Thursday, August 11, 2005

rose colored jam

Today I was taken to the underworld. The belly of the beast. A place beneath the city where few have gone.

Ok, it was just the basement of my barber shop but, in keeping with the recent drama, I thought “underworld” sounded much better!

Actually, it was quite an honor. I’ve been going to the same barber shop for over a year now. It is a Turkish shop with about eight chairs and is definitely the Turkish equivalent of the movie “Barber Shop”. If you haven’t heard the tale of my barber yet, a quick summery includes: the Turkish version of Mtv playing over in the corner. Everybody calls you “boss” because it is one of the five English words that they know. It is for men only…and mothers who are bringing in their young sons. The women’s barber is next door. It is old school, complete with straight razors. And, as a last celebration of a hair cut well done, they dip a swab on a stick into some alcohol, light it on fire, and then bounce it off your ears and the side of your face in an attempt to burn off any peach fuzz or hairs they missed. The first time they did that I had visions of them dragging my body through the streets of Tottenham, dancing, burning flags, and chanting things about George Bush…all for the eyes of my mother who would be watching on CNN. But that didn’t happen, and I digress.

So I’ve been going there for about eighteen months now, slowly building relationships with the men who work there, doing my best to learn Turkish words…for their amusement, and becoming friends with the one guy there who speaks pretty good English. He loves to talk to me about America, Islam, and Christianity. It is his belief that, “since we are worshipping the same God, there is no problem”.

So today, upon entering the shop, Ali invites me down to the basement to sit with him while he ate lunch. I had always wondered what was down there, and I was pretty happy to be invited, so I walked down the steps, and into their world. I could go into great detail here about what it all looked like, but all you really need to know is that there was a spread on the table. At least six loaves of Turkish bread, a pot of “fried” (more like scrambled) eggs, courgettes (cucumbers), tomatoes, butter, cheeses, olives, honey, several different kinds of jam, and an unidentified substance with a gravy like texture to it that nobody could remember the English word for. I didn’t try any of that. I was also offered Turkish tea.

Now if you’ve never had Turkish tea, it can best be described as strong. So strong, in fact, that it’s served in a largish shot glass, or a glass about four times the size of a communion cup (sadly, my Salvationist friends will better understand the description of a shot glass than a communion cup), and believe me, that’s all you want!

But I was also introduced to something else today. Rose Jam. Jam, that’s actually made from roses. You can even see the petals in it! I tried it and it tasted like I had stuffed a handful of rose petals into my mouth. The men who came down to join us got great pleasure from watching me try it. It was very interesting. In fact, interesting enough that I intend to go to the Turkish shop and buy a jar to keep around for guests.

It was also just a good day. With all that’s been going on lately, it’s easy to forget that God is actually fulfilling his promise of sending us here for a purpose. One of the purposes, we believe, is to give us more of a world view. An understanding that it is God’s desire to save the whole world and that, in fact, he considers all of the people of the world to be his creation, and his children. Sometimes, as an American, we get so wrapped up in phrases like “God Bless America” that, somewhere along the way, we actually begin to believe that God himself is an American. We also believe that we are here to build bridges, in this division, but also in our community. Bridges between the Muslim world and the Christian world and, who knows, maybe even bridges between the Middle-Eastern and Asian worlds, and the white European/North American worlds.

I’ve been wise enough, especially over the last few years, to remember to take mental snap shots during important moments of my life. I took one today while I was sitting at that table believing that it would, no doubt, be one of those moments I would look back on with fondness.

I took the above photo a few weeks ago and have been working on it ever since. I intend to give a print of it as a gift to the owner of this Kebab shop. Hope you all are well. Give us a write/comment.

Comments on "rose colored jam"


Blogger Gordon said ... (8:40 AM) : 

that made me chuckle....thanks for a great post!


Blogger anniebuck2 said ... (5:17 PM) : 

hmm...jam made from roses interesting. I have a question for you tim. Are all the pictures on the site ones that you've taken? What camera do you use and do you edit them yourself? Just curious.



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