"If religion is the opium of people, tradition is an even more sinister analgesic, simply because it rarely appears sinister. If religion is a tight band, a throbbing vein and a needle, tradition is a far homelier concoction: poppy seeds ground into tea; a sweet cocoa drink laced with cocaine; the kind of thing your grandmother might have made. To Samad, as to the people of Thailand, tradition was culture, and culture led to roots, and these were good, these were untainted principles. That didn't mean he could live by them, abide by them or grow in the manner they demanded, but roots were roots and roots were good. You would get nowhere telling him that weeds too have tubers, or that the first sign of loose teeth is something rotten, something degenerate, deep within the gums. Roots were what saved, the ropes one throws out to rescue drowning men, to Save Their Souls." White Teeth, 193.
Since I came back to Turkey almost a week ago, waves of emotion are washing over me. Emotion, cheap, abundant, ample seas of emotion. The flight home - as Kundera says, things lose a fraction of their meaning each time they are repeated, and I've flown back and forth too many times - but I still feel happy when I fly home. Countless dramas with their familiar, predictable plots. Old songs (they don't seem to make any good songs anymore, so they just sing the old ones over and over.) Horrible morning shows with dark singers and circular conversations. Ramadan desserts and memories from the time when all I knew was this country and didn't need to imagine further. I go to Alsancak and high school kids are hanging out just like we did six years ago.
Then I met up with two friends from high school and saw how they grew up and how they are struggling and surviving without making a big deal out of it. That was something new, something different, something refreshing. They are passing into a new stage in their lives ever so smoothly, instinctively, cheerfully.
This reminded me I should shake off this irrational, romantic, heavy cloud that sits over my head when I come to Turkey, when I think of Turkey. It's making me very lazy, and it's time I take it for what it's worth. It's the icing on the cake, but I need to earn the cake first.