Saturday, 9 August 2008

Tom Tom neighbourhood

Tom Tom is the name of the Beyoglu neighbourhood I live in, a vibrant district housing a mixture of Turks, Kurds, gypsies and wstern European foreigners like me. Snuck round the back of Istiklal down a steep hill it is a winding curving twisting set of cobbled streets virtually traffic free and full of scampering kids. Everybody knows everybody as they all seem to be relatives from the same area of origin, in this case from Bitlis in the east of Turkey, and it feels really comfortable walking down the street day in day out and seeing the same faces and smiles. Its charm for me is its noisy street life, especially the open-back trucks that come round selling fruit 'n' veg at cut-down prices. I kept meaning to buy a basket to which I could tie a rope so that I can lower it down and bellow out my order to these hawkers but somehow I haven't gotten round to it. Anyway, often you end up with the smallest melon on the truck so in hindsight it's probably better to be able to dash down the four flights of stairs to choose your own (and good exercise too of course).

These hawkers all have their own unique call which one can't really understand but I guess the idea is that it attracts your attention to look out the window to see what's going on. (I'm curious to know where they practised their own personal sound before setting off round the streets, they're an endless variety of wailing guttural calls with a twang along the way, unique to each person. I'm sure they could make the basis to an interesting research project for someone interested in linguistics.) Off the top of my head I can think of these different street-sellers who appear on an-almost daily basis: sebzeci (veg seller), pogaci (pastries), misirci (corn on the cob), simitci (sesame pastry rings), hurdaci (rag 'n' bone), terlikci (slippers). In Turkish the 'ci' at the end of each of the words turns the base noun into a profession, for example fotograf (photograph) into fotografci (photographer, i.e. moi!)

Take a look at the attached link for a glimpse of Tom Tom life and other photos of Istanbul that are also available as prints...