Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Simple Description Then (in light of my last post)

Last night, around midnight, I was walking home from the bus stop down by the sea. You have to go straight up a very steep hill through one of the oldest neighborhoods in Kadıköy, called Yeldeğermeni (The Windmills). The waning moon shone between the buildings, luminous white but blurry from the coal smoke that hung in the air.

The coal stank.

The whole hillside used to be a cemetery in Roman times and I guessed that several feet down the tombs most likely still lay rotting beneath the soil.

I had to pass through an alleyway next to Kadıköy’s only remaining synagogue (This whole neighborhood used to be Jewish according to Delal’s grandfather and the Jewish museum, but now it was mostly Kurdish). The security lights switched on illuminating the yellow walls and the graffitti written there--Say no to the AK Party! Berk hearts Dilara—and the lone tree growing out of the brick walkway made a pool of shadow right in the center. The doors to the court yard are made of steel and always bolted and locked. There’s razor wire around the perimeter and cameras in the alleyway that seem to follow you as you walk, the red light on the lenses like something out of a Terminator movie. There was an old man in a suit with briefcase in hand standing at the other end of the alley (where a cornice has an engraving in Hebrew) being held steady by a woman with long frizzy hair. The man was drunk and bleary eyed and kept shouting ‘I love you! Do you know that? I love you so much!’ as the woman tried to shush him looking anxiously up and down the quiet streets. She kept putting her hand over his mouth, but he’d dart away and shout again ‘I love you! I love you! I love you!’ until she laughed. (I thought of the Aziz Nesin story I translated a while back, the one where the old man goes around the world shouting ‘I love you, Tülsü’ to a woman he’s never met).

A little ways down I stopped and turned around to watch them, but pretended to be looking into a shop window. The window was dark of course, it was midnight, but I found myself staring at a picture of Mohammed Ali in a poster sized photograph shaking hands with a Turkish guy dressed in seventies style clothes. ‘Cassius Clay and Master Ertaş’ it said in sprawling penmanship. This was a martial arts studio—I discovered as I backed up and saw all the Chinese characters on the sign—where master Ertaş taught judo, karate,boxing and Tae Kwon Do. And this meeting with Mr. Ali was his claim to fame. I peered into the window—trophies, karate uniforms, a poster of Bruce Lee. And then my breath fogged the glass.


Stephen Freer said...


Anonymous said...

Dude, this is what I love reading. These experiences.