I’ve made it back to Istanbul, closed up my Middle East mission with a bang. The day I left Israel pictures of settlers being forced out of an occupied house in Hebron were splashed everywhere. Riots and general mayhem apparently ensued. Just another explosion of all the tension I felt there, I guess.
Today is the last day of the haj, everyone’s s’posed to be straight with their pilgrimage at this point. We’ve got a direct feed of Saudi TV at the house here, at the moment it’s just sweeping pictures of 3 million folks clad in white.
Meanwhile just down the hill from the house and all over my neighborhood folks are preparing for the culminating event of this pilgrim season, Kurban Bayram. In every available strip of public land there are makeshift corrals full of fattened bulls and sheep. Just outside the pens hunched men display all kinds of knives for sale. butcher knives, little knives, cleavers. The connection is clear.
So what is sacrifice? Let’s all think about it and get back to each other. My host family escaped to the mountains for the holidays so here’s the predeparture gathering yesterday morning. That’s me, mom, host brother Yunus on the truck with Haylas and Kütük the dogs, host mom Lütfiye and younger bro Deniz.