Friday the Thirteenth: December 2016

Friday the Thirteenth:

From Narlidere, south of the main part of the city, I get the bus to Konak. It is a mistake, as the bus is much slower than the metro. City traffic. Another bus ride takes me to Alsancak, where I can replenish my supply of French Press coffee from Tshibo. Fresh ground coffee. I can no longer drink the so-called bitter instant shit. I love the aroma of freshly ground coffee.

I walk to a small book store near the Kordon. This is Kabuk. The front part is for relaxing with friends. There is a snack bar with coffee, tea and other drinks. It is an inviting place. There are also tables outside in the open air.

Checking the book shelves, I realize that all the books are in Turkish. But on one shelf are some old classics of Lenin. Also, there are some classics of Karl Marx. There are the three main volumes of Capital and, sure enough, a Turkish translation of Grundrisse. I notice an issue of Monthly Review in Turkish, the socialist journal from New York. Paul Sweezy would be happy to see that. It is possible to educate one’s self in this country, in spite of the stale curriculums of the universities. It just takes time and determination to do it on one’s own.

Well, not so different from the US, I remind myself. If I only knew what I had been assigned to read in the seminars at the University of California, I would truly be lacking in knowledge of the way the world works. Everywhere, one must educate themselves and not rely upon the educational institutions.

It is a Friday the thirteenth, but I am not unlucky in finding this place. It is worth a couple of pictures in black and white.

I order tea and nut-cake. Nice looking young women are flitting around who run the place very elegantly. One of them really catches my fancy. I wonder if I am in the right place. A lovely place to take a rest and relax. I could be lazy and spend the whole day here.

After taking the pictures and drooling over the young women, I head out to the main mall where, thankfully, there is no traffic. One need not fear getting run over here. It is one of the dangers of street photography in Turkish cities. The streets are often quite narrow. Drivers rush up and down them with large vehicles. One must be careful when taking pictures. I try to let the vehicles get out of the way first.

The streets to the east run down toward the Alsancak Gar, the old railway station. These streets are filled with small restaurants and pubs. There are many other shops also. In the cafes, are mostly students, but some there are older.

There are shops selling used books and old magazines. Old issues of French and Turkish magazines from the l940s and 50s. These are interesting. Some shops sell old used records. It is lovely to browse around these old places. One wonders how they could ever sell the vast stock of old books? It is a funcky area and an interesting place to make some photos. Some shops even have old radios and many other items.

I run across an old used bookstore run by a young Turkish guy. This is PIA Bookstore. I tell him that it sounds like Pakistan International Airlines. “I know,” he says, “I look like a Pakistani too, but I am a Turk.”

I talk to a young woman there and tell her that I will donate some of my old books to the store sometime. They offer me tea and I take some pictures. I like to meet people who like to be photographed.

Back on the street. More walking. Further down are more old bars. One is called La Puerta. Another, the Liberta. I make pictures of these places and the old traditional houses with balconies. There are still many such traditional houses in Alsancak. I have to explore these old places another time.

Across the street, I come across a store-front church. They have provided religious literature free for the taking in the open window of the place. I look inside and see that it is set up, sure enough, like a church with rows of seats for an audience. Three people are sitting at a small table having a discussion. There is a small sign above the street with the name and a cross. It seems a rather strange set-up in this part of town. A young woman invites me in, but I decline. I have suffered quite enough from churches in my lifetime. I am not sure if it church services that people really need here.

Near the church, on the same side of the street, I suddenly notice a heavy-set woman sitting on a small balcony on the second floor above the street. She is fat. She looks down across the street at me, just at me, and makes sucking noises with her mouth. I think that she is inviting me upstairs. I wonder if she works in one of the bars down the street. She looks like she would be over the hill for that, but one never knows. I am not tempted. Not in the least. I think it would be nice to take a picture of her, but then think better of it.  Better keep my distance from that, I expect.

I take more pictures in the area on the way back to the Kordon. Late afternoon, it is still sunny. The sun reflects nicely off the water of the harbour.

Being thirsty by now, I slip into Sardunya and have a cold draft beer. It goes down quickly. This area is mostly frequented by young university-age students, but also some old hippie types, somewhat like me. They while away their time here drinking beer and watching the attractive young women.

I love the atmosphere. I am afraid I am becoming one of them.