As part of my holistic counselling course, I was asked to prepare a detailed genogram outlining my family tree, the quality of relationships within the family and collated family information like health patterns, occupations, emotional and mental tendencies, migrations, adoptions etc. On the day we presented our genograms, one of my Australian classmates compared her genogram with mine and concluded that hers was boring, mine was so interesting. If you want to know what makes me “me”, you need to hear the backstory. Here we go…
I was born and raised in Turkey. My mother’s side of the family is Circassian. My grandmother spoke the language and played the traditional Circassian accordion. As for me, I only know one word in Circassian which means frog. So far, it hasn’t come in handy. I wonder if it’s because the word ends with gaga.
Since I was born and raised in Turkey, you’ve guessed it right, English is my second language. What you don’t know is it’s self-taught –although I learnt English at school and first studied with my father. I made that decision of learning English when I was 11 and am still learning. Well, learning a foreign language is an ongoing process especially if you have 200 different names in that language for one male body part.
Award winning poet and translator A. Kadir is a relative of mine. He was the one who translated Iliad and Odyssey from Greek into Turkish in collaboration with Azra Erhat and also modernised –language wise –Rumi’s work which was then published as an anthology. I remember meeting him once in his Istanbul apartment, probably a few years before he passed away.
My parents were teachers. They were punished by Turkish government for partaking a nationwide one-day teachers strike to protest against Kahramanmaraş massacre in 1978. More than a hundred civilians were killed simply because they were Alevis and supporting a left-wing party. The government at the time suspended them both for 6 months which was later extended for another 3 months. Some teachers who participated the very same protest later on declared their regret officially and got their jobs back. My parents were not one of those people.
I lived through two military coups in Turkey. I was only 1 year old during the first one and of course don’t remember a thing but I have vivid memories about the 1980 one. Most of my parents’ friends were taken into custody, questioned, imprisoned and tortured because of their ideals. We hid the director of local Teachers’ Association of Turkey at our place for months. He was on the blacklist at the time. Poor guy didn’t see his family for quite some time.
Book burnings are real, Peoples! My father owned many books which were banned by the government. I remember the day we gathered around our old wood burning stove for the purpose of destroying the evil books. I had to help as there were quite a few of them. That was the first and the last time I saw my father cry.
I used to be a jazz singer. I worked with professional musicians from the age of 16 without being a professional myself. I had a chance to work with incredible musicians like our bass player who was part of the very first rock band in Turkey. Everyone else within the band was married and a lot older than me (our saxophone player for example, was 59 at the time) I sang in seven different languages including Portuguese and I am very good with accents; you can’t tell the difference.
In a previous life, I even owned a restaurant back in Turkey for ten years and we did English food. The restaurant was the perfect platform for me to practise my English although my health suffered greatly because of eating English food all the time. Fixing my health introduced me to Ayurveda which I studied after I moved to Australia.
I read in two languages, naturally. I sometimes start reading a book in Turkish and carry on reading it in English, unnaturally. I did that with Mill on the Floss by George Eliot and Aleph by Paulo Coelho.
I have qualifications in hotel management, clinical nutrition, advanced Ayurveda, food and environmental allergies, natural therapies.
I’m actually a published food writer. My articles on food and nutrition have been published in a magazine back in Turkey. I also have a food blog called VegFusion.
I currently live in Sydney, Australia with my husband and our delinquent Australian Silky Terrier, Olly –whom I believe, deserves to be a character in a book.
If you’d like to introduce yourself, write me!
Email: a.gulden[at]outlook[dot]com ( Just replace the [at] with an @ and the [dot] with a .)