Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann column 55 – Let’s talk about culture…. and the circle of life

The first day of the year is young and fresh with the sun shining and some salmon-coloured morning clouds hanging over the calm sea. The old year was hiding its head behind a heavy dark shawl, the sea was wild and the earth shaking its skin free from the dust and burnt leftovers and showing a juicy green with first spring flowers we will discover when we do our usual New Year’s Walk. Nature had done a good wash down to start the New Year, all fresh and sparkling now.

We should do that for ourselves as well, with body and soul… have the old skin rubbed off. I have booked me in for a massage one of these coming days… I believe I have deserved it. I am not quite sure, but there is a hamam in the one or other hotel around Girne, oh that would be just great.*) I have very little experience with such visits, one I did in Budapest in the old famous Gellert Hotel in the 1960s, although it was not a true hamam, the others I did in Kuşadası in Turkey in 1987, and last year right in the centre of the Black Sea mountains, but each time I felt as if I had grown wings. I usually say that I don’t have the time to do it but it is a tempting thought, isn’t it?

But please come in and sit with me by the open fire I have lit first thing when I came down in the morning, it gives off a friendly atmosphere and good warmth and we can relax. Did you feel a very short shudder the other day in the old year, the house shaking, my chair rocking, even the image on my computer screen? It was an earthquake south of Cyprus, my husband says it was south of Antalya…. It was NOT the rocket exchange between Libanon and Israel. I wished this rain had washed their heads and cleared their minds of so much hate. Let’s have some çay, ada çay, it’s good for your health. Ah ya, our health….have you done your new year resolutions yet? I did last night already at five minutes past midnight while we were waiting for a sign showing in the sky to give us an idea of the future.

I thought of all my families and friends around the world; all day I had done preparations for the festive dinner, a ‘table grill’ which we love doing because it goes on for hours and as the host you can stay seated because the guests are their own cooks. All my work was done before. What we did with the rest of the time until the clock stroke twelve? We told stories of past events and talked about future plans, as usual. When our kids were smaller we had sat down around the big table and I asked them to write down - on slips of paper I had distributed - what had made them angry in the past year and what their biggest wish was for the new one, all without names; then from all the slips of paper mixed well in a hat, we pulled out one each and read it aloud and so we learnt what was cooking in the minds of our family and close friends. My parents still did lead-pouring to learn the future, a different form of coffee cup reading as they do it here, and with dance music on the turn table they danced into the new year…Charleston and Quickstep and the like and the night sky was full of reflections of the rockets over the town nearby. Things have not changed much, though a little less stylish and formal. I read in the papers that every third German adult is now watching the cult movie ‘Dinner for One’ written by the British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre in the 1920s. It has also reached other countries such as Australia and South Africa. Have you seen the short sketch?

Then, shortly before twelve, windows were opened to listen for audible signs, or the radio station to hear the clock strike twelve, and we all got ready with glasses of champagne in our hands…..just imagine this picture of all humans around the globe, holding glasses of champagne to salute the new year ….an incredible picture, all standing still and doing the same, thinking the same, expecting the same and kissing each other with peace and love in mind. Wonderful.

A short moment of equality and all in unison. Then, yavaş yavaş,  the music dies and sleep overcomes the world and all wake up to a new year when all the old habits are resumed….Will we resume our old habits, tell me, will you?  I will certainly try to change some things because with the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe … ‘we have to change, renew and rejuvenate ourselves in order to avoid hardening’….

What we always have done on the first day of the young year is to undertake a long walk along the beach of Akdeniz to air the system and find new stones, sea polished pieces of wood, even bones to add to my collections. We then go home and exchange the calendars on our writing desks and over the months to come…. we will watch the days getting longer and the sun roll down the hill when in mid-summer it plunges right into the sea for a couple of days and resumes its way back to where it is right now. In a short while, around the end of January,  we shall the see the almonds blossom and the brush covering the hills with its yellow colour and smell and we will resume our duties day by day just as the rest of nature does.

So you see, a new beginning is closely linked with the end just past. The circle of life.


Circle of Life – Lion King by Elton John

From the day we arrive on the planet

And blinking, step into the sun

There's more to see than can ever be seen

More to do than can ever be done

There's far too much to take in here

More to find than can ever be found

But the sun rolling high

Through the sapphire sky

Keeps great and small on the endless round


It's the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle

The Circle of Life



*) please check with the internet



Hamam in Istanbul
Hamam in Istanbul

Lion King and the song Circle of Life
Lion King and the song Circle of Life

Cemal Tunceri and the New Year
Cemal Tunceri and the New Year

a caricature by Luboniv Kotrha valid for all years
a caricature by Luboniv Kotrha valid for all years

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