This is a very, very long post on my trip to Istanbul, where I finally met Ozma/Parasitegirl in real life and had a wonderful time filled with dance stuff and caterpillars making cocoons. I have been neglecting my LJ updates and I'm going to make up for it spilling all the details.
My flight left around 14.30 and Shakespeare volunteerd to bring me to te airport, an offer I gladly accepted. I had just returned from Sail camp, also a fun but tiring experience. In retrospect it would have been better if I had taken more rest inbetween. My flight was perfect and because I had the expensive one I got fairly decent food during the flight and a sort of comfortable chair. Upon arrival, the heat made me sweat instantly. It was around 32 degrees celcius and high humidity. The airport welcomed me with a cactus garden and I went smoothly through the visa line and passport control. Outside I found a yellow cab and asked the drver to bring me othe address Ozma provided, but the driver got very confused and decided to call the apartment owner, who told me that she didn't expect me and was not picking me up, and told me to call Ozma. A rather confusng situation ensued, with me texting Ozma, Ozma calling me but me thinking it was the apartment owner, and the drive ending up with bringn me to Galata tower. The moral of the storyis: make sure what the nearest tourist landmark is and you will probably end up in the right place.
I was welcomed by Ozma on the tower square, wearing a fabulous cotton retro dress and cheering because I had arrived :-) By that time it was after sundown and our street was filled with tables full of people breaking fast for Ramadan. Our door was right behind the stage so we apologeticaly ducked to avoid the camera's filming the stage. Up four stairs we climbed to a beautiful apartment which was small and provided us with everything we needed: a small kitchen and kitchen utensils, bathroom and bedrom with two beds. And thak god, airconditioing and an additional ventilator. We got some food from te mini supermarket arondthe corner, Ozma made penne and we fell asleep, both exhausted.
I felt like crap. Atigue hit me like a brick wall and despite sleeping in, I felt like everything was too much an couldn't get into action modus. Ozma and I headed out seperately and I walked upIstiklal street, a large modern shopping area, and ended up at Sim Moda Evi. It involved walking up four stairs and knocking on a dodgy looking door and ben glet in by a Turkish 20 something girl who spoke good English, with mister Sim running around in the background. She took me to one of the rooms (the showroom) and told me the other was their atelier where they worked on making the costumes. The showroom had a big fishtank with tiny colorful fish in it, and walls that were covered with rows and rows of costumes. The most eye catching where the ones with printed silk skirt and the girl mentioned that those were also the most expensive ones. I picked out a couple of costumes to try on and the girl helped me get into the costumes. I learned that my hips are bigger then most costumes allowed. Good, because it made it easier to choose. I ended up liking a turquoise/seafoam costume with purple/gold beading, but the skirt was too short, too narrow in the hips and the design was sort of standard. Also, the price was 800 euro which is standard, buying from importers would give me the same price so I left empty handed.
I circled the area and walked back to our apartment. Ozma had arranged a lesson with Özlem and we had an appointment to meet at 15.30 at taxim square. I checked my phone and checed that it was 14.30 as I was walking up the stairs in our apartment. Got home, turned my iPad on (wi-fi) and iPad said it was 15.30. Timezones and all that. Id sme rfantic running that I do not recoomend in this type of weather. We end up running late, but Özlem looked relaxed when she picked us up from the small square next to a mosque and walked us to her apartment. Big kuddo's to Ozma for arranging the classes, her online searching skills and google maps magic skills saved the day more then once.
Özlems class was Roman, being steps ad combinations for 9/8. It was good, she explained from a belly dancer's point of view and mentioned that there is no 'one true way' to Romani dance. She told us she danced at Galata tower every night. We looked at her with puppy eyes, asking if she could make a reservation for us. If the reservaton is done by a Turkish speaking person/dancer, chances are you get a discount.
That night we made the two minute walk to Galata tower and enjoyed a luxurious dinner and entertainment with a folcloric group, a belly dancer who got Ozma up on stage for the audience participation, and ofcourse Özlem! She is a beautiful dancer, very nice shimmies and very Turkish in her style. No floorwork, no zils. She later told us that zils are considered annoying by the band, as most of the time dancers don't know how to play them well. She didn't propose to the band o dance with zils yet because of that. As a special suprise, the night ended with a long, long performance of a singer who serenaded each country with a song. Ozma managed to hide her flag to avoid the Japanese song, but I was not so lucky. He had a bit of Lee Towers thing going on and went on with singing for over an hour, while all the guests tried to escape by paying the check an dleaving. We waited around for Özlem and talked about being a dancer/perormer. A tipsy woman from Norway came over to say hi and compliment Ozma and Özlem on their dancing, and after that we went back hom for bed. It was a good night.