I can’t seem to accept that I’m back – yesterday was a downward spiral into errands and jet lag – and today well catching up on 982 emails and more errands and very nice missives with Mr. Mesmerizer. Last night dinner with a friend who is having relationship problems, today another friend separated after 8 years, and yet another ended a long distance relationship. All this and the push and pull of friends wanting to catch up and hear about Turkey and well, sigh… I love my dogs and the LaLa and looking forward to looking into those mesmerizing eyes again, but Turkey……..sene ozledem.
Archive for August, 2007
3 hours of sleep and Fatma wakes me and I almost scream because I don’t want to leave – Lotus meets us at the airport and entangles my luggage that I still don’t have yet because she is young and doesn’t understand the rules – 24 hours of traveling later I am asleep in my bed without my dogs, my luggage, and my Fatmalicious and my Ferah and my figs and I get a text at 4AM that says all of Turkey misses you canikom askim – my love, my life.
We wake to pouring down rain and Fatma comes to the window and says, look Rachel, all of Turkey is crying that you are leaving tomorrow. I think of Antalya – of all the beautiful people I have met, of the Russian girls who go to the coast for summer love, of our figs, and of my Ferah, who I want to take home with me. We eat fish and head to Sortie – the first club we went to when I arrived and again the Israelis want to dance and talk and we want to dance and be girls having fun. Ferah says why is it everywhere you go there are men following, and I say because I am not looking for them and they can see we are having fun and want to join in. That my dear is the secret – enjoy yourself and people wll come to you – men and women.
A new wave of guests arrive at the hotel – Turks – the Russians leave. The security guard tells Moustafa glad you are taking these ladies away with a smile when he comes to pick us up in the white BMW – the Turkish music blaring – we have been causing trouble here and there – just fun trouble. We fly back to Istanbul, which I miss more than anything, and first stop is to get our figs. When we wake from a nap, the boys call and say they miss us and they want to come to Istanbul and Fatma laughs and says, no we just got rid of you, and so head out to meet Ferah at a kebob house where a man is a one man show sitting behind a copper trough making kebobs and making us laugh. We head to a new club and tonight it is Israeli night – the international photographer, who takes my camera and takes my photo – he’s there for the Formula racing – he tells us Israel is a small country with big problems – I tell them I am Sepharadic and Emerz says, ah, the black Jews, and I say, indeed.
We sail out of Antalya along the Cleopatra coast – her bath is there, a ruin that you can still see the footprint of under the water – where she bathed, dressed, made up her face – it is so hot, when we are far enough along, we drop anchor and all of us jump in the water that is so silky cool and wonderful. The cook makes us a Turkish breakfast. We eat and then back in the water to play. Then we sail again to another cove. We play in the water like kids. And then the cook makes us lunch of pan fried fish, salads, bread, fruit – all so lovely, we eat and then nap on the front as the captain sails along the coast. We stop near a rock island and the water here is deep deep blue but you can still see all the way to the bottom. An ice cream boat comes by and we buy pistachio ice cream and eat and then swim and swim. We play our Turkish CDs and dance Turkish along the deck. That night we return for a kebob dinner and shopping in the Kemer market. A man tells me that he has seen me in a dream. And then we dance some more. Always, the outdoor disco, the sitting couch with fruit and nuts and Vodka, the VIP treatment. I tell Fatma that she is Fatmalicious and that becomes her name for the rest of the trip.
The Russians have taken over the coastline – they are buying up the hotels and they are coming in droves – inching out the Germans who used to come and used to own. We wonder what the Russian maids think of us covering our painting with Putin’s picture. Gul is elected in Turkey – his wife appears beside him with her birka – a lackluster smile on her mouth. And we swim again in the Mediterranean late in the afternoon after we have slept. At dinner we sit and have fish outside and midway we hear the call to prayer – it is a beautiful, haunting sound and we all stop and listen. And then we hear a story, told just barely above a whisper, that makes us all draw closer into the table:
I was in New York then, dating a Chinese American girl, we had been going out for one month. We were at a party and she drank too much, she was very drunk. So I took her to her apartment and undressed her, and put her in her bed. I was leaving her room and she said, can I ask you a question? And I said, tomorrow, my love, you are drunk and need to sleep, and she said, just one question? She told me about being in Turkey a year earlier with her work people. She said I drank too much like I’ve done tonight and I went to my hotel room and got in bed and was half passed out, half dreaming, half awake and I heard a voice singing. What was he saying? I kept listening and started crying because I never wanted him to stop, it was so beautiful. I prayed he wouldn’t stop.
I thought how my father prayed in this Oriental/Sepharadic melodic way and I will never hear his voice again and it makes me ache to hear him sing again too.
Turkish people talk and talk and talk some more. Ferah tells us about her nephew who stood on a balcony lighting paper airplanes on fire and one sailed into the neigbor’s house and caused $20,000 in damage. We read in the paper about women cheating on their husbands more and more. We leave Ferah’s office and she dances a jig forgetting that the security camera is right there and her husband Ahmed is watching – he comes out and says with a look, “the camera, Ferah” and points up. Then we head to Antalya to meet the boys and more boys and more boys. I say in Turkish – everything will be beautiful – because I have learned to say that so well now. On the plane we read about Putin becoming a gay sex symbol and cut out the picture of him without his shirt. We are picked up by Mustafa and Yusif and driven to Kemer along the blue blue Mediterranean. They bring us to our hotel and they are next door at another. Hersheye choke guzel olijack. We change to our bikinis and head to the water where men surround us in banana hammocks and I float in the cool, delicious water with that same smile that hasn’t left my face. Later we dance and dance Turkish style with these beautiful men, and come back to our hotel at 3AM to meet the German Turks – the young Turks – with Yucel who wants so badly for me to walk hand and hand with him on the beach – to talk he says – and the stars are thick in the dark sky and before the sun comes up, another day is overflowing with wonder.
We sleep late having come home at 5AM and eaten figs as we stared at the lights on the Bosporous. We head to the water for breakfast, again we are having our Turkish feast of cheese, honey, olives, bread, eggs, cay, and I order Love #9 juice and we see on the table a design of fish, and the bill is brought in a box with a butterfly, and we are by the water which I can reach and touch with my toes, and I think the coffee saw this day. We head to shop in the grand bazaar and buy trinkets. And then we go to meet Ferah, who by now I have fallen completely in love with even though she speaks 2 words of English and I speak only 10 of Turkish. But she is my canikom, my askim, and I tell her this – I say each day sine ozledem canikom, askim – which is I miss you my love, my life. We head to have our hair done and enter Ferah’s salon and are seated three across to have our hair washed, and the three Turkish, handsome men seat us three across and brush our long hair and style it. We are transformed and leave to go to dinner. Walking out, I turn to my beautiful girls and says “I’m so happy I’m a woman.” Fatma reads my coffee this night she says there is a bump in my heart and two men are talking about me, and two women are talking about me, and I have two projects, one a good one and one maybe not completed right away. We go home to change clothes for dancing and stop by the neighbor’s – Suela – who is the real reader – she takes her time making my coffee and talks – and talks – and then she reads – you have let your worries go, but they will return, you will meet a man with a Z inside his name, he will bring happiness, and in seven something – seven days, seven weeks, seven months, not sure how long but in seven, you will get beautiful news and someone will give you a key and you will be kissing him with joy, and there is a wild animal and it means good, it means you will make your projects, the two that you have on your mind, happen, they will turn out good. But there is a man, with thinner hair, long face, who you have trouble with, not bad, not good, just trouble. We head to the club in our high heels and dresses and there is a wedding with a pregnant bride, a bride on stilts, transvestites roam the crowd and the drummers pound a show on stage with smoke and fire – this is Istanbul. And we are introducing Cosmopolitans to Turkey – one bar at a time.
Walked along the Bosporous and climbed stairs to have breakfast overlooking the water – a Turkish breakfast of feta, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs, bread, cay and honey. We go meet Ferah and her son and have kebobs later in the evening – her son is headed to Columbia University in a few weeks, he reads my coffee and says there are butterflies, which mean free, there is a fish, which is a good thing, there are three people talking about me, a moon, a river, and a man, he calls him moon man because he lays under the moon and makes me smile. Fatma takes the saucer and reads the remains – she says your heart is as big as a globe but there are no roads in. I agree – I tell her I’m blocked. The son leaves and we three go dancing at Sortie on the Bosporous – the belly dancers are achingly beautiful young nymphs who sway and move to Oriental music – then we go dance and I ask Ferah how to dance Turkish and she says, picture in your mind, Rachel, a man you want to seduce, and dance for him. And so I picture this man whose lap I am sitting in, whose shirt I’ve just unbuttoned, his fleur de lys danging from a leather necklace, and dance. Ferah comes to me – good Rachel, it took ten minutes for you to be Turkish. And then the French men come. Tonight, day 2, it is the French men who seek us out in this international scene.
Flew with Fatma and Beste on Turkish Airlines and arrived to be whisked to Fatma’s father’s apartment on the Bosporous, dropped our bags, and on to the salon where young gorgeous Turkish men styled my hair and rubbed my feet – I looked at Fatma – a big big smile on my face that never left. Back to meet Fatma’s neighbors for many years, the daughter is in love with Fatma, says she wishes she was a man so she could marry her. Meanwhile, the President is about to be elected – the religious Gul – and suddenly all talk is about women wearing birkas. Fatma’s Bubba – her dad – tells me – Yes, it’s no good, but Turkey only hurts Turkey, while Bush hurts the world. I hear interspersed a call to pray in the city that is no more exotic than my father’s voice as these chants are so close to the Sepharadic, it hurts from its familiarity. Then we sit on the Bosporous in a restaurant having cocktails and later drink our Cay and buy figs as big as baseballs. In the evening, we meet friends at an outdoor restaurant – one tells me “what would you do Rachel in my situation?” and I say, “I was in your situation, but I’m not sure it is the right thing.” She says, “Women give and give and men take and take. Then decades go by and women change and men don’t.”