A better view of the world

How is it that your visit to Ljubljana was not just a tourist stop, but that you made a home here?

It is difficult to live in a homeland that persecutes you simply because you belong to a certain people. We Kurds have always been marked, and they have resorted to violence against us, which I experienced as a small boy. Growing up in Turkey was full of the most difficult trials, especially in the countryside we became well acquainted with what hard and relentless life means. We were not allowed to speak our own language, and at night, settlements, villages, and families were consumed by devastating flames. Fortunately, my parents raised me in harmony, so I maintained hope that an exciting future awaits me. Curiosity drove me abroad, and a friend’s recommendation that I must see the beautiful Slovenian nature was the reason I stopped here. Already on the way from the airport to the capital, it struck me that I had most likely found myself in paradise. The nature, shades, landscape, as if painted by a master of realism.

Soon after, you returned to Istanbul, but the thought of Ljubljana did not give you peace.

Some kind of magnetism was pulling me back to this Alpine green oasis. I am a metallurgical engineer, and the idea of creating something uniquely my own, something that would beautify important moments for others, had been smoldering within me for a long time. Ljubljana promised to be an excellent strategic center for realizing my youthful dreams, as I wanted to introduce my own brand of eco-friendly sunglasses and corrective glasses to the market. Inspiration was abundant at every step. Just one walk through the capital and its surrounding paths, and I would return to my studio brimming with ideas, new impressions, and concepts. I didn’t have influential acquaintances, so I was left to my own ingenuity. Similar to many literary and film successes, I came to Slovenia with a suitcase full of desires, talent, and enthusiasm.

Yes, your story reads like an exciting novel. But surely it wasn’t all that simple.

Not at all. I was still a foreigner who had to prove himself. I could have graduated in knocking on doors and written a manual on how not to give up when no one will open them for you. Some literally slammed them in my face when I found myself in front of their optics with a strawberry selection of the most beautiful fashion glasses. But I did not give up. With even greater zeal, I followed my vision and encouraged myself that to free myself and others from prejudices and to realize childhood dreams in harmony with nature, for which he carved the first frame for glasses out of wood, Kurd Ali Kemal Sossa moved to Ljubljana. His surname and the water lily leaf from the Tivoli pond have become the trademark of the eyewear brand, with which he opens our view to a more beautiful world. TOMAŽ MIHELIČ A more beautiful view of the world will not be disabled by racist remarks. But I am persistent!

Nothing stopped you. Not even the epidemic, the unfamiliar cultural habits, the language, even the food, you got used to it surprisingly quickly. What does Ljubljana and with it Slovenia have that you can’t find elsewhere?

First, I focused on adapting to the new conditions. I respect local customs, which doesn’t mean I should deny my roots. I just had to adjust to a different dynamic, and in doing so, I gained confidence in learning and using Slovenian. Today, I communicate well in it, although most people want to speak English with me. Probably because of the darker shade of my skin, which I don’t consider a problem. Stereotypes need to be overcome, and with a kind approach, you can open even the most locked doors. Relatives in Turkey are fascinated that I stood on my own feet in a completely foreign cultural environment. I tell them that it’s a privilege to live in peace, embraced by forests, rivers, mountains, and friendly people—a great inspiration for the creative mind. Ljubljana is a city that liberates the spirit and body. Here, I don’t feel lost or confined. Everything is within reach, and it’s not every day you can admire snow-capped peaks from the city. When you discover hidden corners and merge with the local vibrations, you understand why they call it ‘Paris in miniature.’

Article linke: Glasilo Ljubljana, februar 2024

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