A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shusaku Hayashi and the Traditional Confectionary Research Company

Looking for Rumi, Finding Shu

Before going to Konya, I did a lot of ruminating on Rumi, or Mewlana as he's known in Turkey. I thought I might find more than his tomb there; I thought I might find a Sufi master to guide me with a word or a gesture before I moved on towards Iskenderun.
While my host in Konya, Huseyin, was indeed a student of Sufism, and while he did give a little insight into Rumi's wisdom, it wasn't Sufism that I discovered in Konya, but another guest of Huseyin's named Shusaku Hayashi, or Shu, as he calls himself.
Shu and I are now hitchhiking together towards our respective immediate goals; Iskenderun for me, where I'll be catching a ferry to Haifa, and Gaziantep for Shu, where he'll be immersed in confectionary research.
One common goal we have is the city of Hatay, where I'll help with other volunteers to aid Syrian refugees, and where Shu will, again, be doing lots of confectionary research.

Every Step is a Step for Confectionary Research

While my aim is peace, there are many places I have gone that are mere waystations to my ultimate destinations of Palestine and Egypt. But for Shu, no matter where he is, confectionary research is the goal.
An example of this is the middle-of-nowhere town of Ereğli, located some 50 or 60 kilometers east of Konya (not to be confused with another town of the same name on the Black Sea). I managed to find a host in Ereğli for the sole purpose of breaking the haul from Konya to Mersin into two parts. Ereğli meant a bed and a shower rather than a tent should we be unable to get a ride all the way to Mersin from Konya; pure logistics. For Shu though, anyplace that he finds himself he's at work for his Traditional Confectionary Research Company. I suspect that if we did end our day wilderness camping someplace, Shu might find the nearest habitation to continue his work.
So in the middle-of-nowhere, dusty town of Ereğli, while I thought about finding a cheap kebab to fill my belly, or took the occasional photo, Shu popped into every sweets shop he came across to investigate the possibility of finding something he hadn't found before in the confectionary world.
He hadn't found much success in dusty Ereğli when our host there, an English teacher named Buğra, suggested he look into Ereğli's confectionary specialty, Köpüklü Helva, which is a white semi-liquid substance that tastes a bit like liquid marshmallows. We went together to a small confectionary shop where the stuff was produced, and I watched as Shu asked questions, took photos, tasted samples and took notes for the better part of an hour. He had hit the jackpot after investigating several other shops and finding what he had already photographed, tasted and took notes on in other parts of Turkey.
As Shu put it, "I can find something new everywhere."

Two Different Approaches to Peacemaking

In the end I did manage to do a little peacemaking in Ereğli. A fight nearly broke out on the street between a motorist and a man on a scooter. A nearby street vendor and I got between the two antagonists, but the man who had been on his scooter was especially determined to whack the offending motorist when I demanded from each of them whether they weren't both Muslims, and therefore brothers (actually, the idea was communicated with sign language and the question "Müslüman?" posed to each of them). They paused, then went their own ways, the angrier of the two muttering under his breath.
In one conversation with Shu, I told him about a time when I was 11 years old that three older kids wanted to beat me up. When they came to the apartments where we lived at the time, in Hawaii, I cowered by the window, pointing them out to my mother. She promptly brought out a tray of chocolate chip cookies and milk to serve them, and they never bothered me again. Shu embraced the idea, and he is now Hayashi Sensei, Master of a non-martial art based on serving pastries and sweets to those who would harm you. The attacker is completely disabled, and quickly becomes your friend.

The Quest, and How it Came About

Shu, who is from Kyoto, had a successful confectionary business going in Tokyo when the disastrous earthquake hit in 2011. Business dropped dramatically as a result of the earthquake and the following after- shocks, so Shu packed up and went to France with the idea of doing research on sweets and pastries there before returning to Japan to re-start his business. But in Mulhouse, after working as a grape picker and in a kitchen for 8 months, he decided his 6-day-per-week schedule left him with little time to do the confectionary reasearch he had wanted to do. Though Shu had never been an avid cyclist, he purchased a touring bike with an ambitious idea; cycle from Paris to Shanghai, researching local sweets along the way. Then, once back in Japan, his plan is to start a new sweets shop featuring sweets and pastries that he discovers on his quest.
Shu's quest has so far taken him from France to Switzerland, Germany, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and now Turkey. In Turkey Shu has been backpacking and hitchhiking rather than cycling, the country too vast and rich in a culture of sweets to pedal through it. His bicycle awaits him in Georgia, where he will continue The Quest through Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. In Japan he will arrive with tales of baklava to enthrall his listeners (and customers).
Shu also writes a newspaper of his own creation, 'The Pastry Times', which can be found online and in print in Japan (circulation: 2000 copies per month). He created the paper while in France; after running out of money in Georgia he used newspaper subscriptions and advertising fees to help fund his journey, along with donations and funding from sponsors. He expects to complete his mission this autumn, launching his new business when back in Japan. Shu has also been contacted by publishers who have seen his newspaper to write a novel.
At 24, Shusaku Hayashi is well on his way.

For more on Shu through Facebook:

No comments:

Post a Comment