2007
Sep 5

Istanbul take III, Bella, Pera Museum, Siya Siyabend

Sep 5, 2007 00:00////

On Friday afternoon after the class I headed straight to Bella’s shop at Şişli Bella is known for her high-end dance costumes and for this reason bargaining there is futile. Credit cards are also useless in her shop, because she accepts only cash! For 3 days in a row I was traveling around Istanbul with a ridiculous amount of cash and I was very relieved to off-load the money and finally get my costumes, that are by the way fitted perfectly adding a 3D effect to my shiny-rosy self. Happy and giddy I unloaded the costumes at the hostel and headed straight to Pera Museum for the Pirosmani exhibition. I must confess that normally I hate museums, in most cases finding myself wandering around with no clear purpose and a rather obvious lack of joy, but this one really got to me. It’s small – only 5 floors with 2 halls on each floor. The top floor featured the works of students of Yıldız Technical University Faculty of Art and Design which I didn’t dig at all. The fourth had the most amazing collection of Pirosmani’s paintings crowned with my favorite “Bear in the Moon Light”. Next is a very pleasant surprise at the third floor: “Portraits from the Empire” exhibition, a selection of works portraying the Ottoman world from the 18th to 20th century. I was very pleased with the notes they had on Westerners’ harem portrayals and on the daily life of Ottoman women. Some of the portraits were very inspirational since I’ve been planning for a while to sew a new costume with Şalvar and a Turkish coat. Then a very interesting exhibition of the prints, drawings and watercolors from the Diocese Museum Otto Mauer Collection. Picasso, Chagall and many great Austrian artists whose names I’ve never heard of before due to my unfortunate ignorance in this field. For the dessert I popped into the Anatolian Weights and Measures exhibition. I’m a sucker for balances and weights in all sizes and this neat exhibition manages to satisfy my obsession. Across the hall there were beautiful Kütahya tiles and ceramics. All in all an hour and a half* and 3 YTL** well spent. * That’s how tiny this place is, or maybe it’s me lacking solidity ** 3 YTL for students and 7 for other mortals

p.s. On my way back I decided to go through Istiklal Caddessi and just as I turn onto it I hear a deep smoky voice shouting “Siya SiyaBend CDs, Siya SiyaBend CDs, only 20 Turkish lira”. That was no else than Murat Bızon, Siya Siyabend soloist. We chatted a little and I scraped my pockets for my last 11 lira of the day.

And off I go to Sulukule.

2007
Sep 5

Istanbul, Take II, Eyüp and Unkapani

Sep 5, 2007 00:00////

After the class with Reyhan I decided to go to Pierreloti, a cute oasis in the residential neighborhood of Eyüp. It is named after a French writer Pierre Loti who had special affection for Istanbul coffee houses. Since I took a bus from G.O.Paşa I couldn’t find the Teleferik (a cable car) so I climbed to the top of the hill and was rewarded with the most beautiful view of the Golden Horn and a portion of manti. I lingered at the restaurant for about an hour giving my sore feet a good rest. Taking the teleferik down didn’t feel as stupid as I expected it to be thanks to the view.

After Eyüp I headed to Unkapani, an industrial zone that hosts a whole building full of music distributors who sell CDs and DVDs in wholesale prices. I stopped at 5 with no luck for Ahırkapı Büyük Roman Orkestrası (but no fear, I got later this week on Istiklal!!!).

2007
Sep 5

Istanbul, take I, Reyhan

Reyhan and GülizarMy day starts with a class with Reyhan Tuzsus. Reyhan and one of her daughters meet me at the Gaziosmanpaşa Kültür Merkezi square. Lovingly yet firmly Reyhan grabs my arm and leads me through the noisy streets untill we reach the outskirts of the neighborhood. Following her into a narrow passage we descend into the mahalle. The slums go all the way down the steep hill and up on the other side of the valley. Thousands of houses marked with poverty and decay. Garbage and rubble everywhere.

Outside their house Hüsnü, Reyhan’s husband, greets me. He remembers me from the boat trip on the Bosforus, when I asked his band to play “Ağam”. Inside the tiny house Reyhan orders me to relax. She brings me water and we chat for a while. Then she grabs the old stereo and takes me to the “studio” – a small room with uneven floor covered with carpets. She hands me a scarf and teaches me how to tie it around the hips her way. Then we start dancing. It’s a pity Reyhan doesn’t allow to videotape her, because I wish everyone could see how she dances. How much feeling she expresses, how she’s attuned to the music, how she constantly changes the steps and the gestures. How playful she gets sometimes, and other times how she forgets of my presence and looks inwards.

After an hour I get tired. We come back to the first room and Reyhan insists that I share a meal with her. She leaves the room and swiftly comes back with a tray full of food: delicious flat bread with ground meat, salty cheese, ham, olives and cherry juice. We chat a bit, I show her and Hüsnü the videos from our show night at the Erboy Hotel, and then it’s time to leave.

Both Hüsnü and Reyhan take me back to the bus station. The procedure is the same: Reyhan would not let go of my arm until we reach the bus stop. We hug and kiss each other and then I’m off to the other world across the bridge.


Hüsnü with the band playing for the Alaturka Festival participants