Monday, 13 January 2014
A Second Look
These three derelict buildings stand at the entrance to our village. They've been in this sorry state since way before we bought our land in 1990. With the exception of recent graffiti by love-lorn adolescents, they have been left to their own devices. Over the past 23 years, I have occasionally wondered who owned them and why they haven't been restored but my interest wasn't sufficiently piqued to investigate. Until now that is. The main benefit of giving up the day job two years ago was time. Time to read, time to walk, time to cook, time to do nothing and time to chat with our neighbours. A chance conversation filled in the history of these ruins and now, as I drive past, I fancy I see the ghosts of a completely different era. The building on the left was a mosque and the other two were teahouses. The main road from Izmir to Bodrum ran right in front and, although I can't imagine there was that much traffic in the 1950s and 60s, the teahouse customers would have had a ringside seat. Historians and hippies alike would have passed by and probably broken their arduous journey at one of the cafes. In the daytime, the tea houses were the quiet domain of the fathers and grandfathers but in the evening, the village delikanlı (literally crazy-blood young men) would take over the cafe with music and alcohol and party under the watchful eye of the large bald proprietor, sufficiently far away from the village houses that their parents were either unaware or prepared to turn a blind eye. Serving alcohol in close proximity to a mosque has long been illegal in Turkey so this brazen flouting of the law added spice to the night's entertainment. The nearest military police station was 6 kms way in Mumcular and luckily for the miscreants, the law drove around in a very noisy jeep. At the sound of gendarmes approach, the lads would bolt for home, running across the fields rather than along the road, to discourage any keen soldiers from the chase. When the new coastal road was opened, these buildings were abandoned and are now waiting to fall down, but there are still elders in the village who remember, with a glint in their eye, when they were capable of running across a stoney field after a drink or two.