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Monday, October 15, 2012


I found in my self the love of the ancient times. When I walked through the gates I knew I liked this place. The intensity of history hovering like a cloud over its courtyards felt strong. It was cold but attractive. Build in 1459, by Sultan Mehmed II Topkapi Palace was the primary residence the Sultans of the Ottman Empire for 400 years. It is a large palace located in Istanbul, Turkey. 
Everything was exhibited; bedrooms, sitting rooms, offices, and hammams (bathing rooms) were displayed for the present to meet the past. It was quiet but I could feel the energy of those who lived here many centuries ago. The sense of walking through hallways, bedrooms, and offices of people who lived many years ago was nostalgic. I could feel them, hear their words whispering from echoes in the past. It has been a home to as many as 4000 people at one time. The tour guide explained and brought only a fraction of their lives to our imaginations with concrete facts. In addition to it being a royal residence it was also used for royal entertainment and state occasions. This major tourist attraction holds important holy Muslim relics that include Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) cloak and several swords. This beautiful palace is made up of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings that include a mosque, hospital, bakeries, and a mint. The name Topkapi translates as “Cannon gate Palace” in reference to a close by gate that has since been destroyed.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Write your name

Part a)
My name is Modia Batterjee. Modia my first name pronounced "mo/dee/ya"; I don't know what it means. My mom named me after her grandmother Modia Jewels Cunningham; she was an American from Kentucky; a descendent of William Cunningham of Scotland. Saudi people call me "modi" (mu/dhee) because modia is not an Arabic name. Modi is a very Bedouin name that means the shimmer of the blade of a sharp sword.  My last name is a Saudi name from Hijaz with an unknown origin, however many Indian people I meet tell me it's a typical Indian name. In Arabic the root word of Batterjee, "batter" means amputation. And the entire word together means "he who amputates". My nick name is "mo-dee, Mod, mobi, mox, Snow White, or dingbat". Nobody else has my name besides my great grandmother.

Part b)
Modia is a pretty name, it has a sweet sound to it. I like my name Modia. But unfortunately people don't use it. I don't like Mu-dhee because its beduin and I'm not beduin. It messes me up inside when people call me Mu-dhee and then gasp with surprise when they see me and they say that I don't match my name. It's too heavy, old, and traditional. Women with my name are beduin grandmothers and deep voiced women. I've tried to change my name but I can't imagine another one for me. Modia feels right, Mu-dhee doesn't but the culture forces me to have it. I need therapy. My mom gets mad at me when I discuss the issue.

Part c)
When I search my name on the Internet I either get companies named MODIA, or Modia Bulter who is the Chief of Staff to Mayor of Newark, a man of African decent (I wonder how he pronounces it?), or I get myself. How annoying is that? There is just not that many people out there. If I search Modia Jewels Cunningham I find her (my great grandmother) and her entire family tree. That is exciting. At one point a few years ago I did search her and I found family members whom I still keep in touch with today on Facebook. Through these members we were able to fill in the missing parts on the family tree that included all Modia Jewels’ decedents. I’m sure she would be intrigued to know that her linage has extended to the Middle East. 

Part d)
I like Modia, I like Jewels, and I wish my name was Modia Jewels, but that wouldn’t work here, it’s not an Arabic name. I wish I could just be called Modia. I think I love jewelry because I love her name; I like how Jewels sounds and feels when I say it. Modia Jewels, how pretty is that? I told my husband that my fortieth birthday gift to myself would be to change my name. He asked me the tough question, “what would you name yourself?” Honestly, I have no idea.

I find myself attracted to fine things like lace, roses and teacups; do you think that has to do with the little Scottish blood I have? I think so, there has to be some kind of genetic effect even if is just your taste, likes and dislikes. It is very interesting to look within and find ancestral characteristics of people you have not ever met. I wonder if Modia Jewels would like me? She doesn’t know I exist, or does she? She died giving birth to her third child sometime in the twenties, they named her baby girl “jewels”, just jewels. Jewels died with her mama. That we found out recently from our new relatives. Isn’t that interesting?  My grandmother never knew she had a baby sister and she never knew why her mama died. They told her that she died of a broken heart because their father died a few months before his pregnant wife.

I don’t like the name Mudhee (that’s how it is pronounced in Arabic), although it has a sexy meaning. It makes me feel sad and gives my heart a heavy feeling of rejection. Why is that? Is it because I don’t relate to the Bedouin culture? Or is it because of the reaction I get when people ask me my name. They react with a shocked look and say something like this “what? Your name is Mudhee? That’s old and very Bedouin! You don’t look like a Mudhee. I imagined you to be a big fat old lady with a deep voice”. I smile and that feeling casts itself over me like a cloud.