August 14, 2002

Turkey (day 1)

August 6, 2002

In Ortahisar this evening - a slight breeze moves the curtains, rain is falling lightly on the stone outside, as we sit on the kilim-covered benches against the wall, sipping neat scotch and marveling at our good fortune and the series of mutual leaps of faith that brought us here. Tip your head back and look up at the barrel-vaulted ceiling with its wide whitewashed ribs. Inhale distant wood smoke, rain, and the rough lanolin woolen smell of the kilims. And then - it's almost nine-thirty - comes the call to worship, echoing off the rock walls, echoed from other mosques at a distance, rising and falling. We are here. We could be no place else.

It is a story of leaps of faith. I had enough faith to send Barbara an email out of the blue, offering to help with the kilim e-commerce project. Barbara had faith in me and invited me to come and stay in her house. Mom had faith in me and decided to come along. I had faith in the notion that it wasn't entirely crazy to set off one third of the way around the world after some email and a couple of phone conversations, not speaking the language, not having met anyone in person, not knowing exactly where we were going. And here we are. In the middle of a fairy tale.

The minibus from the Kayseri airport dropped us off in front of Crazy Ali's antique store. Crazy Ali came out to meet us, introducing himself and offering tea. When he found out that we knew Barbara and were expecting to meet Hatice, someone at the information office next door phoned her for us, and we sat on office chairs reupholstered with kilim scraps, drank tea as Crazy Ali recited one of his poems, in English, about trust and love and world understanding. Then Hatice, Sultan, and Sultan's husband Baris turned up, we greeted each other as old and new friends, and they had some tea and then walked us through an archway and down an old brick-paved road to Barbara's house.

I'll have to describe the house in the morning - it is an extraordinarily beautiful place, with small vaulted rooms around a central whitewashed stone courtyard. Arches and alcoves and different steps up or down. Turquoise blue wooden doors and window frames. A front gate that opens with a big key. Spectacular kilims everywhere, of course. Wooden trunks and handmade tables. A dog's leash hanging on a nail by the door. But I mustn't make it sound too fancy - above all, it feels comfortable and homelike, a place to sit and think and do your work and then when you are done working a place to welcome family and friends.

Tomorrow we'll have breakfast with Hatice and the kilim women come to weave at nine, so I imagine we'll meet them.

Posted by EGP at August 14, 2002 2:37 PM

Oh, Liz, It's perfect. I am transported back. Can't wait for the next day to arrive. Love Mom

Posted by: SHP at August 15, 2002 6:29 AM