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Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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Zeynep The Famous


My name is Zeynep. I live in Bursa, a green city at the far, far western end of the Silk Road. It's a cool place to live. 

Way back when, around February of this year I met a strange, funny kind man in my restaurant. My grandfather owns the joint and my mom works there helping people and collecting money. It's in a great location and sees lots of traffic. Foot traffic from a nearby shopping center, schools and small businesses.

Anyway, one cold winter day this guy shows up to eat some delicious food like spinich, pasta, green salads with fresh tomatoes and other things and he says hello to me. I'm a little shy because...well, just the beginning stuff you know being a kid meeting strangers. Most of the people here know me and say hello and pat me on the head like some wild animal or pinch my cheek like some kind of weird affectionate gesture but they never really engage me or spark my interest or curiosity.

So, as I well remember that first day, he said hello in some strange language, which, as I was to learn, was English. He was friendly and smiled at me. He pointed to an empty chair across form him and said, "Here, you can sit down with me." I didn't know English but I understood him. If you get my meaning.

Then he reached into his green bag and pulled out a black Moleskine notebook and four colored pens; red, green, black and blue. I was curious and wandered closer to have a look-see. My grandfather, who was dishing up food for starving tribal people, and getting hotter than a kitchen on fire saw this and started yelling at me, "Don't bother the man!" and so I backed away. Somehow the man understood what my grandfather said and told him, "Don't worry, it's ok, she'd not bothering me. It's fine," and then he started drawing in his book.

Well, I took the risk, sat down and studied his colors, lines, forms, dashes, slashes and playful art. He pushed the pens toward me and said, "Here, you can make something," so I picked up a pen and copied a line, then just kept going. We did some art together and this was a brand new experience for me. It's been like that ever since and we became best friends. 

Later he taught me the alphabet, songs, numbers and all kinds of cool stuff. My English got really good. Hey, I'm only five! Whenever he came to eat we would sit together, talk, draw, sing and play. It was wonderful and we were happy together. The other adults thought we were either crazy or just plain silly. We didn't care because together we were free to create our own special relationship.

Then, one day this summer he came in and said to me, "You know Zeynep, I am a traveling teacher and my work and play here in Bursa is finished. It is time for me to leave and return east. I will be with many children in the future, like you, helping them play, learn and have fun. Sharing beauty, truth and art. I just wanted to tell you that you are my best friend in Turkey and I will always remember you with love in my heart."

I understood this and yet I was a little confused because I never expected him to leave. I felt sad and cried. He also cried. Then we shared a long hug and waved. "See you later! Take care of yourself!"

I could write some more about my feelings and how special our relationship was, is and will be, speaking of memory, however this is enough and I am happy to share it with you.

I am the star of my little show and here's my picture to prove it. My friend took it and I hope you like it. You can see a photo of me and my grandfather in an image gallery called July's Memory #4. 



Linguistic gardener


The linguistic gardener visits the terrace inside bird song sparrow laughter. 

Seagulls, chemists, biologists, software and underwear engineers, tourists dialects and the comedy of fools, gathering tribes to see what is invisible, soft, and pliable in the majestic light of morning.

Slow precise jet engines, sound frequencies through the atmosphere.

Pulse and signals. Waves and particles.



Majestic opticians


Well now, as the tropical sun sets on another day on paradise it was, "Wear a small bright star on your forehead experience."

Just to see what children, and some adults might say, out of shock, amazement and pure delight.

So, in class a girl asked, "Why are you wearing a star on your head?" Others asked the same question. Mind you it was a bit unusual.

"Well," I said, " I get up early every morning and this morning about 5 a.m. I was up and I went outside in my front yard to admire the beautiful flowers, amazing trees, say hello to Mr. Brown, the frog and see all the amazing stars in the clean black sky. One star in particular was dancing around and saw me way down below. And the star said, 'may I come down and go with you to school to meet kids and adults and have a look around Earth?'"

"Wow! Sure," I said, "that would be fantastic. Come on down and I will take care of you."

"Hmm," said the star. "Well, it sounds like I can trust you, however, I have one request. At the end of the day will you be sure and bring me back with you so, when it's dark I can return to my friends and family in the sky?"

"Yes, I will."

"Ok then," said the star. "I will spend the day with you."

The star flew down and rested on my forehead. It was a bright orange and small. Small and powerful. All day long primary and elementary students, especially my students asked about the star and I shared this story with them. 

Later in the afternoon while walking along a hallway with a young man he turned and asked," what happens to the star if you forget to go outside or fall asleep tonight?"

"Good question," I answered. " I will be sure and go outside after dark so the star can return home."

Star light, star bright...



I am invisable


The rose on the Turnkey metro. How the old woman gave it to you and then you carried it past all the sad eyed missing persons. How you gifted it to a young girl at the final stop. 

Where the orange kite 

with a long tail in the blue sky above a small city 

near dark green hills leading to mountains. 

Yes, this particular kite's long string is being held by a young girl. 

She is happy. She is free to fly her kite and appreciate it's color, feeling the pull, the tension in her small hand as the wind holds her kite. She plays it out. Letting it flow naturally. 

Where the sunflower's iridescent radial purity, this center, spiral. Where the hungry bee flexes its rear feeding inside stamen's nourishment - yellow petals, strong growing green stalk from dry parched earth

where deep roots grow beneath the surface in damp dark secret soil

this frenetic bee, orange and black pulsating life, stamen and pistol end to end beginning this moment, this 

sunflower receiving sunlight, all this light, all this

quick clear shadow

a butterfly



Sitting down


May this find you well and dancing in the light. 

As a kid said in class, "Work like you don't need the money, dance like nobody's looking and love like your hearts never been broken." 

Wow! Such insight, wisdom and life like inner light shining, beaming and laughing.

It's great to be hanging out with kids after the Turnkey saga. Where the a-dolts griped and complained about their small, yes, small world complete with big responsibilities. Yes, and now sitting down in a tropical paradise filled with orchids, lizards, amazing flora and fauna. Playing in the dirt is wonderful.

It's been three weeks of adjustment, adaptation and adjustment. The normal routine of processing new cultural realities and allowing the children to lead, direct and orchestrate their personal development. A room of thirty nine-year olds. Reminds me easily of the old Chinese paradigm shift and focus.

Istanbul flashback: As you left the small shop, the owner swiveled his silver spoon inside a clear glass. Musical notes with a singular pause echoed as you walked away. This musical reminder. This melodic memory. A sweet sound. It is mixed with 5-year old Zenep's tears when she knows, deep in her heart your time together since 3 February is over. How this truth assaults her understanding. 

"Why? Why? Why?"

The youth of play. Sweet memory. The voice of silence.