23/12/2012, Sunday, Beverly Hills
Our first stop in Beverly Hills was the supermarket so we could prepare food in the flat we are renting. All women I saw here had a nose job. All had the same nose. Some men also clearly had facial plastic surgery.
As we were driving from Palm Spring to Los Angeles, we stopped by Upland to visit F.’s kindergarden teacher. F.’s teacher was of course very happy about our visit. L. attracted a lot of attention. Although, the teacher’s husband went to the TV room to watch a game; even though there were guests in his house. Clearly, he lacks some manners.
It seems like my dear L. is now quite used to the road trip. It is of course necessary to constantly entertain her and keep her occupied. But generally, she is very mature and so sweet. She particularly loves meeting new people and being the center of attention. She talks by herself or takes part in the conversation with her baby language. All three of us still suffer from jetlag. Some nights, L. wakes up every 1 or 2 hours. By 5 am, she is completely awake. So we start our day early. By 8 pm, we can no longer keep our eyes open. But my poor L. is coughing. She had it since London but it increased here and it is not going away. Also, she is not eating any proper warm/cooked food. She only eats a little bit of dry, snacky food. I am always worried that she is not getting enough nutrition.
We rented a flat in Beverly Hills for a few days. Especially, with a baby, it ends up being much cheaper and more comfortable than a hotel.
350 N. Crescent, Unit 101. It is a very nice flat and the location is fantastic. It is right in the middle of Beverly Hills. However, LA and its surroundings are nothing like in the movies. LA is very ugly, actually dangerous. Based only on what I could see today, Beverly Hills doesn’t look that special either. There are more elegant neighborhoods in London and Paris.
We even had guests in the evening. F.’s highschool friends came over with their wives. L. was of course very happy again to meet new people and get attention.
24/12/2012, Monday, Beverly Hills, CA
When we started the day with clouds and even heavy downpour, I was almost happy. The dry weather really disturbed our skin, eyes and nose since we arrived in America. My nose is bleeding everyday. A little humidity was good. Under these weather conditions, we drove around Beverly Hills’ slopes and saw the mansions, villas, small palaces and passed through Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive and Mulholland Drive.
These places remind me of the hilly neighborhoods of Bosphorus. Of course the houses and roads are much more orderly. The area is wider.
What I liked the most here is actually the nature. The density of palm trees and other greenery, especially under the rain, left a tropical impression on me. In places, I felt like I was in Brazil. The nature is very different here than in the East Coast of the USA.
As the time passed, the weather improved and the sun reappeared. We went to the city center. The only thing worth seeing in this dangerous, ugly and "not worth visiting" city is the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is relatively new.
It is a successful work of architect Gehry. As it is Christmas Eve, so without experiencing the congestion of the infamous Los Angeles traffic, we went to Hollywood Boulevard. Even though, I didn’t have any high expectations from this place, I was disturbed by the soul of this road and neighborhood.
It is so superficial. It is lonely and sad. It was made worse when I was tricked by a tourit peddler to forcefully buy a CD. It is place that one goes when in Los Angeles (though, it is not worth coming to Los Angeles either) but it is really not necessary. The sad atmosphere around here is darkened by the multitude of the homeless, alcoholics and mentally deranged.
We went to Farmer’s Market for lunch. It wasn’t bad but as L. was crying, we couldn’t really walk around, decide our food and eat. Making the most of the easy traffic flow, we went around elegant neighborhoods of Westwood, Wilshire, Bel-Air and the enormous UCLA campus. In these areas, we felt better. After passing through Wilshire Boulevard, which corresponds to Nisantasi in Istanbul and Sloan Street or Mayfair in London, we met again with F.’s high school friends in front of our flat. They took us to Santa Monica for dinner – 15 minute distance without traffic.
On the way, I saw the Sony/ATV office building. Sonta Monica is a nice area. It is like Istiklal Street (Beyoglu) in Istanbul or Oxford Street in London. At the end of this very long day, we are very exhausted due to making a journey with a 15 month old baby, long road trips, and the never ending jet lag. F. is unwell. L’s coughing is not getting better and is worrying me. I am also concerned by the fact that my memory is really weak due to exhaustion (I keep on asking the same questions over and over again). I wish that all three of us would sleep well, get well and rest during this holiday.
25/12/2012, Tuesday, Beverly Hills, CA
Today is our 5th Bangladeshi wedding anniversary with F.
As I was getting ready this morning, I was nervous as if I was really going to come face to face with Michael and talk to him. I didn’t like the deodorant I put on, I washed it off, tried different fragrances. I wanted my outfit to be perfect. I worried about concealing the dark circles and lines under my eyes appearing due to aging and lack of sleep.
As today is Christmas and everywhere is closed, I couldn’t find sunflowers (Michael’s favourite flower). Thankfully, I could find gerberas resembling sunflowers at the florist at the entrance of Forest Lawn. The security guard at the entrance of the Holy Terrace building told me that this is a private area, no one is allowed to enter and that it can only be visited from outside. As such, the front of the terrace is home to flowers and letters left for Michael.
Even seeing the flowers and notes left here started off my crying. I waited for a fan who was standing quietly in contemplation in front of the Holy Terrace door to leave because I wanted to be alone with Michael there. As my turn came up and I stood up in front of the door, my tears turned into floods.
I greeted Michael and for some reason I don’t know, I apologized for being so late. Then I read aloud the letter (pages and pages) I started writing in August 2009 (of course, unfortunately in tears and as my mascara running down on my cheeks). Behind me, there was a middle aged woman waiting in contemplation. Even after I finished my letter, hung my flower and letter on the door, I couldn’t manage to leave the place. As I leaned my hand and face on the door crying, suddenly someone opened the door from inside and told me I could come in! I couldn’t believe my luck. Just like a dream. I could enter this private and restricted place.
At the end of a long and cold corridor, under colourful stained glass, Michael’s tomb was right in front of me.
There were letters sent by post and flowers, Christmas tree and garland placed by cemetery employees. I also left my flower and letter here. This was the time I could ever get closest to Michael (2-3 meters). When he is in that cold marble stone, which doesn’t suit him at all.
This place doesn’t suit Michael. His resting place should not be this cold, dark stone. He should be in nature, one with soil, under the warm sun, among people, light and love…I prayed for his soul. I introduced L. to Michael and at the end I had to say goodbye in tears with the prayer of meeting in the next life.
Outside, the same middle aged woman was sitting in grief, contemplating. She asked me how I managed to get inside and about the amount of flowers.
It was a surreal experience. As if it never happened. But it did and made me complete.
Our next stop was Hayvenhurst Avenue in Encino, so the house where Michael grew up and lived with his family before moving to Neverland. The house is currently in renovation. It is not clear whether or not the family will move back here. It wasn’t of course possible to see inside through the iron gates; however, I had a long conversation with Tarek, the security guard and he told me about his memories with Michael. He became one of his bodyguards in 2008, when Michael was living in Las Vegas. Tarek said that when Michael first gave him his hand and said “Hello, I am Michael Jackson”, he was surprised that his knees were shaking even as a man. Tarek asked him how he should address him and he responded “Usually they call me Mr. Jackson but my family calls me Mike.”
According to Tarek, he would ask questions to which he already knew the answer and then say whether or not the answer was correct in order to test the people around him.He was always alert, always 10 steps ahead and expected everyone around him to be the same. Tarek said that he loved to play jokes but when it came down to work, he was very serious and concentrated; even his rehearsals would last 12 hours a day.
He said that even the dancers younger than him would get tired before him. Tarek said that they first started the rehearsals in Grand Western Forum before moving on to Staples Center. In this period, many dancers were sent back because they couldn’t keep up with the workload. Even when Michael would tell everyone, “Ok now take a break” he would keep on working.
Tarek said that his mind would never stop, even when his advisers would tell him to take a rest, he was always thinking and working. According to Tarek, he was healthy but wasn’t getting enough rest. Tarek said that as far as he could see, he wasn’t unwell as he saw him shirtless and even at that age he had a six pack. LaToya told Tarek that even when he was rehearsing for Moonwalk, he was rehearsing tap dance two hours a day.
One day, Michael came to Hayvenhurst in a fat white man costume, rang the buzzer and asked to come in. The security couldn’t figure out who he was. He said, “I had an appointment” without revealing who he was but he couldn’t hide his Indiana accent when he said “I had an appointment.” And once, in Las Vegas, he went around a department store hiding his face pretending to read a newspaper. Of course the bodyguards were around him but acted normal. He spent $1200 and gave a bundle of money to the cashier saying “This should be enough.” As the cashier was giving change to bodyguards, he asked who that was. By the time the security said it was MJ, Michael was already in the car. The cashier immediately made an announcement saying “MJ was just here” and everyone in the store ran outside to see him. Sometimes, they would push him in a wheelchair in an attempt to disguise who he was.
After our chat with Tarek, he opened the gate of the compound for me and Kenya, the dog that Michael gave to Paris greeted us.
Kenya is a beautiful and friendly dog, so full of love. He ran towards me, jumped on me and hugged me.
This made me incredibly happy. I felt Michael’s soul, full of love. Michael’s friend, a dog that knew him greeted me like this. I padded him, spoke to him, and embraced him. Thanks to Kenya, I felt as if I met Michael and talked to him. And I couldn’t believe my luck.
Tarek told me that Katherine Jackson and Prince come to this house from time to time but for now, they live in Calabasas. Unfortunately, as Katherine Jackson doesn’t want pets in the house, she left Kenya and Paris’ cats in this house with the workers. This upset me. I told Tarek that Kenya must be missing Paris and he said that the cats miss her even more. He said that animals managed to stay in the house before thanks to Michael. I asked Tarek to give our love from Turkey and London to Katherine Jackson, next time he sees her.
I still cannot believe all that happened and my luck. I am so happy. Then, we needed to stop by a drugstore in Encino center. Just thinking that Michael also came to these places, spent time here however little and that I also managed to come makes me the happiest and most grateful person today and for the rest of my life with L.’s contribution!
Then we decided to see Calabasas since so many celebrities of our day live there now but we regretted it tremendously. All houses are in compounds behind security gates. It is like a pensioner’s town. It has nothing special or beautiful.
Very boring. We returned immediately. Everywhere is closed because of Christmas anyway.
For dinner we went to F.’s childhood friend’s house in Santa Clarita. Her brother and sister-in-law were also there. I still cannot believe the day I just had. Did God really give me all these blessings?
26/12/2012, Wednesday, Beverly Hills, CA
Right now, I am very unhappy compared to how I was feeling yesterday. L’s coughing was better, almost gone yesterday. Today, first as we were going around Venice Beach and then Santa Monica Beach and its surroundings, L’s cough became really bad even inside the car, away from the outside cold. F. is also very sick, his throat hurts. With F.’s pushing, we went to the children’s hospital. L’ was diagnosed with bronchiolitis. My dear little baby. They gave L. iburol with a mask. Then F. went to see a doctor.
Actually we had started the day really well. The weather was fantastic, like a sunny spring day. Due to the season, Venice Beach was not crowded at all and there were no summer holidayers, tourist peddlers, salesmen or other charlatans. It was possible to notice the beauty of some of the houses by the beach.
Breathing in the ocean air had done me good. The back streets of Venice Beach reminded me of some Turkish and Greek holiday towns. I would have never guessed I would see such places in America.
Santa Monica Beach is nicer. The houses, hotels and restaurants overlooking the ocean here are quite elegant. In places, it looks like Cornwall in England.
After seeing the horrible places we had seen when we first arrived in LA, knowing that such nice neighborhoods also exist made me happy. Up until my daughter got sick.