who are trailing this African route and all the other ones with similar issues.
Coming back to the movie - as you see I’m still terrified - the plot, ending is a classic American action movie with patriotism. You might say “OK, they heroed their Navy again” but that wasn’t even the best part. In my opinion, the best part was when the guys were on the ship for the first time and all the crew unarmed. Very good acting from both pirates and the crew. Especially the head pirate. From beginning to end. In all the drama of the “good people”, the actor playing the head pirate, Barkhad Abdi, has managed to tell his own story in the movie. He was epic. And I probably don’t even have to mention that this was his first acting experience and he used to be a Limo driver until this movie. He had no experience and NO ASPIRATION to become an actor. I don’t know how he got there, but he should be thankful now. Not many Somalian speakers in the US, I guess - nice luck you got there, cast manager.
Tom Hanks is you know he is Tom Hanks. But that the “shock” scene... How good is that one. Very original.

MVP: Barkhad Abdi for Supporting Actor

6 Şubat 2014 Perşembe

#3: Survivor Man... Chapada Diamantina Vol. 2

Bu yazı uzun olacak, şimdiden uyaralım. Geldik listede 3 numaraya. Beklentileri yükseltelim, verelim setting'i. Güzelim Rio'dan çıkmışım yola. Önce Salvador'a uçacağım (Fumaça yazısında anlatmıştım Salvador'a dair bildiklerimi.), sonra da oradan otobüs bileti bulup Lençois kasabasına gideceğim ki Chapada Diamantina Parkı'na varalım..

Salvador'a uçtuk, uçak kolay. Şehrin üstünden geçtik uç uç bitmedi, havaalanı uzakmış. Otobüs terminaline gitmek üzere belediye otobüsüne doğru gittim. Derken belediye otobüsü sırası beni korkuttu. Taksiye karar verdim. Adama daha ben Estaçao derken, fiyat tarifesini gösterdi. Hala istiyor musun dedi. 85 Real'miş. Neyse dedim bir yerime mecazen kaçsın gerçek olarak kaçacağına. Paşa paşa gittik dönüşte otobüsle gelirim zaten diyip o maliyeti ikiye bölerek kafamdaki defans mekanizmalarını kudurtarak. İyi ki gitmişim ama çünkü çok trafik vardı, baya trafik vardı.

Terminale vardığımda Ida, Volta, Onze, Trenta.. falan diye diye baya rahat bileti aldım. Portekizce phrase book ve uçakta dinlediğim cümleler işe yaramıştı. Çünkü bunlar İtalyanlar İspanyollar gibi değil yazdıkları gibi okunmuyor. Ğiyu c Jıneyu diye okudukları şey mesela Rio de Janeiro. Derken Brezilya'da sokaklarda gördüğüm tek İngilizce bilen insanla karşılaştım. O BANA SORU SORDU. BEN ONA DEĞİL. Tabii dedim, bilet üst katta dedim, yavrum sen Salvador'un neresindensin dedim.

Şaka maka 11 Lençois arabasına bindim. Gözünü sevdiğimin interneti sağolsun yanıma havlu almıştım nolur nolmaz diye. Havalandırma kapağı yoktu koltuğumun üstünde, olduğu gibi hava içerde. Havlu, şapka ne varsa öyle uyudum. Varılan durakları söylemedikleri için (İzmir-İstanbul sahilden gelen otobüs gibiydi 24 duraklı) tevekkül ederek gözlerimi kapadım ve gerçekten Lençois'i şans eseri kaçırmadım.

İner inmez garip bir his. Sabahın 5:15'i, ben dışarıyı korkuyla bekliyorum. Ama aslında sokaklar boş, herkesi birileri almaya gelmiş yürüyerek kasabaya gidiyorlar. Taksi ister misiniz diye soran bir adama tamam dedim ne de olsa valiz büyük. Çünkü backpack'i olan herkes gibi değildim ben, sürülen valizle gitmişim. 20 real dedi, yok dedim sen naptın. 10'a indirmenin verdiği zaferle bindim ve 1 dakika sonra indim, zira 300 metreymiş otel.

Valla geceyi otobüste geçircem diye otelden oda kiralamamıştım o gün için ne yalan söyleyeyim, onun için salonda koltuk verdiler bir tane uyuyayım diye. 1 buçuk saat rahat uyudum kahvaltı hazırlayan ablalarım gelene kadar.

Sonra da 8 gibi Chapada Diamantina parkı için girişimlere başladık. İki-üç tur ayarlayabileceklerini söylediler yarım günlük, dedim yok olmaz tam gün olsun. Sonra acentaya gidip pazarlık. Yemek dahil mi (burada Turist Ömer gidilen yerde insan yerleşimi ve dolayısıyla restoran olduğunu varsayıyor - sonra yola çıkmadan elime sandviç verdiler, daha güzelini bana vermişlermiş, babayın restoranı var orda), bütün gün sürecek mi (burada da Ömer arkadaşımız araba ve/veya dolmuşla vb. gezileceğini varsayıyor).. Neyse bana Martin adındaki Şilili arkadaşı verdiler rehber olarak.

Sonra biz yürümeye başladık.

İki-üç kilometre sonra tabii ben nolduğunu hala anlamaya çalışırken, Martin'e etrafı sordum. Dedim biz gidiyoz böyle çalıların arasından, yok mudur burda hayvan falan. Tabii var dedi. Kertenkele.. Kuş.. Kurbağa.. Fare.... :) Yılan....... :):) Bir de ölümcül örümcekler........ :):):) Martincim.. Burada benim asabımı bozduğundan habersiz.

Sonra dağını taşını anlatmaya başladı. Burası, dedi, bu koca park, olduğu gibi tek taş üzerine kurulu. Aynı taş. Taşın üstünde conglomerate da var (çok taştan oluşmuş ayrı taşlar).

Bu ikincisi:
Bu da o bahsettiği tek taş:

Yolculuğun zorlu olacağı şokunu atlattıktan sonra ben:

Ormana doğru yardırırken biz:

Dedim peki nereye gidiyoruz, ne çıkacak. Çok güzel bir şelale var dedi Martin, bir de doğal göller görcez. Derken ip gibi su akmaya başladı etraftaki taşların üzerinde. Ama kahverengi mi sarı bir şey.. Meğer oradaki suların hepsi öyleymiş ve yaprakların suya karışması / erimesi ile çok uzun seneler sonunda bu rengi almış. Geldiğimiz ilk gölcük de aşağıdaki gibi.

Dedim heralde buraya girmicez. Yoo dedi olayı bu tertemiz su, içebilirsin de.. Sonra sıcakta terden sırılsıklam olmanın da verdiği itelemeyle girdik içeri.

Sonra yolculuğa devam ettik. Bu fotoğrafı, eğimi göstermek için koydum. Bir sıkıntı yok, çok dik değil. Ama sürekli eğim var. Onun için tenis ayakkabılarım günün sonunda bowling ayakkabılarına döndü.

Derkenn... Geldik o meşhur şelaleye. Gerçekten çok güzel şelaleydi. Çok iyi görüntüsü, sesi vardı. Bir de işin güzeli önünde hemen Tarzan filmlerindeki gibi bir göl vardı ve girilebiliyordu. Önce etraftaki insanları kestim, onların nasıl fotolar çekildiğine baktım. Sonra the perfect Instagram pozunu belirledim. Şelaleye kadar yüzdüm, sonra kafama kafama vuran şelalenin altında kayaya tırmandım. Kaya tabii kaygandı.. Yok, yok, düşmedim.. :)

Sonra fotoğrafımı çekildim Martin sağ olsun.

Geri dönerken de kayaların üstünden seke seke gelirken en son kayada dengemi kaybedip gölün sığ kısmına sırt üstü düştüm çok iyi oldu, çok da güzel oldu. Tabii bunlar Instagram'da yok hohoho

Dinlendik, kayamızda uzandık, yemeğimizi yedik. O yemek bir güzel geldi - sandviçin tadı hala damağımda. Ablacım gerçekten güzel sandviçi bana vermiş.. domatesi, patlıcanı, mozarellayı, kekiği basmış.. Yanına da ayıptır söylemesi passion fruit suyu..

Sonra dönüşe hazırlandık. Martin arkadaşım arkasından atlı koşturuyor gibi gidiyordu. Ben yorulmuşum düşmüşüm iyice ne biliyim git gel 12 km kaya üstünde tırmanacağımızı. Dedi bu dağın yerlileri "taco" diye evlerde yaşıyorlarmış, hala da var yaşayan. Görelim mi dedi bak şu sol üstte var. Tamam dedim yakındaki bir kayayı görerek. O KAYA DEĞİLMİŞ. Hiçbir şekilde yol olmayan bir yere tırmanmaya başladık. Dağ evi görecez diye. Hayır sen kimsin her boka evet diyosun. O anki hislerimi çok net hatırlıyorum... Hayır sen kimsin :) Sen Yes Man misin, o eve çıkınca içerden Zooey Deschanel mi çıkacak kafasında kaskıyla. Neyse taco, maco gördük..

Dönüş yolunda başka bir şelaleye uğradık.

Burada şelale tam denmeyecek olan bu akıntı üstünde millet kayıyordu oturarak, tabii müdavimleri ayakta kayıyordu.

Otele dönüş yolu ben..

Ve son düzlük. Artık sağ ayağım çekmeye başlamıştı. Çünkü o kırmızı toprağı ayağımı sürdüğüm için kaldırdığımı hatırlıyorum. Baya net, çoraplar toprak kortta oynamış gibi olmuş.. Martin hala benden 1 km önde yürüyor..

Ama o akşam bir uyudum. İlk defa deliksiz uyku çektim o yorgunlukla. Hamakta Kindle keyfi önce..

Bu da gece görüşü ile Lençois.. Valla filter yok, valla ben çektim.. Cidden.. Ama güzeldi ya, bir daha olsa da gitsek..