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Snapshots #5
by Jilliana Ranicar-Breese

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 stranger’s 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 Turkish.

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 Cem’s 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 Style.

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 I?

The next morning I opened my notebook to call him and saw, in his own handwriting, not only Cem’s full name but underneath the name of his friend, the journalist Jane Atakay!!

Synchronicity in Turkey once more.


Written on 5.7.18 in a garden tea room on the waterfront in Fethiye, Turkey.