I came to
Fethiye with 2 phone numbers, one a well known
local writer called Birol Ganioglu who I had
performed my poems with in English and Turkish at
the Kalkan amphitheater. The other was a friendly
charming talkative Turk I had met in a luxury bag
shop in Pera, Istanbul in May 2016 when I had
been invited to a 70th birthday party given by a
prominent UNESCO Archeologist based in Istanbul.
Why not? I said to myself as I loved Ottoman
culture, art and architecture. Come to
Fethiye, my beautiful city said the
stranger! I confessed I had never heard of the
city! He introduced himself and wrote his full
name, WhatsApp and email in my Turkish notebook,
reserved only for Turkish information, emails and
phone numbers. This was my third trip to Istanbul.
The dinner party invitation was the catalyst but
in the end I stayed a month at the splendid
historic Buyuk Londra Hotel, overlooking The
Golden Horn which had become my second home. I am
still in regular contact with the hotel manager
Azimet whose birthday was the same as my dearly
departed late husband Martin.
He mentioned a writer and wrote her name down but
I was not listening. Looking at expensive bespoke
handmade repousee bags was more interesting. I
added a note, however. 42. Nice man. Good
English. Wife expecting their first child and
that he had prayed in mosques and Greek Orthodox
churches for her to fall pregnant. Eureka
she was! He was rushing home for the birth of his
first child. I shut my book and later added more
Istanbul notes, recommendations, places and names.
My book came out again later that year in Kaleici,
Antalya to make more notes for the next couple of
trips in 2017 and then put away for yet another
year - 2018.
Each year I travel to glorious Rhodes Town to
meet my travelling companion, Belgian Willy who
retired to Crete to follow his dream. He wanted
to show me the jewel island Kastellorizo, just
off the Turquoise Coast and a short boat ride to
Kas which used to be part of the Ottoman Empire.
Why not? I looked at the map, Kas, Kalkan and
Fethiye, working up the coast to Dalaman
airport. There was the name Fethiye again! Having
an eidetic memory, I pictured the strangers
entry in my Turkish notebook. Top right at the
beginning of my notebook. I was near the end of
my book, so I photographed the page, not noticing
the name of the British writer.
After performing my poems in English that had
been translated into Turkish, I was proud I had
brought culture to Kalkan. I had been told this
by a British resident. I even decided to self
publish a signed limited edition of 50 Chapbooks
entitled Nazar because I was
fascinated by the dark blue amulet of the ever-watching
Eye against evil, called Nazar in
After nearly a month it was time to move on to
Fethiye for the last leg of the journey. The
Kalkan Kultur Evi (Culture House) were so pleased
with our performance, which they had sponsored
with the blessing of the Governor and Council of
Kas, that they decided to repeat the evening at
the Culture Centre of Fethiye.
Why not? I agreed. Spoken Word in both English
and Turkish which frankly sounded more expressive
in Turkish. The same team but minus the violinist
but instead accompanied by the Saz musician
playing in the background to my poetry.
Birol, the writer, suggested I call a couple of
resident British journalists to get some
publicity about myself, Jilliana the British poet,
into the local press, The Fethiye Times. One was
a journalist and writer called Jane Atakay. I
rang. We met. She drove me to the ghost village
of Kayokoy, abandoned in 1923 in The
Exchange when the displaced Greeks had to
be sent to Turkey and vice versa. She had written
a book on the village and its history and kindly
gave me a signed copy. A tragedy both in Greek
and Turkish history with long lasting
consequences. In the course of conversation, she
told me about an interesting shop in Paspatur
called Unique owned by her friend Cem.
We were not to meet again. The next day I visited
Cems shop with top quality textiles and
gifts all in excellent taste. As I entered the
shop Cem recognised me. Impossible I argued. Must
be Facebook as I had just befriended the shop
Unique. He agreed because he had seen
photos on my newsfeed of my distinct Sultana
Cem told me he was an Alevi which was the largest
Muslim minority in Turkey, 20-25 million. I had
to be educated so we sat down and over a coke, he
told me about the fidelity bond with his wife,
drinking alcohol, as Muslims do not and other
things like not fasting at Ramadan and that
Alevis do not have mosques. He did not want to be
interviewed unfortunately about his religion so I
had to look it up on Wikipedia. Fascinating but
complex in a word!
I got back to my hotel thinking the next morning
I really must call the man I had met in the bag
shop in Pera. I had not opened my notebook that
far back to the beginning of the book. Why would
The next morning I opened my notebook to call him
and saw, in his own handwriting, not only Cems
full name but underneath the name of his friend,
the journalist Jane Atakay!!
Synchronicity in Turkey once more.
on 5.7.18 in a garden tea room on the waterfront
in Fethiye, Turkey.