12 March, 2010

Antalya - day 1

Thıs ıs goıng to be rocky... i'm ın a webcafe using a Türkçe keyboard. Whıch means that there are 29 letter keys and the peripheral keys are different. Where @ usually ıs you fınd ' , is now ş, and the usual i space ıs occupied by ı. There will be typing errors!

old fıshermen mendıng nets, Antalya harbor
AŞTI seems more like an airport than a bus terminal. By my poor metric estımatıon, the concourse stretches a kilometer or more, lined with büfe stands and booksellers. It ıs a hard sell from one end to the other. Men stand amid the concourse shouting the names of destinations; if you so much as glance toward a büfe stand the (usually early 20s) young man reacts like a fisherman to a bite and begins realing you in with the verbal equivalent of an unbreakable nylon line. Outside an unbroken line of buses inches from the statıon entrance in a long semicırcle out to the highway.

Our bus departs at 23:00. I am traveling with a Finn, a Frenchman, a Chinese student, and two "halfies" from California. (Halfie, i learn in conversation, is a slang term for half-Asian ethnicity.) The night highway is desolate, save for buses and the occasıonal truck. İt's a comfy ride, and i need to sleep. At 3 AM i wake at a bus terminal in Adalya - a.k.a what seems like the middle of nowhere. But ıt seems like 3 in the afternoon: half a dozen buses are parked, and attendants in tall rubber boots wash them with long handled spray-squeegee devices. In the single long buildıng facing us is a sign "fast food" (only fıve hours later do i realize it was in English). It's a crazy dream. Four small boys sit around a table drinking bardak çay, then dash off. Gırls pull toys from a shelf and run to the old cashier asking eagerly, "ne kadar? ne kadar? (how much)" There's a bin full of pillows, 2 TL each. Restrooms are ücretsizdir (free). And as abruptly as we awoke we are again enwombed by road noise.

Turbulence. I awake on a steep descent. Scrubby hills rise on all sides, and a thin crescent of moon - as if plucked from the flag of Türkiye - hangs in predawn blue. It is a long descent; at the bottom o these hills a coastal plain stretches 30 kilometers to Antalya. As the sky bightens, signs of habitation grow more frequent. Soon palms line the median; on the last downhill into the city, there are pines.

From the main bus terminal, an inexpensive city bus takes us to the shore, to Kaleiçi - the old city. Rounding a corner, we gasp. It ıs our first glance of the broad blue swath Türks call Akdeniz: the Medıterranean Sea!!!!!! (Okay, apologies for the excessive use of punctuation, but no quantity of exclamation points quite conveys the feeling of a dream come true.) We disbark at Hadrian's gate and walk a courtyard-lined street to our hostel. The city is yet to awake. Leathern leaves reach over walls, and the scent of orange blossoms fills the narrow way. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of the six-petaled flowers, nestled among the leaves beside ripe fruit. Doves' cooing echoes among the buildings as they forage on the smooth stone.


My friends check in to the hostel and sleep for a few hours, but i slept well enough aboard the bus. Rather than wasting time with thousands of words on thıs tricky keyboard - i will share the pictures from a morning walk as the city awoke around me, and an afternoon on foot along the waterfront. Click on one of the images below for a link to the full album - which will be growing...

surveyıng Hadrian's gate

road construction

and ahhhhhh, the pleasure of a Mediterranean evening breeze.

11 March, 2010

Ulus revisited, and revisited again...

Ulus is the old heart of sprawling Ankara, the linked by the axis of Atatürk Bulvari to the new centers Kızılay and Çankaya. If you want to see how all these line up on a city map...

The statue of Atatürk is hard to miss - but can you find the simitçi?

For LAUD 322, People and Environment, i am working with a partner in a small group of students observing and analyzing life in Ulus - specifically, in the area immediately around the Citadel, centered on Atpazarı square. And i can't get enough of Ulus. It is so much more real than any place else i have been, with the exception of Jamaica Plain in Boston. What do i mean by real? That little things here are big. A child's dreams in the face of poverty have such larger stakes than in a child's dreams in the lap of privilege.

I promise to post more on this particular thread of thought soon - when i have time to compose the morning's observations and summarize my talk with two men who brought me so much closer to daily life in Ulus. But for now there is hurried laundry to do, an old friend chance encountered to meet for dinner - and a bus to Antalya late tonight!

For the moment... as you can see, i am obsessed with simitçi. It is partly the uniqueness and art of carrying things on one's head, partly the challenge of photographing a moving target amid the city's bustle. I wonder what life is like for them, the daily routine, what hopes or dreams they have. How does one become a simitçi? But what drives this photographic quest most of all is that to me, simitçi represent the essence of Ankara life, of life in any place - hard to miss, harder still to capture. This next image is the closest i've gotten. Modern building, mosque, spiral staircase, crazy parking situation, blooming apple tree, street vendors cooking under their umbrella, flag of Turkiye - and simitçi.The only thing missing is the sura, Arabic call to prayer, echoing off the buildings, tinny, and the forty or fifty older men standing on rugs on the sidewalk, bowed toward the noon sun twenty minutes later. It seemed disrespectful to take a casual photograph of that.

near Posta Caddesi