After a 9 hour plane ride (Turkish Air is terrific), we landed at about 2:30 in the afternoon in Istanbul. After a brief period of misunderstanding, my host's husband and I found each other...and I was quickly exposed to Istanbul's daredevil traffic scene. Keep in mind, I have been in busy traffic cities before; I go into Boston often (Massachusetts drivers have been recognized nationally for their rudeness) and have driven through New York City, but Istanbul was a  whole new level for me of traffic intensity. Old narrow streets, mixed in with modern highways produced some interesting traffic patterns.

Also, Istanbul is a huge city--at over 15 million people, it is nearly twice the size of New York and almost 30 times the size of Boston! However, despite its antiquity, it is a very modern city, very much
established in the present day.

I met Senay in her office and it was wonderful to meet a student who I had been in contact with for six years but never met face to face. She had a guest--the woman who was grand daughter of Rumi and was head of
the organization that oversees the Whirling Dervishes (Name). This woman has been involved in unearthing some of the astrology from the Ottoman Empire (1298-1922), and Senay has uncovered evidence that the
Ottoman emperors insisted that their astrologers be trained in India, and some ancient texts unearthed recently support this.

I was invited as a guest to see the dervishes, but unfortunately, the trip was too short to accomplish this. But I did feel like Senay exposed me to a woman who was a keeper of Turkey's history and a valuable research
resource for the future. She does come to the United States and I do plan to meet with her when she comes here.

I was introduced to a great many people that first day, including Senay's boxing instructor, a man who had held the national title in Turkey. I was given some gifts, we ate and spoke and then I went to bed. The next morning I woke to the call to prayer from a nearby mosque. It was quite lovely and a great way to wake up.

The following day we met with a very wealthy man with bodyguards who was one of Senay's clients. I was provided with a Byzantine ring modeled after the Byzantine emperor's ring. It was very heavy, solid and impressive. I was also gifted with a pearl mala. It was quite beautiful and much more than I expected. It was a very lovely meeting held in a hotel suite that overlooked the area where Europe and Asia meet.

The next day, I was invited to do readings in Senay's office. I did several astrology readings and also managed to get a great deal of practice in my palmistry. As many of you probably know, palmistry and astrology are symbologically linked, and it was fascinating to sit down without birth data and analyze what people's live were like based on certain basics of palmistry. The Indian astrological tradition is strongly linked to palmistry, face reading, aura reading (my first divinational experience, at age 19) and even reading the base of the foot (Samudrika Sastra). Being in a culture that was as accepting of these practices as Turkey is certainly helped, and there was certain level of reverence that was expressed to me as an astrologer that I have never experienced. And I can honestly say it was not an ego boosting experience--it was energizing and enabling, that is true, but I actual felt more humbled by the experience,

On the weekend, we took a short trip to Eridne, about two hours from Istanbul, to see a concert and on Sunday we rested and ate with Senay's family.

On Monday, I was able to rest a bit but also met with some friends. It was a good thing that I could rest because Senay and I were booked to appear on a late night show broadcast on CNN Turkey, Turkey's most watched network. It was a rapid paced talk show with several nationally known Turkish entertainers. I did a reading for the host (off air) and was able to declaim on the year ahead (I am very grateful for my translator, who was remarkable), while Senay did mundane predictions.

Kepler College was mentioned, as well as the need for formal education in astrology, several times. The show ended at 2 AM and I woke at 9 the next morning for more meetings and introductions and readings-paid and unpaid-and soaked up the people and happiness I could sense in Istanbul. It felt very much like home.

Tuesday and Wednesday I was both doing readings, paid and unpaid, and talking about different matters of life in Istanbul and Turkey in general. I met some delightful people and potential students there.
There is, as everyone has seen lately, a great deal of danger in Turkey currently, and I was with people who knew their way around the country, so we consciously avoided locations that were more tourist-oriented.

Wednesday I went to enjoy a meal with Senay's friends, one of whom was a world renowned belly dancer and the other a world renowned fashion designer.

On Thursday I had the delight of meeting with a womans' group that were societal movers and shakers in Istanbul and had a delightful time discussing astrology with them.In the evening I met with another student of mine who was located in Istanbul and had a delightful dinner with her, her husband and her friend.

Finally, on Friday, rather than winding down, I had some Reiki healings and readings, and appeared on another television show with Senay, this time a more serious toned show in which we were interviewed by two female reporters with a keen interest in all forms of spirituality, but especially astrology. Again, Kepler was mentioned frequently on the show and the interviewers seemed truly involved. One of the interviewers followed up with several questions after the show was completed.

Finally, late at night we met with the Queen of Istanbul, a well known traditional singer in Istanbul. This woman was truly regal and carried herself like a queen.

The next day was farewell. Senay and her family really made me feel like I was in a home away from home. I hope to be returning to Istanbul frequently in the future and perhaps even report on the tourist spots.
But to be honest, whenever I travel, I always find the people more fascinating than the monuments to the past. They are the living history of a place, and embody the culture of the past in the present.

Many many thanks to all the people who made my trip so memorable--especially to Senay and her family!

Gary Gomes
April 5, 2016

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