Archive for March, 2011

You, who they call Lord

March 28, 2011
setting sun Tenerife

setting sun Tenerife

You, who I can feel deep inside my soul.
You, who has created this world.

When I look into the microcosmos, in the macrocosmos, everywhere I find you.
I sense your greatness.

You, who they call Lord,
who they call Father,
who they call Allah,
who they call Jahwe,
You, who is there.

Who is with us. Who walks with us.
The older I become, the more I can call you friend.
You are the friend of my life, who loves me and who called me to carry your message to the people.
Thank you.

I want to ask for everyone who is here today, to feel some of God’s Greatness and His love, who wants us, who loves us.
Jesus Christ showed us a way which we can walk together.
In spite of everything and everyone, we can find ways together,
seek and find ways which will gift us with a better and more beautiful life.

Paulo has written that he is searching for the sense in his life.
And while searching he went across new paths, wrong tracks and detours, like the all of us.

Let’s keep on looking for you in the humans beings that are present in our path.


— Abbot Burkhard

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

At the press conference and at the party too at Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul on St Joseph Day, Paulo Coelho explained why he held a party on St Joseph Day, and that prayers would be said to St Joseph, that it was not an obligation to join in, but that if you did, the prayers must come from your heart, from your soul.

He invited several people on to the platform so that a prayer could be said in many languages. One of those who he invited was the Abbot of Melk Abbey who said this prayer in German.

Paulo invited everyone to hold hands during the prayers. It was a very moving experience.

I look forward to Abbot Burkhard’s recent book being translated into English.

Top story in Religion Today (Tuesday 29 March 2011).

Spiritual experience of a sunset
Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party at Pera Palace Hotel
Abbot Burkhard’s book is # 1!!!
No mosteiro de Melk
Footprints in the Sand
Sand and Foam

Pera Palace Hotel

March 27, 2011
View from the balcony - Elaine Street

View from the balcony - Elaine Street

The sun that suddenly rises behind the hills of Pera, over the minarets of the city and the Golden Horn, fills your heart with a crimson joy. Everything that was asleep all night long is waking up now … — Knut Hamsun

Pera Palace Hotel was built in 1892 to serve passengers on the Orient Express. It sits on top of a hill in modern Istanbul with extensive views of the river, Bosphorus and the old part of Istanbul. Passengers on the Orient Express were conveyed from the station, across the river and up the hill in a sedan chair. An example of one such sedan chair may be found in the foyer.

In 1895 Pera Palace was opened with a Grand Ball.

Pera Palace soon established itself as the place to see and be seen.

It was at the Pera Palace Hotel that Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express (1934).

Other famous guests include Ernest Hemingway, Greta Garbo, Alfred Hitchcock, Mata Hari, Yehudi Menuhin, Jacqueline Kennedy, Rita Hayworth, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, King George V of England, King Edward VIII, Queen Elizabeth II, President Tito of Yugoslavia, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary and Czar Nicholas II of Russia.

Room 101, a favourite of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk during his many visits, is now a Atatürk museum.

The most recent famous visitor Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. He hosted a St Joseph’s Day Party (Saturday 19 March 2011) and earlier in the day a press conference.

Pera Palace Hotel has been recently renovated to restore it to its former glory. It was closed in 2006 and reopened 1 September 2010. The re-opening coincided with the year that Istanbul had been designated as the European Capital of Culture.

The electric lift inside the hotel was the second only installed in Europe. The first was the Eiffel Tower. British writer Daniel Farson described the elevator:

It is the most beautiful elevator in the world made of cast iron and wood… It ascends like a lady who curtsies. Tourists can not take their eyes off this utterly pretty and aristocrat elevator.

Apart from the Ottoman Palaces, Pera Palace was the first building to have electricity.

A few minutes walking distance from Pera Palace lies Istiklal Avenue, the heart of modern Istanbul. A historic tram mentioned by Orhan Pamuk in one of his novels runs through Istiklal Avenue. At the end of Istiklal Avenue, a funicular runs down to the tram station, from where a tram runs across the river to the old part of Istanbul and the railway station. Or a 10 lire taxi ride, but the funicular and tram is more fun.

Also within walking distance lies the Galata Tower.

Pera Palace is featured in 1000 Places to See Before You Die, with a copy opened at the relevant pages in a display cabinet in the hotel foyer.

Paulo Coelho meets readers in Istanbul
Paulo Coelho Press Conference at Pera Palace Hotel
Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party at Pera Palace Hotel
Pera Palace Hotel Istanbul « Historic Hotels of the World – Then & Now
Refurbished grandeur in Istanbul’s Pera Palace Hotel
Istanbul: Afternoon Tea at the Pera Palace Hotel

The Zahir

March 26, 2011

A song based on The Zahir by Paulo Coelho.

How to save people in Eastern Japan

March 26, 2011


Situation in Eastern Japan is still bad.
More than 10thousand people are found dead in the earthquake and tsunami (most of the victims were killed in tsunami).
And nearly 20thousand people are not even found yet.
Tsunami swep away the towns and villages near the coast of some of the prefectures.
Those disaster area lacks in everything still in this present point.
No electricity, no foods, no medicine, no house to sleep, no fuel to burn the stove.
So plaese donate for those people.
Money is very important for them after the disaster.
Japanese Red Cross might be the best organization to donate:

I also want the people of United Nation to have a conference as soon as possible.
Economy will decline for sure after this disaster; many of factories are closed, and due to the power plant problem, farmers can’t produce crops, even in Tokyo lacks electricity.
That means that this problem will continue for a long time.

The disaster area needs volunteer:
Please come to volunteer to Japan.
All kinds of people are needed.
Still thousands of people are staying at the shelters don’t know what to do.
Doctors, carpenters, counselor, chef, all kinds of people are needed to help them.

Sing for the victims:
Plaease sing a song for the people badly affected by earthquake and post it in YouTube.
I am sure that music will bright up the people.
Send relief goods to disaster area:
Thousands of people just lost everything, even their houses and cars.
If you want to send something directly, please send it to the prefectoral office below.
These 4 prefectures were badly affected by tsunami.
Print it out and paste one of the 4 and send it to Japan.
Don’t forget to write a message on the surface of the package (people might not notice that it was sent for donation).

宮城県県庁 JAPAN

岩手県県庁 JAPAN

青森県県庁 JAPAN

福島県県庁 JAPAN

Please write your idea what to do:

Thousands of people seems as if they lost their future.

Please write if you have any idea how to reconstruct their washed out community.

And to my friends and anyone who is reading this, please re-post, share this article on your webpage.

Love & Peace to the world

from Tokyo Japan

I was more than happy to re-post what was originally posted by Ken Crane on his blog.

As I wrote to Ken Crane, the only good to come out of this tragedy is that it has woken the world to the dangers of nuclear power. Those areas in the vicinity of the nuclear fallout are probably off-limits for at least a generation.

Top story in Japan earthquake/Terremoto en Japón for Sunday 27 march 2011.

Also see

Thoughts and prayers for Japan

Women and Islam

March 25, 2011


Proper veiling and Islamic dress code that upholds women’s chastity and modesty is a public issue. Indubitably this is an absolute legal and Sharia matter that is a religious imperative. Being un-Islamically dressed is a crime. — Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejehei, Iran’s public prosecutor

When Islam became imperial, a lot of cultural baggage infiltrated Islamic society. — Haifaa Jawad, senior lecturer in Middle Eastern studies at the University of Birmingham in England

I had an interesting conversation with three Muslim girls who I met at the New Mosque in Istanbul. I asked why they were dressed as they were, why they wore head scarves, as this was not required by the Koran.

This surpised them, they disagreed, and one whipped out her iPhone on which she had stored the Koran. You are wrong she said, I can find no mention in the Koran. To me, it seemed to make my point.

I suggested they read Reconciliation by Benazir Bhutto which dicusses the role of women in Islam, also the relationship between Islam, the West and democracy.

The West does not have a dislike of Islam because of prejudice, it is because of killing of innocent people, terrorism, the appalling treatment of women.

The Koran was way ahead of its time. Women in the Arabian Peninsular had no rights, they were worthless, little more than slaves, female babies were burried alive.

The Koran explicitly gave women rights, they were to be treated as equals, they were equal in the eye of God, they were made and man in his image. Women could keep the money they earned. The wife of the Prophet was a successful businesswoman. If they bore and fed and looked after children, it was the role of the men to compensate them for the work they did in child rearing.

O people! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these two, many men and women; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship; surely Allah ever watches over you.

We see the same in Genesis, where God created man and woman in His image. If in His image, then God must be male and female.

If men and women arise from the same being, then they must be equal!

The Koran says: And surely we have honoured the children of Adam.

If both are honoured equally, then they must be equal in the eyes of God, and in Islamic practice.

There is a requirement of women to dress modestly, an explicit requirement on dress for the family of the Prophet when they received visitors at Medina, but not a requirement on others.

O Prophet! say to your wives and daughters and the women of the believers that they lay down upon them their overgarments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

There is a reference to a veil and that is in a saying of the Prophet: the best veil is in the eyes. In other words men should treat women with respect.

The abuse and mistreatment of women in much of the Muslim world has nothing to do with the Koran.

Maulana Azad, an Asian Islamic scholar, argues that men and women are equal in the Koran: They have rights [in regard to their husbands] similar to those against them in a just manner.

In contrast there are those bigots to who women are a commodity, for example Sheikh Taj al-Dian al-Hilali in a Friday sermon in Australia in 2006 in which he compared woman with meat left out for the cat! [see Australia fury at cleric comments]

If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside… and the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat?

Al-Hilali argued that women who are not veiled and who are sexually assaulted are themselves to blame for the assault. It is the same bigots who deny woman an education, who keep them locked in the family home as domestic slaves. Who justify terrorism and killing of innocent civilians and at the same decry human rights and democracy as something alien imposed on Muslim society by the West.

The same cleric a year later mocked Jewish people as pigs!

Another Muslim cleric in Australia, Samir Abu Hamza, said it was ok for husbands to rape and beat their wives! [see Cleric ‘must deny’ views on rape]

“You beat them… but this is the last resort, after you have advised them for a long, long time, then you smack them, you beat them.
“You are not allowed to bruise them, you are not allowed to make them bleed, this is just to shape them up – ‘shape up woman’ – that’s about it.
“You don’t go and get a broomstick.”
“Even if her husband was to ask her for a sexual relationship and she is preparing him the bread on the stove, she must leave it and come and respond to her husband”.
“In this country if the husband wants to sleep with his wife and she does not want to and… there’s nothing wrong with her, she just does not want to, and he ends up sleeping with her by force, it is… known to be as a rape.
“Amazing. How can a person rape his wife?”

The Koran encouraged learning. It ushered in the Golden Age of Islam in what is now Iraq. Devout scholars, clerics, were also men of learning, doctors, poets, artists, scientists.

Islam encouraged tolerance and respect for other religions.

But the interests of men rode roughshod over the teachings of the Koran. Bigotry replaced tolerance. Ignorance replaced learning. Dogma replaced compassion.

That I was able to hold the conversation with the three girls, would not have been possible in most Islamic countries. I was though amused by their dress. They were very elegant in black, wore fine silk scarves.

Synchronicity: Whilst I was writing this I was sent two examples of the abuse and mistreatment of women. In Iran a woman subjected to 74 lashes for being ‘un-Islamically’ dressed and in Egypt women being subjected to tests of virginity and being treated as prostitutes if they failed the test.

Seeing Clearly
The Bookseller of Kabul
By the River Piedra I sat Down and Wept
The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations
The Saudi women taking small steps for change
Australia fury at cleric comments
Australia Muslim cleric suspended
Cleric ‘must deny’ views on rape
Fury at Australia cleric comments
Egyptian women protesters forced to take ‘virginity tests’
74 lashes for women who are “un-Islamically” dressed
Official Laws against Women in Iran

Alchemist Stone

March 24, 2011

At his St Joseph’s Day Party at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, Paulo Coelho sat patiently signing books and chatting with his friends into the early hours of the morning.

It must have been around 1am and those of us who were left Paulo asked us to sit around his table. He then asked Ken Crane to tell us the story of the Alchemist Stone. I did not fully follow what Ken was telling us and I asked would he post it on his blog which he kindly did a few days later.


I was asked by Paulo to attend St Joseph’s party on early November. The party was to take place at Istanbul on 2011 March. But I did not answer immediately, I wrote to Paulo let me think for a while. I was not sure if I could save a money to go to Istanbul. Of course, I did want to attend the party and meet with Paulo but I left this for a while to think.

alchemist stone

alchemist stone

On one late November, my wife Yumi went to her friend’s exhibition at Tokyo. This Yumi’s friend, is a handicraft artist making necklaces with stones. She invited us to her exhibition, but I was away to do my job so Yumi went ahead to the exhibition, I decided to go to the exhibition after I finish my job. When Yumi entered the gallery, she saw more than a hundred beautiful necklaces hanged on the walls. All of those necklaces were using what they call power stone as a motif. After having a little conversation, the artist asked Yumi which necklace she likes the best. There were several kinds of necklaces hanged on the wall, all of them were using different kinds of stones. Yumi immediately pointed the necklace using a blue stone. “That’s interesting that you’ve chosen that stone” The artist said to Yumi.

After an hour or so, after I finished a job, I arrived the gallery. Yumi asked me a same question that she was asked. “Which necklace do you like the best?”

After looking at them for a while, I pointed the same necklace out of a hundred necklaces. It was the same necklace that Yumi have chosen. “The name of the stone on this necklace is Aqua Aura” the artist started describing to us. “Aqua Aura is very good for a creative people. The stone makes the people connect to universe. And it is related to throat chakra, so this stone is also very good for the people who sings (note: Yumi is a very good singer)”

To be very honest, I was reading many spiritual books, but I did not believe in stone power, but Yumi believed in it.

Ken, Paulo & Yumi

Ken, Paulo & Yumi

The artist continued: “the stone is a natural crystal but it wasn’t originally blue when it was mined from the ground. It is turned blue by an alchemical process using gold. So this Aqua Aura is also called Alchemist Stone”

Yumi screamed when she heard this (I didn’t scream, but I was very surprised). We were talking what to do about St Joseph’s party for many days. Yumi started explaining to the artist why she screamed. After hearing Yumi’s story, the artist told us that she is also a Paulo Coelho’s fan.

So this was the the day we’ve decided to go Istanbul. I felt like I have to give this stone to Paulo.


Alchemists turn base metal into gold. Here we have gold being used to change a crystal. In The Alchemist Santiago learns how to read the signs, to communicate with the Soul of the World.

Alchemists sought to turn base metals into gold. Aqua Aura is created through an alchemical process where molecules of pure gold are bonded to the quartz by the natural electric charge of the crystal, which amplifies the conductivity of the quartz. This produces a celestial shade of blue that reflects a spectrum of opalescent metallic colors (it is not a coating, but permanently permeates the quartz). Aqua Aura creates an immensely powerful protection combination, which fuses the White, Blue and Gold Rays into an iridescent display of Light.

I stayed in the old part of Istanbul. The receptionist at my hotel was called Elif. She was a Paulo Coelho fan. I met Işil who owned a spice shop. She too was a Paulo Coelho fan. I left as gifts for both of them signed copies of Elif which had just been published in Turkey.

I noticed at the party that Paulo Coelho was wearing an Alchemist Stone!

Aqua Aura
The Alchemist Himself


March 23, 2011
Elif by Paulo Coelho

Elif by Paulo Coelho

Paulo reading Elif - Marcos Borges

Paulo reading Elif - Marcos Borges

Paulo signing Elif at St Joseph's Day Party

Paulo signing Elif at St Joseph's Day Party

In 2006 Paulo Coelho lost his way. He went on a journey, he took the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok. It was on this journey, a spiritual as well as physical journey, that he met Elif, a young Turkish woman.

Elif (O Aleph in Brazil and Portugal) is the story of this journey.

At a press conference in Istanbul on St Jospeph’s Day, Paulo Coelho said that Elif is 90% true, the changes were to fit in with the narrative, that it was very difficult to write, but that he was encouraged by his agent Monica Atunes (who just happened to be sat in front of me) to write it.

Elif is a point in time and space.

Elif was published in Turkey on 11 March 2011. It shot straight to No One.

After the press conference at Pera Palace Hotel I wandered along İstiklal Avenue where I found Elif on display in the window of a bookshop and on display inside.

At the airport Elif was on display at a newsstand. I asked how many they had sold in a week. They said 15-20, to which they added very unusual for a little kiosk.

Inside the airport Elif was on display in a bookstore at Duty Free. They had also built a tower of books of Elif. I asked the same question, to be told 60!

Aleph will not be published in English until September 2011.

At his St Joseph’s Day Party at the Pera Palace Hotel, Paulo Coelho kindly signed for me two copies of Elif. These I left behind in Istanbul as presents, one I gave to Elif the other to Işil.

Turkish coffee

March 21, 2011

One cup of coffee remains in memories for thirty years. — Turkish proverb

Coffee should be as black as hell, as strong as death and as sweet as love. — Turkish proverb

Turkish coffee is made and served as a way of showing respect and affection for one’s guests.

Turkish coffee is served throughout what was once the Ottoman Empire. In Greece it is known as Greek coffee, in Cyprus as Cypriot coffee.

Coffee was introduced to the Ottomans in 1543, it became so popular so quickly that coffeehouses were opened and small shops opened specializing in roasting coffee. Coffee roasting is called “tahmis”. There is a street called Tahmis in the old part of Istanbul near the Spice Bazaar. Its name derived from the coffee shops located on this street 460 years ago.

Turkish coffee is made by boiling finely ground coffee beans in a small copper saucepan. It is poured into a small coffee cup where the dregs form a layer of sludge at the bottom of the cup.

Sade (sah-DEH) – plain, no sugar (fairly bitter)

Az şekerli (AHZ sheh-kehr-lee) – with a little sugar (takes off the bitter edge; less than a teaspoon per cup)

Orta şekerli (ohr-TAH sheh-kehr-lee) – with medium sugar (sweetish; about a teaspoon of sugar for each cup)

Çok şekerli (CHOK sheh-kehr-lee) – with lots of sugar (quite sweet; two teaspoons of sugar or more)

Put the finely ground coffee beans (about one teaspoon per demi-tasse cup of coffee) into a cezve (JEZZ-veh), a special pot with a wide bottom, narrower neck, a spout, and a long handle. Add sugar (if required|) and a Turkish coffee cup (fıncan) of cold water for each cup of coffee you’re making. Bring slowly to the boil over a low to medium heat, to frothing three times, each time removing from the heat. When the froth reaches the cezve’s narrow neck, it’s a sign to remove the pot from the heat and let the froth recede. Watch the pot carefully else it will boil over.

After the third froth-up, pour a little of the froth into each cup. Bring the liquid still in the cezve to the froth-point once more, then pour it immediately, muddy grounds and all, into the Turkish coffee cups, which are smaller than demi-tasse cups.

Wait at least a minute for the grounds to settle before you pick up the tiny cup and sip. Enjoy the rich, thick flavor, but stop sipping when you taste the grounds coming through. Leave the “mud” in the bottom of the cup.

Serve with a glass of water.

I walked on through the Spice Market in Istanbul and there on the corner of the narrow street beyond is a coffee shop. A long queue as people patiently stand in line to buy their freshly ground coffee.

When I took my friend Jane there she bought some to take home. I also bought some for my friend Sian.

On checking out of my hotel this morning they gave me a small pack of ground coffee from this shop.

Baba Zula

March 21, 2011
Baba Zula

Baba Zula

Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho

Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho

Baba Zula, Turkish rock meets sufi! A fusion of rock, sufi, reggae.

Baba Zula performed at Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party in Istanbul. The highlight of the night was when they were joined on stage by Paulo Coelho and Rudolf Schenker the legendary lead singer and guitarist from the German rock group the Scorpions performing their classic Still loving you.


March 21, 2011


Hotellino is located in the old part of Istanbul. For old read rough. Everything you would wish to see is within easy walking distance – Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Spice Market, Central Market, tramway, the river …

Hotellino is a lovely little hotel, friendly staff. Breakfast consists of simple Middle Eastern fare. Rooms are spacious and clean, but no view other than of a yard. Free water in room. Free internet. Free wi-fi. Fee safe. Free fridge.

Turkish delight for breakfast! And halva too! Delicious walnuts and dried apricots. These I added to my muesli. Large pots of jam, a spoonful went well on toast. There was fresh fruit salad but I missed fresh fruit.

You are spoilt for choice for places to eat for the rest of the day. Try hot chestnuts off the street vendors and fresh grilled mackerel down by the river. An absolute must is fresh crushed pomegranate juice.

The rooms are spacious They lack a decent view, but so what, you have got legs. Plenty of cupboards and drawers. A long glass-topped table with a bench seat which could also serve as a writing desk. Paper and envelopes provided. A notepad and pencil by the bedside.

A very good bathroom. Lovely coconut oil shampoo. The soap had a lovely spicy smell, not the usual sweet scent. But what it was I could not say, and try as I did, I could not find any soap like it.

An electric hairdryer in the bathroom not a good idea.

The bathroom also had a phone!

I was baffled by a window from the bedroom into the bathroom, looking into the shower! Maybe some like to put on show!

Dotted around the lounge were some excellent books on Istanbul.

Passers through leave their books behind for others to share. I suggested Hotellino register as a BookCrossing zone.

Very quiet.

A level of environmental awareness at Hotellino. The paper used was unbleached, lights turned off when you left the room. But polystyrene cups in the rooms! Not pleasant to drink from and very bad for the environment.

I was at a St Joseph’s Day Party at Pera Place Hotel and I was given a list of hotels nearby but pleased I did not make the mistake of staying there. A ten Turkish lire taxi ride away from the old part of Istabul and some taxis will try to rip you off with 15 Turkish lire or more.

I looked at two other hotels in the old city, Askin Hotel and Askoc Hotel. They had views of the Mosques and the Bosphorus but bad reviews on Trip Advisor on the other hand Hotellino had excellent reviews and it is easy to see why.

Whereas many hotels especially those owned by faceless corporations take every opportunity to rip you off, with Hotellino it is what can we do to help you? The staff from the manager down are very helpful and friendly. Not the usual plastic smiles.

An ideal hotel for the independent traveller within easy walking distance of places worth visiting and the tram stop and train station are only a few minutes walk away.

A nice touch on my leaving was to be given a pack of Turkish coffee with instructions on how to make.

I was also on leaving handed a large postcard. The front showing a map of the old part of Istanbul and on the back thanking me for my visit and asking that I post comments on Trip Advisor. This I was more than happy to do as I had anyway been intending to post comments on Trip Advisor.

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