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x0x Sounds, colours, streets. Kemeralti

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    [See more at : http://turkradio.us/k/kemeralti/ ] x0x Sounds, colours, streets. Kemeralti By BARIS DOGRU Perhaps Kemeralti in Izmir where eastern and western
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2007
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      [See more at : http://turkradio.us/k/kemeralti/ ]

      x0x Sounds, colours, streets. Kemeralti


      Perhaps Kemeralti in Izmir where eastern and
      western goods mingle in the emporiums is a black
      hole of colour and sound in the world of

      We always used to enter that bewitching place
      through the same door.

      The history books say that it got its name Konak,
      or mansion, from the ancient arch by the entrance,
      although I never saw it. We used to make our way
      along the thronged streets, going in and out of
      shops selling all and sundry. It was probably the
      market's secret hands that placed little 'bonuses'
      strategically so that children would not explode
      with boredom and heat in the crowds in this
      fascinating unfathomable maze that I never
      deciphered until I grew up and could walk around
      by myself. Just past Ali Galip confectionery,
      whose wondrous flavours were a magnet for
      children, comes the unforgettable Meshur Konak
      sherbet seller on the corner of Birinci Beyler.
      Not being able to remember the taste of the
      ice-cold black mulberry sherbet would be like
      erasing my past.

      And what about Veysel Cikmazi, the blind alley on
      the left with the sock depots and the restaurants
      serving customers night and day. When we wanted to
      see my uncle we would start looking for him from
      the blind alley where he would meet up with his
      old friends. The blind alley that fascinated me as
      a child is not 'blind' any more, because the
      locked iron gate at the end of the alley that
      limited my horizon is now open. The Dogu Karadeniz
      Restaurant where we sit with my uncle is still
      there in the same alley.


      Anafartalar Caddesi, where I used to keep a firm
      grip on my mother's hand to avoid getting lost, is
      the trigger of the historical journey that
      stretches from my childhood to today. The narrow
      streets to right and the left are like small
      undulations in my memory. Mind you, I don't know
      if it is for the people who walked along these
      streets in their childhood or more for those who
      have just become part of this mysterious place,
      but I recommend that you turn your head upwards
      away from the crowds below and look up to the
      second floors, where the old facades and windows
      are such a contrast from the monotony of the
      modern shop fronts.

      History keeps looking at us from those vine
      covered mezzanine floors with their disintegrating
      plasterwork and weeds, and its nostalgic call has
      not gone unanswered. The Kemeralti Communique
      recently passed by parliament and Greater Izmir
      Municipality's Kemeralti Design and Landscaping
      Project are important steps on the way to protect
      this old shopping district's identity. Dogan
      Kuban, the architect who prepared Izmir's first
      conservation plan in 1971, does not exaggerate
      when he says that Kemeralti is the city's
      backbone. This is the heart of Izmir; the city
      that Western travellers knew as the Jewel of the
      Mediterranean. The emporiums surrounding Kemeralti
      like a belt was where they first encountered the
      camel caravans that brought exotic eastern wares
      from the far end of the Spice Road and saw the
      handmade goods that preceded the industrial
      revolution of Europe. They drank their
      mortar-ground coffee among flower and bead sellers
      in vine shaded Hisaronu coffee house together with
      the congregations leaving Kestanepazari Mosque and
      the synagogue on Havra Sokak, where today a
      profusion of colourful goods are on sale.


      Firmly holding on to my mother's hand while
      watching out curiously and also a little warily, I
      would walk amidst the street sellers shouting
      their wares, women hurrying to finish their
      shopping for the coming religious festival, young
      girls blushing in the excitement of trying to
      choose material for their wedding dresses, and
      porters crushed under the weight of enormous
      baskets. As usual we would take a break in my
      uncles' tailor's shop in the arcade on the corner
      of Kestelli Yokusu, a hilly street where there
      were shops full of trainers, sweat suits, and all
      kinds of balls hanging in bunches. After having
      played for a while among the bow shaped wooden
      rulers, the unfinished jackets that had not yet
      had their sleeves sewn in hanging on the walls,
      the bolts of cloth lying peacefully on the shelves
      and the enormous scissors, I could finally get on
      with my real game, which was sitting in front of
      the window drinking my soda and watching the sea
      of people that I had just been part of myself. For
      a while I'd enjoy the pleasure of being in the
      only place where you could look down on the street
      from above.

      In the fish market there is a small child among
      the gilt-head bream and the sargos doing his best
      to avoid getting his trousers wet from the water
      running from the counters and the puddles on the
      side of the wet cobbles. Maybe a little further
      along he will enter the wonderful shop with his
      father where everything from eggs to aubergines
      have been pickled. Or maybe they will take a look
      in the shop where all kinds of wooden goods are
      sold-from rolling pins and mortars to spoons and
      traditional low dining tables, from coat hangers
      to tiny stools-inhaling the smell of wood and

      I remember now the amazement I felt when at
      university I discovered that the wide bow of
      Anafartalar Caddesi once lay on the shore of an
      inner harbour that had become filled with
      alluvium. How many people know that these
      warehouses whose architecture is peculiar to Izmir
      and contain shops and small workshops are the
      entrepĂ´ts that surrounded this harbour? When
      strolling along here it is hard to believe that we
      are walking alongside a former harbour where once
      galleys, galleons, and sailing ships lay at


      Havra Street to the right of Sadirvan Mosque meant
      for me our relations' honey shop, the cackling
      chicken lying on the counter with their feet tied,
      and the nutshop at Ikicesmelik. The left side of
      the mosque meant nearing the end. Because passing
      between the colourful shops selling circumcision
      and wedding clothes and coming to Hisaronu Mosque
      meant the end of this great journey. That wasn't
      of course the only reason that I liked the flower
      sellers that filled the area in front of the
      mosque, the bead sellers all around, the prayer
      bead sellers and the shops selling lovely
      backgammon boards in many different designs. They
      were the little celebrations for tired legs after
      this long walk.

      We are getting nearer the end as we pass
      Kizlaragasi Han, which was a ruin when I was a
      child but was later restored and reunited with
      Kemeralti. The unequalled ice cream of Mennan
      Pastane used to help me walk on and return home
      cheerfully. And how wonderful it is that the vine
      covered street still lives on with the little
      tables lined up along the side where people eat
      their ice creams.

      Maybe Kemeralti really is a child's game. It is a
      true labyrinth, full of surprises, with entrances
      on all sides but from where it can be hard to get
      out again if you don't work out the road plan. The
      minute you take one step into the madding crowd
      you completely resign yourself to your fate. You
      might come across a deserted fountain where the
      old men slowly perform their ritual ablutions.
      Another step, and you might be in a passage where
      the bright circumcision clothes dazzle you; or you
      can sit with the young apprentices as they rest
      and eat their lunch in a three hundred year old
      courtyard. Or you might gaze in a daydream at the
      long shiny flexible tubes of a water pipe
      reflecting the sun. And strangely, there is no end
      to this manner of life. However much you advance,
      so does Kemeralti. Maybe it is a 'black hole' of
      sound and colour in the world of memories.

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