Bir Başkadır (Ethos Netflix) review – a Turkish series like no other

In recent years, my home country has experienced a surge in Turkish soap operas. Turkish soap operas have accumulated a high level of viewership, leading them to being the most aired on some TV channels. In the afternoon, families usually watch one or two Turkish soap operas. The topics vary from impossible love stories, old traditions/customs that stop couples from being together, betrayal, a man being part of a criminal group, and a family tragedy shifting the story.  Don’t get me wrong—some of these soap operas can be really enjoyable, but after watching a few of them, I could start predicting what was going to happen—at least that is what I thought. But I was so wrong! My perception completely changed when I started watching Bir Başkadır (Ethos) on Netflix. This short Turkish series took me by surprise with its complex characters, mesmerizing cinematography, and beautiful soundtrack.

Bir Başkadır (Ethos) 2020

“A slow-burn, dialogue-heavy drama from Turkey, Ethos is nonetheless an excellent and artful series well-suited to Netflix.” — this is how entertainment site Ready Steady Cut summarizes the show. Through different characters from different backgrounds and with different outlooks in life, the story slowly unfolds and we get to know each of them and understand how their lives are connected. 
The story starts with Meryem going to psychologist Peri because she is experiencing some fainting episodes. Meryem comes from the village, she wears a hijab, is employed as a cleaner and lives with her brother, his wife, and their children. Peri is meticulously dressed, well-educated and seems to look down on Maryem for her beliefs. Every character in Ethos appears to represent a certain issue and the audience can easily resonate with more than one of them. Without trying to spoil how the lives of the characters intertwine with each other, I will just say that there are so many connections between them and it was very enjoyable to see these relationships unfold.

The acting is more than professional: it feels real. Some characters are clumsy, some scared, some authoritarian, or great believers. Everything they do feels genuine and as you get to know the characters one by one, you also slowly understand why they act the way they do and can’t help but sympathize. 
What makes this series even more beautiful is the stunning cinematography. Everything from the shots, colors, cuts, as well as the music selection, all together make Ethos a unique series.

Bir Başkadır (Ethos) 2020

The series only had one season, but as Ready Steady Cut writes “For as long as it lasts, Ethos stylishly and excellently accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do.”
I hardly ever rewatch a movie or a series, but Ethos was special and its story is worth reliving many more times.

Egyptian: Arabic Dialects: Between Colonization and Holding their Grounds

If you want to learn Arabic, you will be faced with an utmost challenge: many people aren’t aware that Arabic dialects are diverse to the extent that some countries’ dialects are not even understandable to those of others. Most Native Arabic speakers can read and write Modern Standard Arabic (Fus-ha), but when it comes to speaking, each country developed its own dialect based on historical circumstances. There are plenty of dialects and there is more than one way to categorize them. Sometimes, there can be even more than one dialect within the same country.

The Egyptian Dialect

The Egyptian Arabic dialect is so diverse and has been influenced by many languages due to the colonization of Egypt by many other peoples, such as the Ottomans, the British, the Greeks, the Romans, and the French. 

Even though there are various dialects in Egypt that differ from the North to the South and from the seaside to areas closer to the Nile, there is still a general Egyptian dialect that is understood across the country. It is even understood throughout the entire Arab region. The Egyptian dialect is very popular within the Arab world since the film industry first flourished in Egypt, making it a leading country in the film and music industries. Therefore, the accent is quite common throughout the Arab region. 

So, how did the Egyptian dialect form, and how did it reach its current state? To answer this question, we must look back to when the Arabic language was first introduced in Egypt. When the Arabic language became an official language in Egypt, Coptic—the native language of the original inhabitants—was mixed with Arabic. Some letters took more effort to pronounce, such as the letter ق.. Egyptians altered this letter with ء, as it was easier for them to pronounce. The Coptic language is so infused in Egyptian Arabic that sometimes Egyptians are surprised when they learn the origin of the words they speak now and how it relates to their ancestors. Examples of this are set (woman) and nunu (a baby) originate from the word “nu” meaning “fragile” in ancient Egyptian, and mum (eat for a baby). Embu (I’m thirsty) is derived from the combination of two ancient Egyptian words eb (I want) and mo (water) and was changed to its current form for ease of pronunciation.

The Arabic language as a whole also adopted many Coptic words such as shamsh (sun), which was then changed to shams in Arabic, or wahat (oasis), which was adopted with the same pronunciation. Qalaa (citadel) is derived from the ancient Egyptian combination of two words—ka (high/tall) and ah (great/big). This is also a great example of how languages change and adapt through time. 

The Egyptian dialect features Greek and Italian influences, as there were many Italian and Greek nationals living in Egypt until the 1950s as an extension to the Greco-Roman ruling of Egypt since BC. Words such as brova for fitting room, banio for bathtub, guanti for gloves, and mobillia for furniture are of Italian origin and continue to be used today, as do the Greek words shorba for soup and trabiza for table. 

Egyptian Arabic also has Turkish influences as a result of years and years under Ottoman rule. This includes words like oda (room), aywa (yes), bastirma (dried meat), balta (an axe), and efendim (when someone calls you and you acknowledge them).  

Noticeably, some fields in the country have been dominated by a certain language. For instance, the fashion industry is dominated by the French language. Egyptians use words such as boutique, écharpe, sandales, tailleur, and many more. The automobile industry is also dominated by the French language, so Egyptian Arabic uses words such as capot, klaxon, pare-brise, and radiateur.

No matter where you live in Egypt, people use these words regardless of social class. As a matter of fact, the Egyptian currency symbol L.E. is still called Livre Egyptian which is French for Egyptian Pound.

A full example of this mix of languages is this sentence: “Put the newspaper on the table:”

حط الجرنال على الترابيزه 

In this sentence, there are three languages used—Arabic, French, and Greek. 

Sources: 

Verbling 

Verbling 

Baheyeldin

Coptic.org

Nile FM

Al Manassa 

Vetogate

Orared

Raseef 22

Raseef 22

Ancient Egyptian Obelisks Around the World

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Other Collective. Any content provided by our authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

Ancient Egypt is one of the most remarkable civilizations that has ever existed on the planet, and it is well-known for monumental achievements—including obelisks. These huge granite monolithic structures are made of one stone and have four sides, each side telling stories about the corresponding king’s latest achievements and victories. The obelisk is typically very heavy, weighing up to several hundreds of tons and of thirty meters height. 

If you haven’t been to Egypt, you can still see these masterpieces as many obelisks can be found outside of their birthplace. Currently, there are obelisks in France, England, the United States, Italy, and Turkey. 

France:

One of the four obelisks transferred to France is very significant as it belongs to Ramses II. Written on the obelisk in hieroglyphic is “Ramses II is conqueror of all the foreign peoples, the master over all crowned masters, the warrior who came over millions of enemies, the king who subjugated the whole world to his suzerainty and the world acknowledged his invincible power.”

According to a story that circulates in Egypt, this obelisk was part of an exchange deal that Muhammad Ali Pasha—the Ottoman ruler of Egypt—made with the French. The deal was to give them one of the obelisks in exchange for a mechanical clock that arrived in Egypt faulty due to shipping issues. Regardless of the credibility of the story, it was, in fact, given to France by Muhammad Ali Pasha.

The obelisk has been in the Concorde square in Paris since 1836. 

England and USA:

King Thutmose III had two obelisks in his name that date back to more than 3500 years ago. They were moved from their original place to Caesar Temple around the year 10 B.C. by the Empire Augustus. The obelisks remained in Egypt until the Ottoman Empire took over Egypt; at this point, their representatives decided to give these obelisks as gifts. One was given by the daughter of Khedive Ismail to the United States after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1879. The other one was given again by Muhammad Ali to England 1831; however, it remained in Alexandria, Egypt until 1878, when it was moved to London at a cost of 10,000 sterling pounds—a significant amount of money at the time. 

A story about the Curse of the Pharaohs and the Obelisk in London is commonly told. As it was very heavy to transfer after it was gifted, the obelisk stayed on the ground for years until it was moved on a ship and sailed. While at sea, the ship hit another ship that resulted in the drowning of some men. When the obelisk finally arrived in London, it fell on some of the workers and killed them, but the obelisk itself survived the fall.

Some of the obelisks are mistakenly called Cleopatera’s obelisks even though they were made thousands of years before Cleopatra was born.

Turkey:

The Egyptian obelisk erected in one of the most famous districts in Istanbul belongs to King Thutmose III as well. It used to be in the great Temple of Karnak. It was brought to Turkey by the Emperor Theodosius.

Italy:

Italy has the biggest number of Egyptian Obelisks outside of Egypt with over five obelisks scattered around the country. One stands tall in one of the most famous squares in Rome, St. Peter’s Square in Vatican city. It was built by Amenhotep the Second and was originally in Heliopolis in Egypt before it was moved. Other obelisks are decorating different places in Italy, such as the Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano and Piazza del Popolo.

Most of these obelisks were given by the colonization authority ruling Egypt at the time, without the consent of the Egyptian people. Many have argued that any and all monuments should be returned to Egypt while others have argued that, given the political and social instability of the country, they are perhaps safer abroad. Given the complexities of the circumstance, should these important artifacts be returned to their birthplace regardless? 


Sources: 

Al Masry Al Youm 

Akhbar El-Yom

Masrawy 

Archaeology Travel 

How Stuff Works 

Wonders List 

10 Most Today 

Capernaum

You’ve probably heard of Capernaum. Nadine Labaki’s film was a huge success when it came out in 2018; it won many awards and got the public’s and critics’ attention. The production budget of Capernaum was $4 million, while the film grossed more than $68 million worldwide. It is the highest-grossing Arabic film and the highest-grossing Southwest Asian film of all time.

This Lebanese drama shows us the story of Zain, a 12-year-old boy living in the slums of Beirut with his family. The film focuses on Zain, his life, his anger, and his struggles taking care of a baby to whom he is not even related, as well as  everything he has to face until the last moment where we see him in court, suing his parents for neglect. 

Nadine Labaki brings a very unique story to the big screen, a story so raw and heartbreaking that no other but these child actors could portray the best. In an interview for The Guardian, the director revealed that her team found Zain Al Rafeea, who plays Zain, in a street casting. “He was a Syrian refugee, an angry child, but very wise. He didn’t go to school. He was very small because of malnutrition. He’s in Norway now with his family, and we’re making a documentary about that.” – said Labaki. The Capernaum director also said that in Lebanon, people are exposed to the sight of children suffering on a daily basis and that is where she got the idea to make this film: from asking the children she spoke to if they were happy to be alive, which most said no. One of them even told her: “I don’t know why I was born if no one is going to love me, if no one is going to kiss me before I go to sleep, if I’m going to be beaten up every day.” 

Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers writes that through the camera staying eye-level with Zain, we watch a boy take to the mean streets of Lebanon in desperation. He describes the movie as an emotional powerhouse and highlights that the sorrow inherent in this tale would be unbearable without the film’s flashes of humor and performances by a cast of nonprofessionals that are moving beyond measure.

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian’s film critic, writes that there is passion and compassion in Capernaum, it brings home what poverty and desperation mean, and conversely what love and humanity mean. Bradshaw describes the movie perfectly with one simple sentence: “Capernaum is not a cry from the heart – but an angry shout.”

Personally, I loved this film. It had a way of pulling you in: with a heartfelt story, genuine characters and amazing visuals. It is impressive how much emotion these child actors can induce. No wonder, Capernaum was nominated and won so many awards; stories like this are hard to come by in modern cinema, and there should be more because, as Labaki herself said, “Cinema can affect social change”.

Dadi Haldi’s Long Journey

A hand grabs a pinch of turmeric and sprinkles the aromatic yellow powder into a dish. The young lady leaves the dish to cook with a table of spices laying around. As the room is cleared of any human presence, each spice awakens one by one. There on the table sits Dadi Haldi with her children, Adrak (ginger), Dalchini (cinnamon), and Mirchi (red pepper), wide-eyed and eager to ask questions. Mirchi, the spicy one, makes the courageous move and asks her first question: “Dadi Haldi, how did we all end up here?”

A hand grabs a pinch of turmeric and sprinkles the aromatic yellow powder into a dish. The young lady leaves the dish to cook with a table of spices laying around. As the room is cleared of any human presence, each spice awakens one by one. There on the table sits Dadi Haldi with her children, Adrak (ginger), Dalchini (cinnamon), and Mirchi (red pepper), wide-eyed and eager to ask questions. Mirchi, the spicy one, makes the courageous move and asks her first question:

“Dadi Haldi, how did we all end up here?”

Dadi Haldi, as she occasionally checks on the dish, looks back at Mirchi as the others now stand behind Mirchi, fearful of Dadi’s stern response. Dadi, in nature, is reserved; her true beauty hidden. Still facing the dish, she replies calmly.

 “Finally, you ask about our journey to this new world.” 

Dadi’s nostalgia for her days as a young bowl of Haldi overcame her composed mannerisms, a sight that the young spices were shocked to see. She took a pause and in a flash, Dadi Haldi travels back to the hustle and bustle of the colorful bazaar located on the Malabar coast, what is now modern Western India. She describes her lively stall filled with many different spices.  

“You think we are a huge family of spices,” she says. “Oh, you don’t even know. The sweet family who kept us, they had every spice you could think of. And the son, oh, he always teased me and grabbed a handful of me to color his friends with.”  

Dadi, with a smirk on her face, admits to Dalchini that she thought the boy was cute. She didn’t really have any elder of her own, making her very close with Adrak, Dalchini, and Mirchi’s great-grandparents who were her companions during this time. 

“Mirchi, you think you have a temper? Your great-Dadi–oh, she was a spice the rest of the Dadis knew not to mess with,” says Haldi Dadi, laughing as she reminisces those days.

She continues to tell the younglings how the bazaar was so comforting as her face suddenly drops from a bright smile to dull sorrow. Adrak, the one that can never see anyone sick, turns to her and asks, “Dadi, what happened? Why are you sad?” 

Haldi Dadi takes a deep breath as she begins to unravel wounds that she covered up years ago and promised to never bring up again. “All the spices, in the stall, knew that one day we would be bought. Our responsibility was to go to a home and fill it with our beauty. I sat at the front, right by my Baba, the owner, and I used to see these fair men pass by on large animals with black sticks. They didn’t look like people who bought us daily.” Dadi Haldi was describing the British officers who rode on horses through the bazaar with guns. 

“They used to come up to Baba and tell him all sorts of things. I was young and never understood what they meant. I saw your great-grandparents begin to worry. That night, Baba’s wife took me home to use on her son who had gotten hurt.” Dadi told her babies that the officers were telling the family to either start selling their spices to them, or they’d ensure no one else buys from them. “Baba was desperate, and they started selling to the fair men. Your great-grandparents and I were among the first to leave. Some didn’t make it on our voyage to the new land. Adrak unfortunately your great-grandma left us first,” Dadi says with a frown. 

Wiping her tears away as she sees her babies start to cry, Haldi Dadi begins to compose herself and return to the facts. For her, the voyage to London never seemed to end, where the only scenery she had for months was dark, moldy wood at the bottom of a ship.

“I had forgotten what sunlight looked like at one point,” Dadi points out. Then came the day they arrived at their new home. “This land was unfamiliar and so strange. The humans looked so different. But then we met our new family. They looked similar to our old family, but they wore different clothes.” Haldi Dadi was describing an Indian servant family that helped manage all the spices that were brought from India. She continues on to talk about how this family was forcefully brought to London to work under a fair man that all the fair men followed. She was describing a British General and how other officers would visit his residence. “We all stayed in the kitchen so often that the family would open up about their problems like how the fair women talked rudely to the women.”

Dadi says with anger on her face, “These fair women would yell at my new friends for adding our cousin, Elaichi (cardamom), into their tea. They don’t even know what true tea is if they don’t add my dearest Elaichi.” 

Dadi Haldi described the new customs and listening to her companions’ painful stories made adjusting to their new home difficult:  “As all three of you came into this world, in our new home, I felt as though this new unknown land was becoming my own. The dishes we are used in are the same, and we all are fulfilling our responsibilities,” Dadi says with a more encouraging tone. “So babies, our journey was long. We have made it from land of colors to a land of unknowns. And that is okay.” 

Adrak, Mirchi, and Dalchini, on receiving their answers on Haldi Dadi’s long journey, start to wipe their tears, when suddenly they hear the young lady’s footsteps approaching. With no time to lose, everyone goes back to their positions, and just as the lady returns, Haldi Dadi adds an extra splash of herself into the dish as all her babies go back to sleep. 

Resources: 

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/4287851.pdf

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/10.7312/newm15670.6.pdf?ab_segments=0%252Fbasic_SYC-5187%252Ftest&refreqid=excelsior%3Accbd3345152dec3eb6bb1f0c278d2182

Chai Around The World

Irani chai

This is a unique type of Indian chai made so with the addition of mawa or khoya, which is made by reducing full-fat milk to form pale yellow solids. The result is the delicious and creamy chai many Irani cafe owners are famous for today.

Teh tarik

This Malaysian specialty turns a classic cup of black tea into a smooth, frothy, and creamy cup of chai. It is made with the extra step of “pulling” during the pouring process as well as using condensed milk to sweeten.

Masala chai

This classic tea dates back 500 years to Southeast Asia but is widely popular across the globe today. Brewed with black tea and many other aromatic spices, it is perfect for those cool mornings.

Kashmiri chai (noon chai)

Made with gunpowder tea, milk, and baking soda, this chai is known for its deep pink color. It originated from the northern subcontinent and is especially popular in Pakistan.

Nepali chiya

Chiya is a very flexibly spiced, milky tea enjoyed all throughout Nepal and some parts of Africa, sometimes two to three times a day. It can be made with warming spices such as cardamom during the winter or cooling spices such as mint during the summer.

Karak chai

The unofficial national drink of Qatar, Karak tea is made with simple spices and evaporated milk. Since it isn’t meant to be as spicy as Masala Chai, many recipes will make this with only a couple of spices, such as cardamom and saffron. 

Sat rong cha

Bagladeshi Romesh Ram Gour invented this tea using tea leaves of different densities and layering them in one glass. Also known as “seven color tea,” it is layered in an alternating light and dark pattern with each layer bringing a sweet or spicy kick.

Po Cha

“Tibetan tea,” or butter tea, is very popular in the Himalayan region. It is prepared with yak butter, tea leaves, water and salt, making the tea high in calories, which is perfect for the higher altitudes of the region.

Maghrebi mint tea

Many may recognize this as Moroccan mint tea, as it is brewed with strong green tea, spearmint, and sugar. It is mostly drunk throughout North Africa, parts of the Sahel region, and the Arab world.

Girls of the Sun

Girls of the Sun (original title: Les filles du soleil) is a fictional story based on real events. When creating this film, director Eva Husson was inspired by the bravery of female Yazidi fighters who dared to take on ISIS invaders in Iraqi Kurdistan.


Throughout the movie, we follow a Kurdish female battalion as they prepare to take back their town from extremists. The story is seen through a French journalist’s eyes, who becomes the guide and narrator into telling the stories of these women. 

The main character, Bahar, is played by Golshifteh Farahani. She was a lawyer before being taken hostage by ISIS, raped and tortured. Her husband was killed, and her son was taken away from her. Now, she leads a battalion of women who suffered the same fate as she did, and their aim is to take back her hometown. Singing “Women, Life, Liberty,” their unique advantage is the jihadists’ belief that any fighter killed by a woman will be denied entry into heaven. 

The French journalist who follows Bahar is called Mathilde and is played by Emmanuelle Bercot. She also lost her husband and hasn’t seen her daughter in a long time. This character wears an eyepatch and was inspired by American journalist Marie Colvin, who worked as a foreign affairs correspondent for the British newspaper The Sunday Times from 1985 until her death. She died while covering the siege of Homs in Syria.

Girls of the Sun has split the opinion of critics. Some think it was too dramatic (how can you make a war film not dramatic?); some complain the score was too much or even say that it exists in a cultural vacuum. 

Toby Woollaston, film reviewer for NZME regional media, writes that Girls of the Sun does seem to lose focus at times because it has too many stories to tell. Its style bounces between a taut gritty war tale and melodrama. Nonetheless, stresses Woollaston, Husson’s confident approach, if occasionally overbearing, built enough suspense and sympathy to get him swept up in the film’s cause.

Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw, on the other hand, describes Girls of the Sun as heartfelt, forthright, and muscular. He writes that the film halts with these women’s provisional victory, and while it may seem naïve, there is naivety in believing there is no plausible way of showing good triumphing. Girls of the Sun, according to Bradshaw, is partisan, and it wears its heart on its sleeve: a powerful, forceful story. 

After watching the film, I must say I was completely overwhelmed by it. I am happy I watched it before reading the reviews, some of which, in my opinion, were nitpicking the film. 

I have watched and reviewed many movies throughout my work, but this one felt very raw. The story makes you angry and makes you want to fight for justice for these women. In the end, Bahar tells Mathilde to tell the truth. And that is what she does. She describes what is happening to these women and how they turned their fear into a fight. That is what I believe Husson is trying to show with this piece, and I think she achieved what she wanted, despite the criticism she received.

The Mountain Rumbled

“I wrote this poem shortly after the tragedy at the port of Beirut. Among the images of the aftermath, I noticed images of people in their ruined homes, cooking and sharing food. I was inspired by the perseverance and adaptation of cuisine through times of struggle, and the way it unifies us on an essentially human level.” -Christopher Alam

We are still –

On the volcano’s edge,

victims of sympathy

dates dried up in the heat

pumice sizzling manaeesh,

olive trees exiled on the slope,

cursing coffee for boiling

blaming the volcano for erupting,

         making heaps of these bones,

         and conjuring kanafeh.

We look down from our mountain

somehow breaking bread

– starving.