Tag Archives: friends!

Témoris in 1978?

This is how my friend Burak Sariaslan, from Istanbul, thinks I’d look if we were in 1978… generous!

And this is us in 2010, a night of May on Istiklal caddesi:

Şenay Şaşko is the beauty, and the beasts from left to right are: Çağatay Sönmez, Burak Sariaslan, me and Agah Özberk

My best looks, defo!

Friends of my heart

I got four of the most lovely people in this world, Isik (Istanbul), Odelia, Yael and Dani (Tel Aviv) to meet each other over raki and beers. None of us is religious but, by inheritance, we were a Muslim, three Jews and a Christian. I felt blessed by having them around me. Then a sad thought crossed my mind: when, where could we ever meet again like in this occasion? Small world, gigantic world.

Istanbul farewell

It was an amazing farewell and birthyear party last night, here in Istanbul! Attending were lovely people representing many nations: Türkiye, Israel, Deutschland, Italia, Colombia, USA, Slovenija, Argentina, France, UK, Schweiz… Am I missing someone? Suriya couldn’t come :-( And, of course, México. Next party on Saturday in Barcelona, and this time is my birthday and book launch!

Vanessa with the Dalai Lama

My dear friend Vanessa Able is doing an amazing road trip around India, on the world’s smallest car, Tata’s Nano. Her Nano Diaries are amusing, informative, greatly-written pieces of travel literature. She just happened to stumble upon a very important Dalai Lama’s ceremony in Dharamsala, I suggest you to follow this link and read the whole story, it’s very well written and amusing. And this is a comment I left to her: 

Religion is religion, but there a nicer religions than others. Buddhism has many things I like. A very important one is what you wrote: “in true sanguine Tibetan style the event was given a most positive spin”. Wow… Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Jews, Shiites, Sunnis, Hindus… it appears to me that their priests, monks, nuns, pastors, rabbis, mullahs and imams tend to put the stress in any really really sad thing for which the faithful should feel regret or remorse or victimhood or unfairness… which a religious group (in-exile and under-domination) as the Buddhist Lamaists could easily do as well. But they choose differently. I feel a lot of sympathy for that.

When I was four or so…

Where is Témoris?

This is a quite recent pic with my cousins from Hermosillo, Sonora, in Northwestern Mexico. The bigger ones are Manuel and Claudia, and the smaller ones, Carlos and Heidi.

And if you follow this link, you’ll see my brother Coizta’s mock edition of my earliest incursion into acting, “El chiquillo del campo”, with my dad sporting a sombrero and saying “Ah, Chihuahua!” at the end (though you must log into Facebook to see it).

Istanbul’s Spring Festival

The Hıdrellez Festival is an ancient Turkish tradition, celebrating the arrival of Spring. Weather wasn’t so spring-like, but the Türks flowed by the tens of thousands to Ahırkapı park, on the Marmara Sea shore, in Sultanahmet (the 3,000 year-old part of Istanbul).

You can find the whole photo album here..

Since the Roma people (aka gypsies, gitanos, ziingari) came here, 600 years ago, they gave the festival their own tone: Roma music bands have the leading part and many Türks come dressed somehow gypsy-like.

Foto: Témoris Grecko

Although it’s now a municipality-organised event, I loved that it keeps a dynamic that has a kind of spontaneous feeling. There is a big stage, of course, where the main acts take place when the evening has arrived. But the must fun part is before that, in the late afternoon: there are lots of small stages scattered around the park and a music band on top of each, playing for the dancing crowd. The musicians suddenly get down of the stage and start wandering around with their darbukas and clarinets leading the people, until they find an empty stage elsewhere to climb and play from.

Foto: Témoris Grecko

Foto: Témoris Grecko

Foto: Témoris Grecko

There is a sad part of all of it, and this is when you can stop reading if you like. I’m adding some photos at the end to illustrate it, you could skip them too.

The Roma people, the gypsies, are among the most vulnerable groups in many countries, here too. And as many other cities, Istanbul is subject to a predatory gentrification process, in which real-estate speculators and local officials use the pretext of modernisation to evict poor people from their neighbourhoods in order to bulldoze them and build apparment blocks and malls.

Last time I was here, in october 2009, I went to Sulukule, an ancient Roma settlement, famous for its gypsy atmosphere, for the dancing and the emotion now we have to look for at yearly festivals. It was completely destroyed. Some of its old inhabitants were still there, clinging hopelessly to a vanishing happy place.

Foto: Témoris Grecko

My reportage on Sulukule, in Spanish, was published in Esquire, you can find it here http://issuu.com/temoris/docs/estambul/7?mode=a_p

A happy workers’ day in Istanbul

On 1st of May, 1977, the police cracked down on the demonstration and killed 34 workers. Every year since then, this anniversary was marked by clashes and violence. But we didn’t smell tear-gas this time, no one splashed us from water cannons and we didn’t have to run chased by anti-riots. The government announced that the march would be allowed. And the people came from all over the place, crowding central Taksim square. TV showed amazing footage of huge columns crossing the bridge over the Bosphorus strait, from Asia to Europe. The mood was really festive. Hundreds of thousands of Istanbular came singing to hear the speeches, dance and laugh.

You can view the whole album here.

Foto: Témoris Grecko

Foto: Témoris Grecko

I was with my very dear friend Işık, a Turkish political scientist. We met back in 2004 when she was doing academic research in Mexico.

Isik Özel. Foto: Témoris Grecko

Not much here of a workers' leader, I think... I look more like Buzz Lightyear: "To the inifnity and beyond!" Foto: Isik Özel

The day was beautiful, lovely sunny day. And so, with my friends Burak, Jan, Felix, Anna, Marianna and others, we went down to Tophane park, a terraced garden with a wonderful view over the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.

Tophane park: the Nusretiye mosque in the middle, the Bosphorus on the left, the Golden Horn on the right. Foto: Témoris Grecko

In the background, behind the Golden Horn, Ayasofia, or Saint Sophia, left. And the Blue Mosque, on the right. Foto: Témoris Grecko

Then we met our friends Oya and Huseyin for beers in Tünel, to finish the day hanging out in Cihangir. A truly happy day.