Archive for the 'Turkey' Category

Turkey, and old friends

My family and I had 10 days in Hisarönü, near Fethiye where I used to live in the early 90s. The resort itself was as I remembered it: a depressing mass of restaurants offering “full English breakfasts with real pork sausage!” but the hotel had a swimming pool, the mountains gave some cooling breeze, and it was easy to get to Fethiye, Ölüdeniz or the melancholy beauty of the deserted Greek village, Kayaköy.

I tracked down my old friend Asiye, who taught me lots of Turkish in 1993, and who I hadn’t seen since the year 2000 when we bumped into each other, utterly by chance, in the street in Bangkok. (Her Fethiye clothing shop, Şaman, has the strapline “there are no coincidences”.)

I think we can safely say that in 17 years neither Asiye nor I have changed one jot. Then:

Asiye and me, on the beach at night, Fethiye, Turkey 1994


Asiye, Şaman shop, Paspatur, Fethiye

And I’m delighted that there was no reason for my earlier holiday trepidation.

Holiday trepidation

It’s with some trepidation that I look forward to my holiday soon.

There’s the usual worry of booking a package tour—will the hotel be as nice as it seemed on the Web? will the transfer taxi be there? (Actually, I only imagine these are the “usual” worries; we’ve never done a package before).

But I have an extra worry. The last time I visited this town was in 1993 -1995 when I lived there, working as a musician and tarot card reader, and I left because I was run out of town.

The story goes like this.

Opposite the bar that I was working in was a small area where three female students would spread out a cloth on the floor which they covered with hippie jewellry that they’d made in the hope of selling it to tourists. During the quiet parts of the day I’d hang with them, and we’d smoke cigarettes and improve our command of each others’ languages. As occasionally happened when I was young and slim, one of the girls and I became especially friendly.

Towards the end of the season, I was playing my guitar in the bar, and an well-dressed gentleman in his early 40s came and stood by my stool as I took off my guitar for my smoke-beer-pee break. This often happened; people came up to request favourite songs for the the next set. He waited while I carefully put the plectrum under the corner of the scratchplate and put the guitar securely on its stand. And then he punched me in the face.

As I regained verticality, I asked him why he’d done that. “For sleeping with my wife”, he replied. I assured him that he was mistaken, and pointed out my girlfriend who was looking horrified and backing towards the door rather than racing forward to cradle me in her arms. “Yes, he replied. That’s my wife.”

Ignorance is no defence and although true, objecting that that she had neglected to inform me of her nuptial status was unlikely to mollify him. But he didn’t come back with a follow-up punch but instead walked out of the bar, leaving two of his friends behind who very politely informed me that the usual penalty for wronging someone’s honour in such a way is to stab them in the buttocks. The reason is that there are no major blood vessels there, so the victim is very unlikely to die. However, it’s the largest muscle in the body so would take months to heal and lying down, sitting or walking would be agony. It was emphasised that if I were to remain in town more than one night, this might very well happen to me.

I left the next morning for Istanbul.

Seventeen years later, I suspect that none of the protagonists still live there. And I suspect that the years have suitably transformed me from the slim, bronzed beach bum that I was then into an unrecognizable and expanded figure.

But if I’m back early, after begging for a standby ticket at the airport, you’ll know why.