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Pomegranates and Grapes: Landscapes from My Childhood – Dr Nuray Aykin, author, in an exclusive interview with Mark Ulyseas
“It is actually not Tarsus that I miss, it is Tasucu. I was born in Tarsus, but my parents left that city when I was only two years old. I spent every summer, about three months, and winter, about two weeks, with my grandparents in Tasucu.
What I miss the most is being with my grandfather, “Kara Dede” (meaning “Dark Grandpa” because of his perpetual suntan from the Mediterranean sun). He was kind, sweet, and loving. He never said anything bad to us. His love for us was enormous. He had a lot of stories to tell and a lot of inventions to imagine. Equally, I miss the pomegranates hanging down the trees lining up the dirt path to our stone house, my early morning swims, catching fish with my brother and watching the sunrise, eating cactus fruit that my grandfather peeled and put in the refrigerator for us to eat, my cousins, restaurants serving the freshest fish, going swimming with my friends at midnight, and reading tons of books.” – Nuray
© Nuray Aykin/Mark Ulyseas
Dr. Nuray Aykin was born in 1957 in Tarsus, Turkey. She spent her early childhood in Mediterranean towns and her family moved to Ankara when she started the first grade. She finished her undergraduate and masters degrees in Industrial Engineering at Middle East Technical University in Ankara. She came to the United States in 1981 to pursue her doctorate in Industrial Engineering. Since then, she has taught at Alfred University and George Washington University, and has held managerial positions at AT&T Labs, Human Factors International, Siemens Corporate Research, and The New School. She is the author of Pomegranates and Grapes: Landscapes from My Childhood, a memoir as a gift to her only son who was about to leave home for college. She takes her son on a wonderful and colorful mental journey through Turkey and the United States. She has edited four books and published over forty journal papers and book chapters on usability and cross-cultural design. During her years in the corporate and academic worlds, she was regularly invited to give workshops and present her work at international conferences. After departing her job in 2008, she completed the Institute for Integrative Nutrition program to become a health coach. She currently runs a blog, www.pomegranatesandgrapes.com, about Turkey, and is working on another blog that will feature very simple, 3-ingredient, recipes for cancer patients and for people who would like to eat right to prevent cancer. She is involved with cooking for cancer patients and community garden programs to beautify her town of Keyport, New Jersey. She lives in Keyport, NJ with her husband. She loves to travel around the world, but Turkey is always her destination twice a year.
You can find her book “Pomegranates and Grapes: Landscapes from my Childhood” at Amazon.com
You can follow her stories about Turkey on her blog: www.pomegranatesandgrapes.com