Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Exhibition

Frida Kahlo Diego Rivera

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to see Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition at Art Gallery of New South Wales (the exhibition catalogue above). I have always been fascinated by Frida Kahlo’s work as well as her relationship to Diego Rivera. This was a rare chance to see masterpieces from them both.

The exhibition presents 33 artworks from the renowned collection of Jacques and Natasha Gelman, including Natasha Gelman’s portraits done by Diego Rivera. Alongside Kahlo’s self-portrait paintings, drawings and major examples of Diego Rivera’s canvas paintings are over 50 photographs, some videos and their letters. Here I have some of my favourite photos from the exhibition but you can view the other ones on my photo blog.

The only artist in the history of art who tore open her chest and heart to reveal the biological truth of her feelings.
Diego

Frida Kahlo Diego Rivera

Diego on my mind (Self-portrait as Tehuana) 1943

Diego was everything; my child, my lover, my universe.
Frida

Frida Kahlo Diego RiveraSelf-portrait with braid 1941 (above)
Frida Kahlo painted Self-portrait with braid shortly after she married Diego Rivera in 1940. She portrays herself covered only by a grapevine, a symbol associated with the Roman god Bacchus and often used by the artist to symbolise everlasting love. The Fantastic braid references a hairstyle worn by young women from the Chinantla region of Oaxaca. Kahlo’s exaggerated version is fashioned into the shape of a lemniscate, the symbol for infinity.

To be an artist, one must… never shirk from the truth as he understands it, never withdraw from life.
Diego Rivera

Frida Kahlo Diego Rivera

Self-portrait with monkeys 1943 oil on canvas (above)
In 1943 Frida Kahlo was appointed professor at the National School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking. For Kahlo, who had not received any formal art education, this was an exceptionally high honour. In Self-portrait with monkeys the viewer is caught in a stare that is at once proud and all too aware of the irony of her appointment. Her white blouse, a traditional outfit worn by Yalalag women of her mother’s native Oaxaca province, is fastened with tassle of a doctoral cap. This painting is also arguably the earliest manifestation of ‘Fridamania’, with the four adoring monkeys representing a group of students who so admired their teacher that they became known as ‘Los Fridos’.

They thought I was a surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.
Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo Diego RiveraCalla lily vendor by Diego Rivera 1943 (above)

I guess I’m not done yet with the exhibition. Thinking of going back during the week perhaps but definitely after I’ve read the catalogue.

Frida Kahlo Diego Rivera

Author Sightings: Rayya Elias at UWRF

October 4 2014 at The Salon in Ubud, Bali

The first time I met Rayya Elias was the time she came to Sydney with her best friend: Elizabeth Gilbert. She was part of Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things talk.

As I talked about it in one of my previous posts; I didn’t know that she was going to be there. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about her, let alone her memoir: Harley Loco. I made this little gift for Elizabeth Gilbert, at the time. It was a little hand-made pouch with beads from Turkey, hiding a personal note in it. If I had known that Rayya Elias was going to be there, I would have made one for her, too! Because I hate favouritism, I felt awful for having made something for one and not for the other.

Well, I recovered the situation in style when I went to see Rayya Elias seven months after the first encounter. It was a literary event organised by Ubud Writers’ and Readers Festival. Here’s how the event was advertised:

 

Enter the festival’s den of iniquity where stories of rock stars, drug addicts and inept gangsters will be served along with a healthy dose of Mozaic’s addictive martinis and canapes. Liam Pieper, Kate Holden, Rayya Elias, Carlos Andres Gomez and Skid More will spill the adults-only, behind-closed-doors stories that we all want to hear.

 

Rayya Elias

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival catalogue

So, I made up my mind: this time, I was going to attend the event for Rayya Elias and be fully prepared, too. First of all, I bought my ticket to Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. Second, I made the exact same gift for her–with her own personal note in it. Third, I bought the Kindle version of Harley Loco and read it. And lastly, just before I travelled to Bali, I purchased an American First edition of Harley Loco for Rayya Elias to sign.

I guess, it is safe to say that I really was prepared, isn’t it?

The program started with Skid More’s introduction but it was a very short one because she was to attend another event. So, she didn’t have much time. After this quick introduction, each one of the authors took the stage and told us adult-only stories while Mozaic’s sporadic yet delicious cocktails and canapes were being served.

Here, Rayya Elias is playing one of her songs for us.

After the talks, stories, poetry and in Rayya’s case; playing the guitar and singing, I approached her and introduced myself. To my surprise, she remembered me from Sydney! I presented the little gift which I made for her. We chatted for a while and I asked her she would be kind enough to sign my book. She took one look at it and exclaimed: “American first edition!” I told her that I was a collector. After signing my book, she gave me one big, warm hug.

Rayya Elias

Here’s my personal copy of Harley Loco signed by Rayya Elias. I had to reorganise the whole shelf after I came home. This one is placed right next to Elizabeth Gilbert’s signed books I own. I just didn’t want to separate best friends.

Who was who at The Salon
Rayya Elias – USA
Rayya Elias’ debut is Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post Punk from the Middle East to Lower East Side. It charts growing up in Syria, trying to find herself in Detroit, and getting lost in New York’s underground music and drug scene of the 1980s.

Liam Pieper – Australia
According to Liam’s grandmother, he is “My grandson who writes for the internet.” His 2014 memoir, The Feelgood Hit of the Year, follows his journey from starry-eyed flower child to inept gangster. He is co-recipient of the 2014 M Literary Residency.

Kate Holden – Australia
Kate Holden is the author of the memoirs In My Skin and The Romantic. She publishes short stories, teaches writing and contributes literary criticism and features for the major papers and journals.

Carlos Andres Gomez – USA
Carlos Andres Gomez is an award-winning writer and performer from New York who starred in HBO’s Def Poetry and Spike Lee’s Inside Man. He is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir: Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood.

Skid More – Canada
Skid More worked as an art critic, columnist and alternative press editor before devoting herself to writing and performance. She has performed widely in Canada and beyond and recent works include the newly founded Bali Gong Show.

La Biblioteca del Convento de San Francisco

I had the opportunity to visit La Biblioteca del Convento de San Francisco –Spanish for library of Saint Francis Monastery—in Lima, Peru in 2007. It was my very first ancient library experience with actual books in it. I say that because when it comes to ancient libraries, I lived only 25 minutes away from Celcus Library in Ephesus, Turkey and visited the whole city several times. Library of Celcus is one ancient library –even older than the one in Lima—but it doesn’t have any books.

library

The Roman Library of Celcus in Ephesus, Turkey (above)

La Biblioteca del Convent de San Francisco is only one block away from the Plaza de Armas (photo below) which is located in the old part of Lima. The whole area was added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1991. Although we stayed in Miraflores –the touristic part of town—we were taken there by our guide. That’s when I discovered this beautiful library and the moment I saw the books, my face lit up (so I’m told) and perhaps for a moment I forgot to breathe.

library

Museo San Francisco (below). Aside from the library it also contains a church, monastery and catacombs.

library

The Collection of La Biblioteca del Convento de San Francisco

The collection of La Biblioteca del Convento de San Francisco is world-renowned with its 25,000 antique texts in different languages like Latin, Spanish, French, Portugese, Italian and some in ancient languages, on the subjects of philosophy, theology, history, literature, music, geography, canon law, ecclesiastical law, bibles, etc.

libraryOne of the most notable works here for me is some volumes of the first dictionary published by the Academy of the Spanish language. Not that I have actually seen it. I mean, you’re not even allowed to take photos once you’re inside or pass the cordoned area where the books are.

library

For more information and photos about Peru or other places I have been to, visit our photo blog.

My Favourite Authors: Nazım Hikmet Ran

Nazım HikmetNazım Hikmet Ran –commonly known as Nazım Hikmet—was a Turkish poet, playwright, and novelist. He was recognized and revered throughout the world as one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century.

In his homeland however he was treated differently by more than one government because of his social criticism and commitment to communism. Basically, Nazim Hikmet was branded as a traitor and imprisoned for over a decade. A. Kadir, another Turkish poet who is a distant relative of mine was arrested together with Nazim Hikmet and served time in prison in 1934. My relative has a book based on his reflection of the time which is still in print. In the end, Nazim Hikmet had no choice but to leave the country. He took a small boat and went to Moscow via Romania. In his home country he left behind, his books were banned and eventually, in July 25 1951, his Turkish citizenship was cancelled. Forty-six years after his demise, he regained his citizenship. No wonder why he called poetry “the bloodiest of the arts.”

I don’t remember ever having Nazim Hikmet books on the shelves of our home library and I have a feeling that my father might have burnt them because they were considered as subversive material at the time. It was simply too dangerous to own such books. Because of that, I have never been able to keep track of which one of his books I read. Here’s the silver lining though… There was this unspoken arrangement between my parents and their communist/teacher friends. Every time we visited those “comrades,” my parents were taken into the living room, I to their home library. I was overly fond of those stolen moments spent on borrowed books. Who knows how many personal libraries I had been through…

Nazım Hikmet

Nazım Hikmet’s Work

In his poetry, the main themes of hope, his women (mainly Vera), his love and longing for his country, hope for social justice and struggles of common man frequently occur.

Many of Nazim’s work have been translated into more than fifty languages. I have put together a list of English translations. They can be purchased through Amazon or eBay.

  • Human Landscapes from My Country: An Epic Novel in Verse (2009)
  • Things I Didn’t Know I Loved: Selected Poems
  • The Day Before Tomorrow
  • The Moscow Symphony
  • Selected Poems
  • The Epic of Shayk Bedreddin

Last time I was in Turkey, his complete works, all in one volume was out. It is a leather-bound, Bible looking book –only slightly thicker—and I am so kicking myself for not buying it. Because of the recent increase in shipping charges to Australia, it is incredibly expensive to buy books from Turkey these days. Well, next time I guess.

International Peace Prize

In 1950, Nazim Hikmet received International Peace Prize and was immortalised with Neruda’s lines in his acceptance speech: “Thanks for what you were and for the fire / which your song left forever burning.” Same year, Pablo Neruda, Wanda Jacubowska, Pablo Picasso and Paul Robeson received the same prize.

Nazım Hikmet

On June 3 in 1963, Nazim Hikmet died of a heart attack in Moscow. Fifty-three years ago, today, to be precise. It is true that he had said he wished to be buried in Turkey. I recently read an article about Nazim Hikmet’s adopted son Cengiz Ferecov who stated that Nazim’s greatest wish was to be able to go back to Turkey. He had said: “If that doesn’t happen, being buried there is enough for me.” Hikmet also mentioned the very same wish in his poem called Vasiyet (Testament) which I translated for you (above). Despite his wish, he is buried in Novodevichy Cemetery today. If any consolation, he is buried in the most famous cemetery in Moscow and sharing the same graveyard with Anton Chekhov, Nikolai Gogol and Mikhail Bulgakov.

I mean you must take living so seriously
that even at seventy, for example, you will plant olives –
and not so they’ll be left for your children either,
but because even though you fear death you don’t believe it,
because living, I mean, weighs heavier.
(from On Living, 1948)

Kız Çocuğu by Nazim Hikmet

Kız Çocuğu (translated as I Come and Stand at Every Door or The Little Girl) is a one of Nazim Hikmet’s poems. The literal translation of it is The Girl Child. The poem is about a seven-year-old girl who was killed during the bombing of Hiroshima. My primary school teacher was communist so she taught us the song  Kız Çocuğu composed by Zülfü Livaneli as part of his 1978 Nazım Türküsü album using Nazim’s poems. This particular version was sung by many international singers around the world including Joan Baez.

Later on, Fazıl Say, a Turkish pianist and composer wrote Nazım Oratorio (link below).

As you can read the English translations in the video above, the little girl who died in Hiroshima conveys a plea for peace by knocking on every door and asking people to sign a petition so that the children in the future wouldn’t be killed by bombs.

There is no doubt that Nazim Hikmet is the most-loved poet in Turkey. How do I know? Because, people celebrate Nazim’s birthday with carnations at the very spot where he took the boat to escape after receiving death threats. Because, people write his name on their walls with lights. The photo below was taken last year in Istanbul. The name of the place is Franz Kafka Bistro and Bar.

Nazım Hikmet

Additional Information About Nazim Hikmet

There is a movie about Nazim Hikmet’s life called Mavi Gözlü Dev (Blue Eyed Giant) and you can find IMBD information about the movie here.

Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival
For those poets out there, this annual festival is for you. Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival is organised by the American Turkish Association of North Carolina, supported by a major grant from the Turkish Cultural Foundation and hosted by Town of Cary.

Nazim Hikmet’s biography on Wikipedia
Nazim Hikmets biography on poets.org.

Visiting Franz Kafka Museum in Prague

In early June last year, I had the opportunity to visit Prague and Franz Kafka Museum. Visiting Prague was something I have been wanting to do for a very long time. And I absolutely loved it! We rented an apartment in a building which dates back to 13th century, located in the heart of Old Town Square and only 100 metres away from Astronomical Clock.

Franz Kafka Museum PraguePrague is full of history, art and Franz Kafka. Our apartment was right opposite House at the Minute (see photo above), a historic home from the 1400s where Kafka and his family lived from 1889 to 1896. Kafka’s three younger sisters Gabriele (Elli), Valerie (Valli) and Ottilie (Ottla) were born there.  From this house, as a child, he walked to the elementary school, accompanied by their family cook. House at the Minute is an interesting looking building with its façade displaying many Italian renaissance-style sgraffito frescoes. Today, there is an Italian restaurant on the ground floor called Ristorante Italiano A Minuto where we had one of the best Italian dinners alongside to a stunning red wine.

Franz Kafka Museum PragueOn the opposite corner of the Old Town Square, there is Kafka Café (see photo above) under a large building located on the corner of Kaprova Street and Maiselova Street. This is where Franz Kafka was born. He and his family lived there until 1885.

Franz Kafka Museum Prague

Visiting Franz Kafka Museum in Prague

I saw the sign of Franz Kafka Museum from St Charles Bridge and immediately wanted to go and visit. It’s located on the other side of Vltava River, an area called Malá Strana (Lesser Town). When we got there, a weird looking old woman with a slipping make-up greeted us. It looked like her face was trying to catch up with the make-up and failing miserably. Even though, we told her that we were from Australia, she carried on talking to us in Czech. Still, we miraculously understood that we had to go back to the gift shop to buy our tickets for the museum.

It was dark inside. I didn’t know what to expect from the museum but when I stood in front of the first page of Kafka’s letter to his father, the one starting with “Dearest Father, You asked me recently why I maintain that I am afraid of you.” I felt an immediate connection with this remarkable author although I hadn’t read any of his books before I visited Franz Kafka Museum.

The exhibition consists of two sections: Existential Space and Imaginary Topography. Existential Space is all about how Prague shaped Kafka. His diaries, letters to family members, lovers, friends and editors are all part of this section. Imaginary Topography, on the other hand, is all about how Kafka recreated this imaginary Prague in his books.

Franz Kafka Museum Prague

On November 1, 1907, Franz Kafka was hired at the Assicurazioni Generali –an Italian insurance company where he worked for nearly a year. His correspondence, during that period, witnesses that he was unhappy with his working time schedule which made it extremely difficult for him to concentrate on his writing but at the same time he felt more like a sketch artist than a writer. In a letter to Felice Bauer he wrote: “I was, in another time, a great sketch artist, but I learned to draw in a scholastic system, under the direction of a mediocre woman painter, causing the loss of all of my talent.” Today, some fifty small sketches and illustrations remain and some of them are on display at the museum.

As a tribute by Franz Kafka Museum, Kafka’s drawings were used to produce and animation called The K Animation. It represents the daily descent of Kafka’s soul into the abyss of the blank page. You can watch a part of it here.

Museum shops are my thing and I so wanted to buy one of Kafka’s books from the gift shop but they didn’t have anything in English. So I had to wait until I came home.

Pissing fountain just outside Franz Kafka Museum. Enjoy!

Author Sightings: Elizabeth Gilbert and Rayya Elias

author sightings elizabeth gilbert rayya elias

Author Sightings: Elizabeth Gilbert and Rayya Elias

March 7, 2014

As part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival, Elizabeth Gilbert gave a 90-minute talk at City Recital Hall Angel Place about the journey she took to create her book: The Signature of All Things and creativity in general. She was introduced by her best friend: Rayya Elias and we all found out that they “everly” love each other.

I spent whole morning listening Eat, Pray, Love on Audible while making a little pouch with a personal note in it (see photo above) as a gift for Elizabeth Gilbert. I was still in the process of reading The Signature of All at the time but an American first edition of Eat, Pray, Love was organised months before for her to sign after the event.

Before the event, I looked around to observe what kind of people would want to come and hear Elizabeth Gilbert talk. I should say what kind of women because the audience was mainly woman, except for my husband and a few other men –we’re proud of you guys. Although my husband is not familiar with Gilbert’s work, he thoroughly enjoyed the whole event. She was incredibly engaging, approachable, charming, articulate and very funny.

I find Elizabeth Gilbert quite inspiring. Not because she is a brilliant author or memoirist but also an icon of humility. You can be famous, successful and that approachable at the same time? I love people who show me what’s possible.

During the talk, she touched on the subject of perfectionism. This is especially important for women because, us women, let perfectionism hold us back –before we even embark on any creative project. I personally spent quite a bit of time there, waiting for the perfect moment or learning the perfect skill to start writing. Clearly, not knowing something well or having done something before never hold men back in stepping forward.

“Work doesn’t have to be easy, it just has to be interesting.” –Elizabeth Gilbert

Towards the end of the talk, Gilbert’s best friend, Rayya Elias, played some of her songs for us which was unexpected because I was not familiar with her work at all. So, I didn’t know anything about her music, her friendship to Elizabeth Gilbert or her memoir Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, hair and Post-Punk, from the Middle East to the Lower East Side. Don’t worry; I’ll fix all of that and more when the right times. All I want to say for now is “awesome talk and thank you!”

Book Review: Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland

book review outlining novel K. M. WeilandBook Review: Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K. M. Weiland entered my life at the right time and in the right way. The right time part is all about learning to write in an orderly fashion before I make a mess. It happens, you know, especially if you are new in this writing business. And I am new! The right way part? This is really cool: I won the book! Along with Katie’s Structuring Your Novel book. Give-aways usually don’t cover Australia but I was lucky this time. My booksarrived, smelling like strawberries and they were both signed. Jealous?

Book Review Outlining Novel K. M. Weiland

I was convinced that I would be an outliner even before I read Outlining Your Novel. It suits my personality; I am Virgo and I thrive in orderly environments. However, if I needed any further convincing or just plain reassurance, Outlining Your Novel did that, too.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success covers:

• Benefits and misconceptions about outlining
• Choosing the right type of outline for you
• Different outlining tools
• Brainstorming ideas
• Creating and developing characters
• Organising your scenes
• Discover backstory of your characters
• Key story factors like motive, desire, goal, conflict and theme
• Character interviews
• Discovering the setting
• How to format your finished outline
• How to put your outline to use

Outlining Your Novel also includes exclusive interviews with authors like: Becky Levine, Larry Brooks, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Roz Morris, John Robinson, Jody Hedlund, Aggie Villanueva, Lisa Grace, Carolyn Kaufman and Dan L. Hays and you can the interviews at the end of each chapter. The authors answer these important questions:
• Can you describe your outlining process?
• What is the greatest benefit of outlining?
• What is the biggest potential pitfall of outlining?
• Do you recommend “pantsing” for certain situations and outlining for others?
• What’s the most important contributing factor to a successful outline?

Please note that Outlining Your Novel has a workbook (see photo below) which can be bought separately. Book Review Outlining Novel K. M. Weiland

About the Author

K. M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic, the western A Man Called Outlaw, the medieval epic Behold the Dawn, the portal fantasy Dreamlander, and the historical/dieselpunk adventure Storming. When she’s not making things up, she’s busy mentoring other authors on her award-winning blog HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors.com. She makes her home in western Nebraska.

Tribute to My Soul Brother Mithat Danışan (aka Panço)

Tribute my soul brother Mithat Danışan (aka Panço)

Tribute to Mithat Danışan (aka Panço)

Four months into a brand new year and we already lost David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Maurice White, Keith Emerson, Prince and many others. These musicians touched millions of people around the world with their art. I mean, me and my husband are still mourning for the death of Toto’s drummer Jeff Porcaro who passed away in 1992, followed by his brother Mike Porcaro who passed away months before we went and saw Toto in Europe, June 2015. We only know of them because of their music: we’re not related, we didn’t even know them personally but can you imagine what it would be like for their family members and personal friends or even colleagues?

Well, I have become one of those people recently. My soul brother, our bass player, Mithat Danışan (aka Panço) passed away a day after his 67th birthday from a heart attack. He was one of the best musicians the country ever produced, being a part of the very first rock band in Turkey and pretty much every other band that came after it.

I have so many wonderful memories of this great man and I will cherish each one of them forever. It’s hard to choose favourite memories of my time with Panço, there are so many but one that comes to mind was the time of our rehearsals at his place. Nejat, his oldest son was about 5 years old at the time and Yiğit –the youngest –was just a baby. Nejat used to come up to us every time we took a break and tell us that when he grew up he would be playing Omer. Omer was the name of our keyboard player, so he meant “When I grow up, I will play the keyboard.” The next day he would say “When I grow up, I will play Suavi.” By that, he meant the drums. Panço’s wife Ülkü Abla used to make us sucuk-ekmek in the oven (sucuk is a very spicy sausage, very much like chorizo) and a big pot of Turkish tea. I recently realised that I really miss those sucuk-ekmeks but the funny thing is I don’t even eat meat! At the end of each day after the rehearsal, Panço used to give me a lift back home on his motorbike. Being winter, I used to get cold with the wind rushing in through the sleeves of my jacket. As a solution to this problem, he suggested I would reach out from both sides and put my hands in his pockets. But he was a big guy; my hands wouldn’t be able to reach his pockets. We still had a good laugh out of it though.

Tribute soul brother Mithat Danışan (aka Panço)

I tracked him down about a year ago on Facebook through a common friend. I thought he’d be the last person to use Facebook but there he was. He was so chuffed about our finding each other after 27 years. He told me he missed me so much. He was happy to hear that I now live in Australia –a country he, himself had visited as part of his band’s world tour many years ago. He sent me You Tube videos of his youngest son playing base in a private message and he asked me to pay him a visit next time I’m in Kuşadası. Seeing him again after all those years would have been the highlight of my next trip.

I am proud to have known such a fine gentleman with such generosity and a giant heart. He was a dear friend, great musician and my big brother. Turkey has lost a truly great musician who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of Turkish rock music. RIP Panço. You will surely be missed.

Gulden

Desk Plants for Writers

desk plants writers

Desk Plants for Writers

I have a confession to make… I don’t have a green thumb. Yes, my father was an agriculture teacher and he left a huge forest behind but I have the tendency of killing plants, not growing them. Even the unkillable ones! The trust is, I have a long plant killing criminal record. I mean I killed our yellow orchid; Nikki. Yes, she is my latest kill.

desk plants writers

RIP Nikki

I keep hearing benefits of having indoor plants especially in writing rooms. And what I’m hearing recently keeps getting louder and louder. Even the list of ideal office plants is getting longer. I have no choice but to convince myself to get one of those green things.

So, why do we really need those indoor plants?

Apparently, we need plants to improve indoor air quality, reduce stress, uplift our mood and promote productivity.

Plants improve air quality
Plants improve indoor air quality by removing harmful air pollutants present in the home. It’s not just because us humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide but also we are surrounded by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from plastic or synthetic materials. They are in our furniture, paint on the wall, fittings, computers, etc. they even say that indoor air is always more polluted than outdoors! So we need indoor plants.

Plants reduce stress and uplift our mood
I don’t know how they do it but indoor plants relieve staff stress and reduce negative mood states by up to 60%. And you don’t have to have a jungle to achieve that.

Plants promote productivity
Indoor plants promote productivity and performance. They have done some studies around that I believe those people who did those studies. Period!

Now that I’m convinced, I have to consider my plant options.

The List
Did you know that there is a list of NASA approved indoor plants? Oh yes, there is. Following plants are in total compliance with the rules here:
• Areca Palm
• Lady Palm
• Bamboo Palm
• Rubber Plant
• Dracaena Janet Craig
• English Ivy
• Dwarf Date Palm
• Ficus Alii
• Boston Fern
• Peace Lily

For me, none of these would fit to some tiny little area I have on my desk and I don’t like having large objects on the floor as I move things around –I still haven’t figured out the best position for my desk but still searching. Succulents are small but some of them have spiky bits and I could be quite clumsy sometimes.

What to do?

All of a sudden, I remembered my money tree downstairs, right next to the gate. I was given a tiny little stalk of it with only four fleshy leaves by Irene –my lovely Asian neighbour who lives a few doors down. She gave it to me and said “Now, you go home and grow some money, my dear.” How cute is that?

And I did grow some money! I named it Lakshmi and grew another one in another large pot downstairs –named that one Lakshimette. Then I had Lakshimette 2! Maybe my black thumb karma is improving?

Binominal name of money tree is crassula ovata but let’s not get technical here. Money tree is also known as jade plant, friendship tree and lucky plant. It is low maintenance, no spiky bits and I just love its luscious green roundness. It hasn’t got a name yet but I believe it’ll come to me. In the meantime, any suggestions?

desk plants writers

My Favourite Authors: Samad Behrangi

Samad Behrangi has always been one of my favourite authors since I was a little girl –we spell his name as Samed Behrengi in Turkish, by the way. You may have spotted one of his books in my previous post; My Favourite Books Growing Up. If you haven’t, you can read the post here.

We have a saying in Turkey that children who’d been brought up with Samad Behrangi’s books turn out fine no matter what life throws at them. It is no surprise since Behrangi’s books portray the lives of children from poor villages of Iran who remain good in the face of poverty and hardship. Well, I have been brought up with Samad Behrangi’s books and I guess, it is safe to say that I too turned out right despite all that injustice I had to face through a large portion of my life.

favourite authors samad behrangi

Behrangi’s Life
Behrangi was born into a lower-class Azerbaijani family in Tabriz, Iran in June 24, 1939. He graduated from a teacher training school in 1957 and he obtained his degree in English from Tabriz University while teaching Persian in rural Azerbaijani schools.

He was mostly famous for his children’s books, especially The Little Black Fish but he was also a teacher, translator, social critic, poet and folklorist. He wrote many pedagogical essays, translated Persian poems into Azerbaijani and collected and published several samples of oral Azerbaijani literature.

Behrangi’s Children’s Books
Here’s a list of some of Behrangi’s children’s books. Why some? Because I don’t know the English titles for many and finding all the book titles is a bit of a drama because at the end of the day, these are not Harry Potter books, are they?

The Little Black Fish (this is my favourite Behrangi book, ever!)
The Tale of Love (the very first, full-size, non-curriculum book I have ever read)
Oldooz and the Talking Doll (also one of my favourites)
Oldooz and the Crows
The Little Sugar Beet Vendor (loved that little guy and how he peeled the sugar beets)
One Peach and One Thousand Peaches
Talkhoon
24 Restless Hours

I read all of Behrangi’s books and I read them all in Turkish. At that time, as a child, I believed that there was goodness in the world. Only light, no darkness. I truly believed that until one day I turned over one of his books and found out that my favourite author was actually killed by Shah Pahlavi’s men and thrown into Aras river to make it look like he was drowned in there. It was exactly three years one day before I was born. I remember how my child brain struggled to process this. At that moment, my whole perception of life was shattered. In the photo below, you see Behrangi being carried out of Aras River.

my favourite authors samad behrangi

Then came the military coup in Turkey when I was ten and my Behrangi books were screaming communist or leftist —both were equally bad at the time. I wondered if the police or gendarme came to our flat and searched for banned material and found my books, would they take me into custody and beat the sole of my feet with sticks until they split off, then make me walk on prison floor washed with salty water like they had done to one of my parents’ teacher friend?

As a final note, I would like to leave you with one of Behrangi’s profound quotes.

My Favourite Authors: Samad Behrangi