Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Street life in Kadiköy

Back to safer and more readable territory, even though I was forced into some work-related written material already today, so I don’t feel quite the usual pent-up necessity of discharging my loaded gun onto this page.

Now that I’ve established my domicile in Kadikoy on Sokak Izzetin (not Sokak Yoğurtçu as mistakenly reported in an earlier post – that was the address of the school rather than my apartment), let’s set the scene of the neighbourhood. The street was a narrow and dusty cobbled affair patrolled constantly by gangs of youths acting as the morals police or playing football. Beşiktaş, I believe, was the team favoured by the locals, although these days it’s Fenerbahçe or Galatasaray that are the more fancied and prosperous teams. The picture here depicts my street with the Beşiktaş flag hung out to mark the territory. My apartment was on the second-to-top floor on the left-hand side right beside the flag.
My boulangerie was just three blocks away from where I would line up with all my neighbours in anticipation of two or three loaves of ekmek at 1,500 lire each. Bloody nice with a big dollop of strawberry reçel, too. (Ah, my expansive 20-word Turkish vocabulary is coming back to me already). And the corner diary was literally on the corner where I would nip in daily to order “alti biere, lutfen”, as opposed to the easier but ultimately less thirst-quenching “bir biere, lutfen”, which would have had me returning another five times, as well as “yarim” kilo of pistachio nuts or grapes (everything I got was in half-kilo quantities). The beer was a wee bit pricey for me at 5,000TL each, but I got 2,000TL back on each empty, so each two-and-a-half bottles quaffed was another one waiting in the wings. Diminishing returns indeed, but it all made perfect sense to keep drinking more as you lure yourself into an intoxicated haze while parked on a sunny balcony and accompanied to the tune of the imam yodelling the call to prayer.

The front windows received little sun, but had the advantage of being closer to the neighbours for anthropological study purposes. Unfortunately, the Turkish gaster arbiter from Kreuzberg had failed to import the more charming drapery habits of their German hosts, i.e. make your apartment a curtain-free zone, and so we were not permitted untrammelled observation rights into the neighbouring living rooms. The neighbours directly opposite us, however, nevertheless felt our hawk-like gaze burning into the backs of their necks and soles of their feet (to reveal the undersides of one’s feet is apparently a great social faux pas), and so they had no choice but to pin up a black shroud around their balcony to keep the foreigners’ evil eyes off their daughter. Here is a photo of the shroud going up with the aforementioned daughter lingering behind the lace curtains:

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