Witnessing the Whirling Dervish in Bursa

August 29, 2008

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whirling-dervish-turkeyAfter a very early breakfast, we taxied to the ferry port and took the ferry to Yalova and then took taxis to the bus station and eventually arrived in Bursa around lunch time. Bursa is known for their Silk Market and cotton towels/robes etc. The silk market is mainly just scarves. We did a quick walk through and then grabbed lunch across the street. Everyone tried lamb kebab (another thing Bursa is well-known for). I had an average lentil soup. We headed back to the silk market for some shopping and my GPS nickname has returned. Gotta love that… I’ve embraced my inner geek at this point. So after much deliberation, I purchased two more scarves. This brings the grand total that I’m toting around to four. I don’t really need more stuff to carry around, but they’re cute and a few gifts and it’s not like I’m lugging a lamp around… yet! ;) One of the shops served us tea, which is always fun. I love Turkish culture. On the way back home we walked through the towel area (now that’s something I won’t be buying here!). We asked the hotel guy if he knew of a good Baklavaria. So he ended up walking us several blocks to Ali Babas (good luck finding this one again, as every other shop is called Ali Babas!) It was so nice of him. Turkey is notorious for niceness with nothing asked in return (except for in Istanbul! ha!). Anyway, the old guy at the shop ended up way undercharging us for our tea, cola, and plates of baklava. He had the biggest smile and simply asked us to please return.

After a nice afternoon nap, we went to check out the old town. We ended up walking past a victory celebration Friday performance by the castle wall. We went up to see views of the city, and then walked around near the fruit and nut stalls to go to this tea house. We watched one of N’s friends play the sitar, nay (flute-like), drums etc with his tea house “band”. The tea house is the Turkish equivalent of a pub. It’s a place for the boys to get away from their wives. And there we were, just sitting around drinking tea with a bunch of Turkish men! I hope they didn’t tell their wives. It was an interesting experience, but way too smoky, so we took turns ducking out to the vendors. I bought an apple and some pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin seed man asked if I was German. “No!” Romanian? “No, American” and he simply refused to believe it! He said, “but you no look American, it can’t be!” I’m not sure if I should be insulted or not? Good times. So after the tea house, we had kebabs at an outdoor restaurant. We ended up passing the baklavaria on the way out, so I ran in and he gave me free baklavah and refused to let me pay! I love this guy!

So we finally ended up at the Sema lodge to watch the Sufi performance. We sat outside, while he explained the significance of different aspects and then we went up into the balcony to sit in the ladies area with our head scarves on. What a different experience. The nay and other instrument band played and they sang and the lead Sufi did callings from the Koran and the dervishes whirled… for ages! It’s amazing that they can spin for so long. Afterward, N’s friend showed us the training room and practice boards with the marble in the middle to spin around. What an experience. After seeing the whirling dervish in Istanbul, it was magical to see it as it was meant to be – as a form of worship, instead of just entertainment in a huka bar.