Sunday, June 20, 2010

Goodbye Tarsus

We're leaving Tarsus and moving to Istanbul. Four years ago, when I was new in Turkey and frustrated by how provincial Adana was, I would have given anything to have my husband announce we were relocating west; I dreamed of life in Istanbul, Izmir or Ankara, and traveled there whenever I could for a dose of cosmopolitanism.

But something happened over the past four years, and not only do I now appreciate Adana for its lack of traffic, its lovely climate (at least for the nine non-summer months of the year), its reasonable cost of living, and its safety, but I've fallen in love with Tarsus.

And so instead of tackling the logistics of packing and transporting our belongings, deciding what essentials we'll need for the month we spend "homeless" this summer, and finding a new nanny, I've been indulging in pre-departure nostalgia. Our Sunday morning walks have become pilgrimages, as we revisit our favourite parts of Tarsus. We inevitably discover new places, and are briefly consumed by the irony of not having known a place sooner.

I've also started bringing my camera with us on these walks, trying to capture what I know we can't take with us. Surprisingly few of my photos, however, are of typical Tarsus scenes, such as the mini lahmacun famous here.
Instead, I've found myself capturing Tarsus's quirks, such as this rooster tied to a sign post in the middle of the sidewalk;
or the way the city's once-beautiful architecture has been ruined by misguided attempts at renovation, such as this 'modern' second storey addition to a historical building:

I found this remnant of a balcony with its two well-tended flower pots absolutely lovely:

I've also become obsessed with buying unusual Tarsus 'souvenirs.' The first thing I bought was an old oxen's yoke I had seen hanging on the wall of a local carpenter's shop. I'd seen it months earlier and thought it would be an interesting feature in a home, but months passed and I didn't go back and buy it. But as soon as I found out we'd be moving to Istanbul, I decided I couldn't leave Tarsus without buying the yoke.

And then there is the cauldron. Like the yoke, the cauldron spent some time on my 'to-buy-one-day' list. I first came across the little corner shop with the polite older Armenian gentleman selling all things metal a few years ago, and immediately saw the artistry in the cauldrons he had lined up outside. But once again, it wasn't until I realized I might lose the chance to buy one, that I was overcome with anxiety and just knew I had to have one. Closed on Sundays and only open until 7pm on Saturdays, though, weeks passed between my decision to buy one and actually making it to the store with my husband, whom I always take along to do the bargaining.

We finally made it one Saturday afternoon. My husband chatted with the proprietor while I considered which kazan to buy, settling on a handmade copper-coloured one with excellent craftsmanship and a thick grade of copper. Unfortunately, it was also large, much larger than either of us had originally envisioned. But I stubbornly refused to settle for any other, more reasonably-sized cauldron, since they weren't as beautiful.
And now it's time to start packing.

1 comment:

  1. I just read this post - loved it! It made me feel melancholy about Tarsus for you. And I also think it's funny that you're coping with this by buying ENORMOUS Turkish village items.