On Mount Olympos

Travel Note Throwback

These steps are too high, surely not for human legs to climb. I can go no more”, I resigned and sat on an adjacent rocky platform. It was pitch-dark and not even my hands were visible to me. Thankfully Arijit was holding one of them in his firm fist, and stood silently by my side. Our guide had moved ahead, and now I could see his flash light beaming, as he was returning to us.IMG_2121

There were many tourists without any assist light with them, and were struggling in that dark unwinding steps. People had come for a relaxed beach vacation on this part of Turkey, and this place is only an optional sight-seeing spot. No one probably realised that climbing up Olympos Mountain would be this real a trek. We were in the Antalya City of Turkey, and it was past 8 in the evening then. We were climbing the Olympos Mountain to see Chimera, the fire breathing monster, and the fire that is still burning!

But we were only half way through then. Encouraged by seeing me resting, a few other fellow travellers came to seat near my stone top.

“Didn’t I tell you to smoke less”, a lady scolded her friend. It was late October, and there was slight chill in the wind. Some more flickering flash lights passed by. The woman who was guilty of being a heavy smoker was completely breathless and was panting frantically, all red. I offered her my water bottle.

“We should hurry, or my torch battery would give away”, said our guide. So, we all got up and started following him. The way was narrow, and some turns were particularly dicey; had I not been in my trainers, would sure have hurt my ankles by then. Our guide was actually our hotel appointed driver, but he offered to lead us with his torch, for which I am particularly grateful. He was showing us which stones not to step on, and correcting our wrong turns. I thought we have almost reached, when I saw some tourists descending.

“These are the same steps climbed by Bellerophon on his way to fight Chimera, the monster. These have been restored in recent times,” our guide mentions, reaching the top of the last few steps.

Ah! That explains. I knew these steps can’t be made for normal human to climb, and I was no Greek hero! (Although, I had started feeling like one by then!)

As we reached the top of Olympos, there it was! Chimera, or the flaming rocks – Yanartaş.

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A remarkable natural phenomenon, that has been recorded at least for last 4000 years in thIMG_2132e Yanartaş area, in Turkey. Scattered points from where fire emerges from within the rock gaps, and burns incessantly, with some flames springing as high as 3 feet. While you might be tempted to try and might even succeed in dousing the small flames completely, they will start burning again within minutes.

The Mythological Story:

This area in Turkey called Yanartaş is thought to be the same place – Lycia from ancient times. In the story from Ilyad, Bellerophon, a kind young boy had angered his ruthless king Proetus of Tiryns while protecting Pegassus, the divine horse from his capture. While he had been looked upon kindly by Goddess Athena, and was blessed by her to be able to ride the untameable flying horse Pegassus, the King was infuriated all the more when his Queen took special interest on Bellerophon. The King, avoiding killing a guest directly, sent him to King Lobates, his father in law, with a letter in hand. What Bellerophon didn’t know is that Proetus had asked King Lobates to ‘kill the letter bearer’. Lobates in his turn, unwilling to displease the Gods by killing a guest, hatched a plan.

Lycia at that time was troubled by a ferocious fire breathing monster – Chimera. As Homer described, Chimera had a lion’s head, goat’s body, and tail of a serpent! Bellerophon was sent by Lobates to kill Chimera, hoping that he will die in the quest. He didn’t. With the help of Pegassus, hero Bellerophon succeeded in defeating Chimera instead. He choked Chimera throwing block of lead down its throat.

As the myth goes, some says that the monster still lives and is only sent deep under the earth by Bellerophon, and that it is still breathing fire through the gaps in the mountain.

Apart from this story of Chimera, the belief of the eternal fire burning in Mount Olympos, the home of the Gods also befits the name of this place.

However, I’m only too sure that you have already figured out the presence of methane and other volcanic gases to be the real cause behind this natural phenomenon. Although, Greek mythology never fails to fascinate, does it! BEN104198

How to reach: 

Chimera, also known as Yanartas locally, is within a small village – Chireli in Antalya province of Turkey. Antalya International Airport (IATA: AYT; ICAO: LTAI) is the closest airport.

You can rent a car at the Antalya International Airport. From Antalya International Airport, follow signs to Kemer. After passing Kemer, drive 30km in the direction of Ulupinar. After passing Ulupinar, the next sign will be for Cirali. Turn left at the sign, then drive another 7km downhill until you cross a small bridge. After crossing, you are in Cirali.

there are several hotels in Cirali. However, if you have planned to stay in the old town Kaleici in Antalya, or near any other beach, visiting Yanartas can be fitted in a day’s itinerary.

Other places of interest in Cirali village are the ruins of Mount Olympos, Cirali beach, which is the nesting ground of Caretta caretta turtle, a rare species, and also nearby Phaselis beach, known for it’s transparent pristine water, and private beach experience.

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The Little Act of Kindness

The Blogging 201 course is almost at it’s end. All the hard works, and sleepless nights towards fulfilment of one dream – having a perfect blog, being a perfect blogger, is slowly gaining a perspective. To some success comes overnight, some has to toil harder to get it. But for every blogger one thing is common. We all love our blogs like a farmer loves his field. We love our blogs most.

Content with that self love in mind, when we come across someone else’s blog, that truly takes our breath away as a reader, when we can’t help but appreciate the words, the look and feel, the content of that blog more than anything, and above all it inspires us to have a bigger goal about our own blog – often we get lost for words. Comments don’t come easy. Pressing the like button doesn’t seem enough.

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Out of many favourites of mine, two such blogs are Quantum Hermit, and Wisdom’s Quill. If you just for once drop by Fimnora Westcaw’s blog Quantum Hermit, be prepared to get trapped in her beautifully woven stream of words, like some soothing music. “Your own journey becomes part of mine as mine becomes part of yours”, thinks Fimnora. Her about page is simply breathtaking, have a look.

I thought of copying a few words to give you a sample of Brian’s voice in Wisdom’s Quill, but I am not sure where to stop my selection cursor, to quote. I like all his words. Very masculine and strong, yet sensitive – exactly what we want, haa haa! “I live for the moments when I’m outside in nature, and suddenly realize that I’m no longer outside, but inside; inside the very entity that birthed me. These moments inspire me, because they are bigger than me.  They produce within me, feelings that were never meant to be contained, so this is why I write.  Not just words, but I write feelings” – that’s BE, our Brian, with a fiery quill indeed.

I like reading them, so it came as a surprise, a fun surprise when they chose to nominate me for Liebster Award! They did, last week, making me wordless to thank them enough. Thus, two Liebster Awards in my kitty. And I get to nominate a total of twenty-two (Yay!) of my many favourite blogs (that’s eleven nominees for each Liebster), to “pay it forward”, as Fimnora puts it.

My nominees:

  1. Albert’s New York
  2. The Expat Partners Survival Guide
  3. Alpha Female, Mainstream Cat
  4. Animate your Life
  5. And Just a touch of Crazy
  6. Berning Along
  7. Extracts from a Personal Diary
  8. Emovere
  9. Flavoured Lemons
  10. Hannah*Mumbi
  11. Hogrider Dookes
  1. I am barely Keeping Up
  2. Journey of a Squivelist
  3. My Toronto Life
  4. My Take My Thoughts
  5. Nicole Riget’s Blog
  6. Pipoy the Explorer
  7. Silver Lining Mama
  8. Sinroze
  9. So Very Deep (In The Closet)
  10. The Champa Tree
  11. The ElFonian

To my nominees: Nominating you is another way of my telling you that I really enjoy reading your blogs. I am not a lover of rules and obligation myself. Hence, I will totally understand if you donLiebster2‘t want to participate in this. Award posts are really lengthy and take a lot of time. We all understand that. However, if you choose to participate, (thank you :), and congratulations!) please feel free to mention 11 random facts about yourself or your blog, as you choose, along with 11 other nominated blogs. Other details on blog awards, you can find here.

Now, my answers to Fimnora’s set of questions:

1. What song defines who you are, and would you share a youtube link for it?

I’m alive, by Celine Dion and Let it Go from Frozen are two of my very favourite songs. Also, I hope you dance, by Ronan Keating.

2. Which of your owns posts is your favorite, and why?

Initially I don’t like any of my posts, they don’t seem good enough. Then as you all start liking them, I like them too 🙂

3. What is your most favorite quote from a movie? What is the movie?

“From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole I’ve been told what I must do and who I must be. I’ve been shrunk, stretched, scratched, and stuffed into a teapot. I’ve been accused of being Alice and of not being Alice but this is my dream. I’ll decide where it goes from here” – Alice in Alice in Wonderland

4. If you could time travel, where would you go, and why?

I don’t like to ride a time machine. Whoever has, has ended up in trouble. No, no, bad idea for me. I am perfectly good here and now.

5. What is one moment you can remember which changed your life?

Everything we become today are for all the small momentary changes in the past. Everything that happened, good and bad has made me what I am today. 

6. Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?

Difficult question ! No Idea 🙂

7. What is your favorite genre of fiction?

Historical, Thriller, Detective, Women’s Fiction, Drama, Autobiography

8. Who or what encouraged you to become a writer?

Eyes of the boy 😉

9. What book have you read more than once?

David Copperfield

10. What other art form are you most interested in?

Movie making

11. What prompt for blogging would you like to offer to Blogging U?

“‘The rule breaker’ – Talk about the biggest rebel that you have known, and how he/she has influenced your life. If you think you are the biggest rebel, tell us the reason that prompts you to break rules”

Wisdom’s Quill Questions answered:

Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes, gorgeous feelings to have. But they are called infatuations.

Would you ever start another blog? No idea about future

What makes you angry? Hardly I get angry these days. But lies and dishonesty used to make me angry when I was younger.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Was an extrovert, but experience teaches you to grow introvert, I guess. Will call myself an ambivert person, for now.

What would be the coolest super power to possess? This I have already blogged about, before. I would love to cast a spell like Harry Potter, and end all radicalism in pretext of religion.

In another life, what animal would you be? Elephant

Would you rather be early, on-time, or fashionably late? On – time

Which one of your 5 senses would you be saddest to lose? Sixth sense, haa haa.

If you were Noah, which animal would you leave behind? As would be God’s command. Otherwise none. 

What is your favorite genre of literature? Novels

When you travel, do you prefer driving or flying? Driving.

And lastly to my readers: Thank you for sticking with me for so long, and being such a patient listener.

Love

Odd One

Something very special happened in Arabic class yesterday. I went there after bunking two previous classes. I wasn’t busy though, and I’m finding learning Arabic rather easy and interesting. Still I was discouraged. Anyways, that’s beside the point, as like all obstacles, small or big, I have overcome even this. So, I was saying that something happened in the institute that made me very happy. You know what! A girl around my age spoke to me inside the elevator yesterday. A tall fair girl in deep blue knee length skirt, and french braid, she was naturally beautiful. She said she is from England, and that her sister stays in Mumbai. She said she loves visiting Mumbai. I told the her about my recent trip to London, and how I enjoyed it. Small talks in the brief moment held inside the elevator. Nothing special you might think. But to feel how I felt, to know why it was so special to talk to Isabelle, you will have to know from the beginning.

Not knowing Arabic is hardly a constraint in Doha. I see more Europeans, Indians, Pakistanis or Philippines than the Arabic speaking Qatari nationals around me, every day. Everybody speaks English in bits and pieces here, even the cDeathtoStock_NotStock7ab driver or the fish seller. Indians from Kerala are a majority. If you speak the language, and love their food (Dosa and Uttapam – yumm !) you won’t need to step out of your comfort zone at all. Bengali is another common language here, not because there are too many Calcuttans like me out here. Hardly any. But Bangladeshis are really a majority. So much so, that I can spend an entire day without having to utter a single word outside my vernacular. Lucky for me, our language has not changed, even though the countries have parted. Hah!

So my intention to learn Arabic was purely for fun and knowledge, and of course to mingle with people from different culture and racial background. Thanks to my recent travel and trips, I had managed to miss the very first class of Arabic Language in Fanar – Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre. Naturally I was little apprehensive in the next class, which was my first. I reached early, and the teacher had not yet entered. There were some 30 girls of different nationalities, brunettes and blondes, tall and short, elegant and tomboyish. Some were in Jeans, some in beautiful dresses or in gorgeous golden embroidered abayas. It was an excellent affair!

I went in, totally prepared to make some good friends and sat next to a familiar looking face. Some faces are just that – seems you know them from before. She had long black hair and large eyes on an olive face.

“Hi there! I’m Arundhati. It’s my first class today.”IMG_36816895586243

She looked at me, and said nothing.

“Were you there in the last class? How much has been taught?” I tried again.

“Nothing much. Where are you from?” she spokethis time.

“India”

“I see. Hey, excuse me”, she got up to sit with some other group of girls, whom apparently she had already befriended in the earlier class.

Then some more girls came in, and they all were talking and giggling amongst themselves. No one looked at me, no one spoke to me. Not that day, not the next day, or the day after that. They see me in class, they see me replying correctly in Arabic when the teacher asks, before and after the class, inside elevator, they see me when my eyes meet theirs and I give my habitual smile. They don’t. Do they see me at all ? Or am I simply invisible to them! But why ?! They don’t even know me, it can’t be anything personal.

Lending a polite smile even to a stranger upon eye contact, is not a part of Indian culture. (Careful, it is frowned upon in Middle East). We learn moral science and social studies in junior school, but social etiquettes – not explicitly as much. Besides, all Indian kids don’t get to attain Kindergartens either. No, not yet.  Still we learn, we copy our learned colleagues. We try to develop. We are developing, aren’t we?

Anyways, coming back to my story, after a few days I realised we are not a group of expats  in this Arabic language school. But we are separate groups of Pakistanis, Iranian and Egyptians, Europeans.

Indian? Well, this unfortunate Indian is alone in the class. Sans a community and no one to talk to, I observe others keenly. Irrespective of accents and hair colour, I feel I know them all from before – girls just like me or my class mates from back in India.

In front of the teacher we practice our conversation skill.

“Anti min aye balad?” Which country are you from?

I reply, “Ana min Al Hind”. I am from The India.

“Fursa Saeeda” – Nice to meet you, they say.

“I have the honour to meet you”, I reply. Tashar Rafna 🙂

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Image Source: http://thereisonlyhumanrace.blogspot.com/

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[Names and descriptions of person used in this article are fictitious in nature]

Castle News # January ’15

Hello Everybody,

How was the first month of 2015 for you?

For me it had been quite hectic. Well, it wasn’t all work and no play altogether though. January being my Birthday month, there had been some partying around too, and a short trip to London, of course. 146H

But more studying and less fun, for sure, with Blogging 101 course running at a full speed on each weekday, along with my Arabic lessons. Blogging 101 was difficult because it required to do three things simultaneously – be a tech expert, be creative and also a good marketing guy.  That makes both sides of your brain march left and right, whew! But I learnt so much; we all did.

Showcasing my newly learnt knowledge, this post is the first of my monthly round-up feature – Castle News. Here, apart from wrapping up my last month’s posts, I shall recommend my favourite blogs and blog posts of the month, and also give you an idea on my next month’s blogging schedule.

Let’s go –

Looking back at January:

There had been a total of nine posts last month (nine posts only – what a shame!). I am just going to jolt them down, in case if you have missed before, (Now, here’s hoping you are too eager to read every little words that I write; well, a girl can only hope – ahem) or are visiting my blog for the first time.

Blogs and blog posts I liked last month:

Following this post, I will publish a whole new post, nominating all my favourite WP bloggers for two different awards. Stick with me…

February Blogging Calendar: w-somerset-maugham-love-quotes-we-are-not-the-same-persons-this-year

I shall start my blogging week from Tuesdays, featuring Weekly posts on Doha Days.

Throwback Travel Notes on alternate Thursdays will be a series on travel stories. February highlights – Turkey!

Will keep my Fridays free for random musings, for now. However, a fiction Friday won’t be a bad idea either. Will I be able to pull it up, what do you say?

You will find me publishing Castle News on the first Sundays of every month from now.

I would be glad to hear if there is anything you want me to write about in Sand Castle, anything at all – about Doha or otherwise, or have any suggestion for me in general. So, scroll down a little further, and write on!

Keep blogging, and have a happy month ahead 🙂

C ya!