Heading East

Thank you to everyone who came to see my first show ever in Istanbul last night with a line-up that sums up this eclectic city - bass player AryaAfshar Mohajer from Iran, percussion player Miguel Moreno from Spain and violinist Okan Arikan from Turkey. I was so thrilled with the music, a perfect blend of east/west influences. I've posted some images on facebook and will have a video up on youtube shortly.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Behiye-Suren/132821470095881

I will definitely be back to do some more shows here in the summer. But next week, sadly, I leave the city for a while.

What will remain in my mind is the visual beauty of the east/west aesthetic framing the Bosphorous and the truly diverse people I have encountered here. Other cities like New York and Sydney have pockets of nationalities and sub-cultures in different neighbourhoods, but never before have I seen what Istanbul brings together. At any time of day in Taksim, you can see a woman in a burqa, fully covered from head to toe, shopping alongside a transvestite. School children, politicians, tourists, political activists, gypsies - everything and anything goes by you in the mass of faces on Istiklal Caddesi. I feel so at home!

Still it’s time to move on. I’m on a mission for music and the rediscovery of my roots. First, I’m heading further east to visit both my parents’ villages (in Adana and Tarsus) and travel to a town called Hatay, which is on border of Syria. Though I have always fiercely avoided and rebelled from my own religious heritage (for feminist reasons), in Hatay I will let go of my vigilant beliefs, stop running from myself and visit some ziyarets (prayer houses). It has always been through spirituality, music and food that I connect most closely with a culture. In my past travels, I have participated in Native American, Hindu and Buddhist rituals. Now its time for me to embrace what my ancestors believed in as I know this can only strengthen my core and deepen my music.

Afterwards I fly to Dubai to play some shows in June and July.