Friday, July 28, 2017


13 th. century Anatolia.

The Kayis are on the move, seeking fertile land to settle and raise their herds, a place their people can call home. Suleyman Shah, the tribe’s leader, and his wife, Haime Hatun, have four sons. The eldest is missing, feared dead. The next is an upstanding guy, a stickler for rules, a bit of a stuffed shirt. The third son is Ertugrul, brave and fearless, a born leader, willing to risk the approval of the tribe and of his family for what he knows to be the way forward for all of them. The forth son is still young, a warrior in training.

Life is precarious on the Steppes. The Kayis are beset with threats – Crusaders to the west, Mongols to the east, enemy infiltrators worming their way into trusted positions within the tribe – no shortage of clashing swords or accurately aimed arrows. Who can you trust?

 They long for a land of their own and a peaceful life.

Of the two middle sons, the stuffed shirt seems destined to be the law enforcer. Ertugrul, though he doesn’t seek power and importance, with his vision, will likely take his father’s place as head of the tribe. Meanwhile, he and his three most faithful ‘alps’ take care of hunting, protection of the tribe from their enemies and training of the younger warriors.

21st. century - 2017, Florida.

It is hot and muggy. No threats from marauding Mongols or bloodthirsty Crusaders. Our biggest worries are a new president who is not presidential, but mercifully far away in Washington, and mosquitoes who are right here and hungry.
  One evening in June the OC happens on a show on Netflix. Not much of a television fan, I am nevertheless drawn to sit and watch awhile. ‘Resurrection: Ertugrul’ is the title. The next evening he turns it on again. Drawn as by a magnet, I sit and watch. Three episodes. Next evening, the same. And so it went, for a month. Serious addiction. How did that happen? Me, who has always viewed soap operas with disdain, addicted to a show with definite soap opera overtones?

13 th. century Anatolia.

 Ertugrul is out riding one day with his three faithful Alps, Turgut, Bamsi and Dogan. They come upon a man and his son and daughter being abducted under suspicious circumstances. Swords are drawn, a battle ensues and, in true hero style, they fend off the villians, rescue the family and bring them back to their tribe’s settlement. The man  turns out to be a Seljuk prince. His young son is Yigit (whom we fondly call Eegit, for our inability to wrap our tongues around the correct Turkish pronunciation) and his beautiful daughter is Halime, simplified by the OC for American consumption to “Holly-Mae.”

This sets the stage for a never-ending saga. We’ve watched the first two seasons and I’m in serious withdrawal as it will be a while before season three is available. The show reminds me of tales, learned long ago in school, of good against evil, of Cuchullain, the Hound of Ulster, Oisin, Niamh and Tir na nOg and other stories from Irish mythology.

21st. Century, 2017, Florida

Hugely intrigued by the total abandon with which I’ve immersed myself  in this story, I

said as much to some friends one day at lunch. We're talking serious addiction here.They looked at me and – both together, with ‘Duh!’ undertones - said “Because you were there!” 

Seriously? Could it be? They were not joking. They were almost matter-of-fact, almost "how-could-you-not -figure-that-out-for-yourself?" Educated women with their feet on the ground and lifetimes of experience.

Temporarily suspending my skepticism, I’ve been entertaining that possibility.  Maybe that is why the show appeals to me on such a gut level.  Maybe the universe is the biggest recycler of all and I have been there in a previous life. It epitomizes so many things that resonate with me. First of all is the feeling of community and continuity, how everyone in the tribe pulls together; how members of the tribe know, and live, with the same group of people from birth to the grave. Secondly, the pace of modern life is too fast for me. A walking pace would suit me just fine. Horseback would work. I wouldn't be as skittish as I am if I'd been born to it! I love how their lives are ruled by honor, integrity, bravery and respect for their traditions, along with generous helpings of skullduggery, backstabbing traitors, evil plotters and scheming women. All of human life. There is romance too, conveyed in an understated way that doesn’t make me squirm in my chair or turn me into a Peeping Tom. I like that in a show.

And, wonder of wonders, I haven’t heard one of the four letter words that are so liberally sprinkled throughout most American TV shows. Directors of our shows seem to believe that foul language is cool and essential for good ratings. Ertugrul is in Turkish so I can't say for sure, but, it doesn’t show up in the sub titles! I’m fine with that too.

The Kayi women weave and spin, appliqué and embroider. Their beautiful textiles and rugs are in high demand for trading at the caravansaries. Their yurts are insulated with animal skins and richly woven tapestries. The costumes are stunning, the colors brilliant, the womens' beaded headdresses works of art, the theme music divine. All of which, for me, was a feast for the eyes, but I’m sure it was the sword fights, of which there were many, that kept the OC tuning in, along with heavy doses of political intrigue. 

 In the modern world, though I’m a believer in trusting people until, and unless, they prove themselves untrustworthy, it is becoming more and more difficult to tell the good guys from the bad. Paris, London, Brussels, Istanbul, Manchester….We were horrified by 9/11 but now we’re accustomed to horror. Where will it end? What kind of world will we leave for our grandchildren?

Maybe it’s a longing for transparency and honesty in our politicians. Maybe we could send them on a journey back in time where, along with sword fighting, Ertugrul and his alps could school them in honor, service, integrity, and the like, not to mention horsemanship!

Maybe it’s escapism, a thirst for good, rollicking, old fashioned stories. Maybe it’s a naïve belief that we may still have heroes among us who will save us from the villains. A quote from my current read says it best……

‘In my perception, the world wasn’t a graph or formula or an equation.
It was a story.’

It is a story.

Roll on season three!  


Marigold Jam said...

Sounds intriguing and the music on that little video took me right back to Turkey which I fell in love with some years ago when I visited with a friend and we stayed in yurts in an olive grove and everywhere that kind of music. I am off to see if I can get hold of the videos!

Elephant's Child said...

Sisters under the skin.
This world moves to fast for me too. And quite a lot of 'progress' I consider to be retrograde steps.
And the Turkish culture fascinates me.
Speaking of which, have you read any of Barbara Nadel's mysteries set in Turkey?

gz said...

Heartbreaking to watch this then watch what is happening there now

Thimbleanna said...

You're so funny. I'm thinking your friends are probably on to something. I could do with a slower pace of life too -- do you think that makes us old?

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Just been to an exhibition at the Military museum about Genghis Khan , which irritated me ... it wasn't really very good . I think I should have sat at home and watched this instead .
(The incredible energy and fortitude necessary then , tells me that whenever and wherever I lived before it wasn't the Steppes in the 12th century )

Molly Bon said...

Marigold - And when you've worked your way through them there's another Turkish series called The Magnificent Century. It'll fiil the gap while waiting for season three of Ertugrul! The OC visited Istanbul once but our children were young and I couldn't go. Then more recently we got detoured their, but only saw the airport. Sigh.

EC - No, I have not read that author but will look her up.

gz - the whole world is upside down today - but, the pendulum keeps swinging.....

Anna Banana - I've always thought I'd fit better in the world if I'd been born in my grandmother's time - a more sedate pace, children nearby, Sunday dinners with grandchildren, none of this flitting around in airplanes!

S&S - You are more realistic than me. Now that you mention it I probably don't have that level of energy and fortitude....

Molly Bon said...

Oh my. I can't believe I wrote 'their' in reference to a place!! Forty grammatical lashes for me....

Susan Kane said...

This is a fascinating mini-series! We will have to find it and watch it, since it is exactly stories that catch us.

Your writing in the post is engaging, excellent. "Their or There or, even, They're" is always a problem, and it is not caught as misspelled. (I have a tee shirt explaining these different meanings.)


Dee said...

Dear Molly, I so enjoyed this post as I recently became addicted to the five seasons of "Longmire," which is really simply a romance story for men. A true man's soap opera and yet I watched it obsessively. Like you, I'm waiting for the next season.

As to living before, I do believe in reincarnation and I believe I've lived before. The seed of that belief was sown back in 5th grade when Sister Mary McCauley introduced us to ancient Greece in our history text. When we came to Thebes, I felt sure that I'd been there before. That was in 1945.

Then in 1993, I traveled to Greece. Both in Thebes and in Dodona I felt something change within me--something called to me and my whole self answered. That's why I'm now working on a historical novel that takes place in Bronze-Age Greece. Just doing the research is a feast for me.

Thanks for the "netflix" review. I'll go there and look at the first episode of Ertugrul and see if it enthralls me too. Peace.

Molly Bon said...

Susan - It really was absorbing. And then we found The Magnificent Century and I lost my heart again.
Have you ever heard of Quora? They had a question recently "Can you write a sentence containing 'There, their and they're'? Thanks for dropping in...

Dee - I'll have to check that one out. Thank God for Netflix. I just cannot abide normal TV because of the obnoxious ads.

Lee said...

Since hooking up to Netflix and Stan in early July...I've been bingeing on some great series, and loving it, the bingeing....c
Good-bye, cruel world - I'm too busy streaming to be worried about you! :)

Molly Bon said...

Lee - Normally in summer I'd spend a lot of time outdoors. But global warming has changed everything. It could be called 'global cooking'as hot as this summer's been, which isn't funny as there have been reports recently of people dying of the extreme heat - in India, I think. Not that bad here yet, but bad enough to keep you cowering indoors.

Extra note to Dee - re-reading your comment Dee, it occurred to me that maybe our nuns never introduced us to Greek mythology for that very reason. They didn't want us straying from the 'one true faith!'

Pauline said...

Reading here is always such great fun, I can't imagine what's kept me from blogging for so long!

I remember distinctly feeling a strong sense of deja vu when we tramped the VT acreage that eventually became my home for 12 years. I saw a figure under a huge fir tree at the edge of the property and asked the real estate agent who that might be, but he saw no one, nor did my then-husband or children! I can still see him in my mind's eye... I never did meet him in person, more's the pity.

I must look up the series you are watching. I can stream on my computer :)

Molly Bon said...

Feeling the presence of people long dead - you must have ESP, like my sister.If I retraced my footsteps it would be a journey of love. When I walked the fields on the mountain behind my grandparents farm I had such a feeling of connection to that place, though I'd been born and grew up in a town 25 miles away. I regret that my children don't have that feeling about any particular place since we moved so often while they were growing up.

oh_THAT_Keara said...

Yes yes yes!! Resurrection Ertug-RULES!

I also became an addict. It gave me the same feeling I had after the debuts of the first "Star Wars" movie and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"* --- that I'd just felt the first ripple of a big, big wave.

"There will be Resurrection Ertugrul fan fiction," I predicted, "and a lot of it probably won't be safe for work."**

If it gets really popular in English-speaking countries, they'll probably re-do the subtitles at some point to correct the occasional incomprehensible non-sentences... but sadly, they'll almost certainly also throw out the devastatingly correct usages of "cahoots," "asshat," “inglorious bastards,” and other unexpected Americanisms that left me ROTFL. I get the impression that the translation was done by multiple people, one of whom had recently gone to high school or college in the US. If you ask me, that person should oversee the whole revision - but no one's likely to ask me.

I worry, though, whether this is the best year for the show's US introduction:
Many Americans are willing to read subtitles, are interested in other cultures in general, have personally met Muslims they like, and enjoy seeing history from more than one side.
Many Americans love stories about clean-living heroes willing to die for faith and family in a scenery-blessed world where the villains are easy to hate and the horses never have to go to the bathroom. (After a while R:E "watches like" an old-school Western, especially in season 2, but it isn’t a bad thing).
After that divisive 2016 election and its aftermath, is anybody in both groups (and admitting it) except you and me?

Had to share: To lighten up AFTER you’ve watched Season 2’s very intense “Two Guys in Black Robes Go Into a Caravansarai” scene (memory refresher) (I think it’s Netflix ep. 78 or 79), watch THIS version (couple of small Turkish boys NOT having nightmares).

*I could try to hide my age by pretending I saw THOSE in a past life but… naah.

**but I never expected that I would write it… Oh well, I’ve probably got a Handbasket with my name on it already, for letting the thought cross my mind that Engin Altan Duzyatan would make a great Brawny™ Paper Towel Guy.

Molly Bon said...

At last! A comment from someone who'd actually seen the show!What fNow I want to know where to accessyour R.E. fan fiction....I was bereft when we got to the last episopde in Season 2. But, all was not lost, we found The Magnificent Century and became engrossed in that. That eventually finished and we were faced with another void - oh no! But Yunus Emre was waiting in the wings! I loved all of them. I'm not Turkish, but somehow these shows resonated deeply with me. I think it may be true that I was there in another lifetime! At least it's fun to imagine that. Thank you for your interesting comment. I enjoyed reading it.

Oh_THAT_Keara said...

I like reading you too!
The first few chapters of "Losing It in Anatolia" are on Archive Of Our Own here. The site's still in beta, but I really like that it seems to be run by grownups who think about things like... oh, copyright law. It seems to attract a lot of quality. Wattpad would have been my second choice because it has some Ertugrul fanworks in Turkish (too bad those are in image form and the text can't be copy/pasted into a translator).
I binged in the opposite order: Yunus right after Ertugrul, and mid-Magnificent now.
The Netflix summary buries the lead on Yunus; my background reading revealed that he became one of Turkey's most celebrated poets, and possibly the first to write original sacred Islamic verse in Turkish rather than Arabic or Farsi. I loved the portrayal of Tapduk Emre as the classic "mess-with-your-head" spiritual teacher.* I like to fancy that some Turkmen who would have been (or perhaps were, in past lives) Tengric shamans in earlier times became dervishes under Islam.
I find Magnificent to be frothier and more heavily scented than the other two Turkish soaps, but I'm still hooked. OMG the architecture! And the fabrics! And how do Halit Ergenc and his director make the Suleyman character more charismatic with every episode? In ep1 I thought he looked scruffy and a little chameleon-eyed. Then around ep5 he crossed the "wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating baklava" threshold, and he gets more magnificent as it goes on.
Alexandra is as good at being a slave as I was at going to Catholic school, so in a way I identify with her. On the other hand, I toiled for decades learning to stifle emotional outbursts, exterminate clinginess and neediness, resist the urge to try to manipulate others, weaponize etiquette, and "read a room." Watching Hurrem rise to the top by indulging all the bad traits I suppressed can sometimes make me furious --- but, flattened by chronic exhaustion as I presently am, a little recreational fury might be good for me.
On past lives, my current theory is that reincarnation is probably one of many options. I, too, get impressions of other lives in other places and (so far, just earlier) times. These impressions, when triggered, spring up with much more immediate detail and resonance than things I intentionally imagine. So far, mine are all just regular folks. When I meet somebody who says their past life was a big name like Charlemagne or Cleopatra, I have to bite back a reflexive "Golly, what'd s/he do, to have to come back as YOU?"
I'd previously "remembered" one life with lots of horses and tents and killer embroidery, but it wasn't 13th c. Anatolia, it was 17th c. Siberia. Still, that Turkish scenery looks so darned familiar! Maybe it'll come back to me.
Are they past lives I lived personally? Stories conveyed by ghosts? Patterns formed when I dipped my spoon into the alphabet soup of the collective unconscious? Something else entirely? No clue, but I'll be sure to let you know.
*see, e.g., Benetsee in Peter Bowen's Gabriel Du Pre books or the monks in Eliot Pattison's Inspector Shan books.

oh_THAT_Keara said...

Just an update: I'm now enjoying "Filinta," a Turkish cop show set in the Ottoman Empire of the late 1800s. The production values are great, the plots are engaging, and the subtitles are pretty good. Fans of "Copper" and "Ripper Street" might also like "Filinta" (named after the main character's carbine handgun).

oh_THAT_Keara said...

One more update: For International Fanworks Da I wrote a short PG-rated Resurrection: Ertugrul fanfiction featuring Baiju Noyan and his GRANDKIDS! To read it, copy and paste this link into your address bar.