The Iranian Bazaar in Dogubeyazit:
In Dogubeyazit, the Iranian bazaar had a lot of things for sale, but unfortunately not much that I wanted. There were lots of the smuggled glass with the silver design in it. People take it to Ankara and sell it for more. There is fruit-flavored tobacco for a nargili or hookah. Several different flavors, like banana and apple. There were many wood carvings from Pakistan or India. Some from Rajasthan. Wooden elephants, that kind of thing, and incense. Ceylon tea. Many wall-hangings with Farsi or Arabic verses from the Koran. Little saucers and nargili, and coffee cups. The only thing we bought was smuggled liquor. I am not sure the mechanism there. All that smuggled booze from an Islamic country like Iran. Maybe there is a massive amount going into Iran.
I can hear the shops closing outside. Shutters down. Here are some statistics. The population is nearly 49,000 in Dogubeyazit. But the guide book says 36,000. So the population is increasing.
The altitude of the town is 1950 meters. Mount Ararat peak is 5137 meters, an enormous volcano topped with ice. There is much volcanic rock around the area. The small right-hand peak, Kucuk Agri (little Agri), is 3895 meters.
Besides the mountain, the main thing to see here is Ishak Pasa Sarayi (1685-1784). It took one hundred years to build. Completed by the pasa’s son, a Kurdish Chieftain, named Ishak (Isaac). The architecture is a combination of Seljuk, Ottoman, Georgian, Persian, and Armenian styles. A bit of everything thrown in.
The gold-plated doors that were on this palace are in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. They were stolen by the Russians. There is also a fortress and Mosque nearby. The foundations of the fortress are thought to go back to Urartian times, from the 13th to the 7th Centuries BC. The walls, being rebuilt by whoever controlled this mountain pass. That is some thirty-three centuries, if correct. So this generation is just a bubble in the stream of time. The mosque seems to be 16th Century Ottoman, Sultan Selim I (1512-20)
The Battle of Caldiran. In 1514, Selim defeated the Persians. Eastern Anatolia was added to the Ottoman Empire. This is seventy kilometers south of Dogubeyazit where the battle took place.
Many things here are named “Hani”. It is from Ahmedi Hani. He was a popular Kurdish writer. There is an eighteenth century tomb containing his grave. Eski Beyazit (old Beyazit) goes back to 800 BC, Urartian times. The new town here was founded only in l937, after the villagers moved from the hills.
Morning. Dogubeyazit is about 6500 feet in elevation. The grubby road out in front of the hotel comes to life pretty early. I heard the shutters of shops coming up before seven. One gets only a couple of TV stations, GAP and TGRT (Turkish state television). That seems to be it, without a dish. The shops are grubby, but there are some nicer ones. It is mainly a small town. Reminds one of North India out in the streets.
Specialties of this part of the country? What is big here? The bathroom in the hotel room should be elevated up to one foot higher than the floor of the room. (More gravity helps, I guess!) Oval mirrors are big, it seems. I keep seeing them everywhere in this town.
The street out in front shows the life of the town. An old peasant came down the street with his eight sheep. Some of them are brown. He had his two children with him helping to drive his sheep down the street. Sometimes they were in the middle of the road and the sheep wouldn’t move. The old guy was pushing them from behind to get them to go. It was not very easy. It looked very primitive, but this is a rural town. People tend to be quite poor.
The political Party here is Hadep, that has the local municipality. It is a Kurdish Party, of course. The security court is trying to close it. There is a case against it. A very counterproductive policy. But that’s the way the statist dinosaurs think.
We met the owner of the hotel down at breakfast and his son. It turns out that his son is studying in Near Eastern University in Cyprus in Lefkosa in international relations. In his class, they are using my book, People and Power. He used it for two semesters. He said, and got “A”s in both classes. He said it was a very useful book, the only one he could understand. I am going to take his information from him. He wants to come and study in Ankara and he says he has good grades. I think it is surely possible. I don’t see any reason why he cannot, if he can transfer his scholarship. His name is Tekun.
We were going to pay the hotel bill, but they only took ten million from us after they found out who I was.
There were no signs of any security problems, except for occasional road checks on the roads in Eastern Anatolia. (2002)