Saturday, July 23, 2005

It was early WWII period in Istanbul

They were two small girls. It was early WWII period in Istanbul. Seaside district Caddebostan was very popular at summer time. Two girls were in an old Ottoman mansion at the seaside, where the Ministry of Education used this mansion as summer camp for successful schoolgirls, as reward for their hardwork. Poor but successful girls of elementary schools were invited based on their accomplishments.

Hadiye was also one of those chosen successful few. Her mother was the only surveyor of the wealthy family of Bosnia in WWI, who were forced to leave their estates in one day with limited belongings. She arrived to Istanbul after a long and dangereous walk for more than 3000 miles. She had only her old aunt with her. In Istanbul, she got married with Abdulkadir bey, Istanbul Fatih court staff. They had one daughter, Hadiye. Abdulkadir Bey passed away shortly due to early hearth attack. Mother Fatma Muzeyyen Hanim earned life as tailor for housewifes of the district. Her only daughter Hadiye was a shy, thin girl and very successful in the school.

The other girl was from rich strata of the other Istanbul. Gonul was attending to a private expensive reputable elementary school in rich Nisantasi district. Her father Abdurrahman Bey was a rich successful businessman. He had a textile plant in Yesildirek to produce underwares and its marketing organisation. Her mother was an educated housewife with some rheumatismatic health problems. That year parents decided to go to a health clinic in one of Romanian hot springs. They decided to send Gonul to the same summer camp provided that they pay some contribution for general expenses.

Two girls become friends shortly. Their beds were next to each other. That summer was extraordinary time for them. They swam at the sea, played together. They dreamed future, getting education, visiting foreign lands, getting married, having children. Every morning they looked at each others eyes in order to have a good day ahead.

At the end of the summer camp, they exchanged their postal addresses, promising to write a letter each week, and they kept that promise. One day, Gonul took the public tramway and she visited her friend in their small house at the other end of the city. Mother Fatma Muzeyyen hanim prepared a vageterian lunch for them since it was only available with their budget. Later the day, they talked, played, and walked at the nearby Zeytinburnu seaside.

The next week, the first time in her life, Hadiye took the tramway, and came to the other end of the city, Harbiye ValiKonagi Street, very popular rich section of the city. Gonul lived with her family in a new apartment flat, next to Govener's mansion. Housemaids, cook, and driver served them. They invited Hadiye to their weekend lunch. Hadiye answered their questions in short and smart responses. Family has happy for that friendship, and they encouraged for their weekend meetings. In the afternoon, they walked down to the main street and watched a new foreign film.

The following 4-years, they exchanged reciprocal monthly visits and weekly letters to each other. One day Gonul stopped sending letters. Hadiye was so worried that she took public tramway and went to their house. Door was openned by the elder sister. Ayse said the bad news with pale white face. Hadiye left apartment and cried nonstop on the way back, and more on the days after.

That springtime, parents decide to start cleanup and maintenance in their summer house in the Prince Islands, on the Sea of Marmara, near Istanbul. Gonul joins the helpers that weekend. Weather is relatively hot. She decides to swim at the seafront. However on the same day, the nearby senatorium disposes the dangereous winter refuses into the sea. She gets infected, although immediately hospitalised, but cannot be saved.

Hadiye never forgot her childhood girl friend. She prayed for her all her life. She attended to schools and became a teacher on Turkish Literature. She got married and had children.

On a hot summer night, on the same seashore of Istanbul, where that big old Ottoman mansion was at the back, full moon raised between the Prince Islands on the front, she told this story to her elder son.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


When I was 10 years old, we were two brothers in a core family of four living in a small town. My mother was then a teacher in town's only high school teaching Turkish literature, whereas my father was rural judge to settle down the land disputes in the rural region. My grandmother was living with us.

My mother had too much house work so one day she expressed her need for a housemaid, a small girl to help her in daily household activities. So my father asked his staff to find a proper housemaid preferably to stay with us to help my mother. Rural administrators are asked to advise for a family to volunteer to give their girl, preferably a poor motherless family unable to support their children.

Then one day we have been advised that a poor father whose wife left the house with someone else, volunteered to give his 8-year old girl to our family. One early morning she arrived with a poor dirty dress, long dirty hair, with heavy dirty smell, with no belongings. She was afraid of being alone, in a different new environment, away from her natural family protection.

My grandmother took the initiative, pushed her to the bathroom, stripped her completely, cut her dirty hair at short style and washed her completely multiple times during the day. Then my mother tailored new dress for her. She had same food we had, clean dress, comfortable bed to sleep. She was not overloaded. She was a small house maid, a daily household helper for my parents, but for us, two small boys, she was our natural sister to share everything.

We had 3 years together. At first she avoided to talk, other than short talk, in order to hide her rural accent. Within 3-months she modified her accent and was able to talk in the same manner we had. The next year my younger brother was in the first year of elementary school, we shared all books and she learned read and write and math.

After 3-years my parents decided to move to the capital city in order to enable the kids to attend to better schools available in the capital city.

Our sister had home education during that time. Mom decided to send her to special school for girls to let her receive special talents for home management, tailoring, cooking, etc. She could also go to schools for teaching or health services.

However one day she disappeared suddenly for 3- days.We informed the town police. They found her in a shanty house at the outskirts of the town, with her biological father and relatives from the rural village. Her father said that he missed her daughter very much after 3-years.

It was shock for my parents. They were afraid of not being able to control her escapes. Things may get worse, and they could not carry the responsibility any further.

So my parents decided to send her back to her family.One day her luggage was prepared, full of her personal dresses, plus some books to read.

Anyhow from the very beginning, we two boys presumed that she was our new natural sister, not a housemaid, and we shared everything with her.

Suddenly one day she left our house leaving us, two small boys all alone without sister. Two small boys lost their sister thereafter. We had no more news of her thenafter. We had a new born brother. Later our family moved to the capital city Ankara. We changed our environment, our house, our city, our way of life, our schools. So her absence was absorbed and forgotten in time.

Most probably she got married at a very early age, and for her marriage, her father probably received a big amount of cash money or land for agriculture in agreement with the other party, since she was not an illiterate village girl any more but a literate educated polite mannered city girl.

We have two group pictures taken in one of my humble birthday parties, cute, cleaver, pretty, small girl next to daughter of local high public administrator.

I feel and wish that she got married and had many children as well as grandchildren at later years, and had a happy life.

Anyhow I still feel sorrow after her leave for her absence, loss of a sister in early childhood.

Your comments are always welcome!



I'm asking myself why you just sent this to me. Then again, if you want my honest opinion, I'm always happy to share with a fellow writer. I thought this was sent to the group site--interesting.

I would suggest that you leave out the phrase at the very beginning of your essay--"Long long time ago, when I was 10 years old". Just say instead--"When I was ten years old--and go on from there."
This is a fascinating study of your culture. The choice of words you use really tells me a great deal about what you consider "normal life." For example, if your mother needed help with the household chores, why couldn't the young men of the household help out. I know why. It just wasn't done, perhaps considered just women's work. There's one example.

Then a young, but poor, eight year old girl comes to your house to help out your overworked mother. She is taken under wing and although, she works, she is also treated as one of the family. That is wonderful and she obviously benefits from living in your household. It sounds like you accepted her until I read these words----”cut her hair at proper short style” or “hide her terrible rural.” This shows a prejudice against the child that cannot control her existence. Now I will not stand in judgment of you or your family, and obviously you loved this girl a great deal. I think you want us to see your feelings for this girl and you would like to know what happened to her.

Here you tell us about her schooling--”Our sister had home education during that time. Mom decided to send her to special school for girls to let her receive special talents for home management, tailoring, cooking, etc.” I'm guessing that girls are not afforded the same educational opportunities as boys there. Or was that merely your mother's choice?

Now here we really see the change in class structure----”for her marriage, her father probably received a big amount of cash money or land for agriculture in agreement with the other party, since she was not an illiterate village girl any more but a literate educated polite mannered city girl.” Your word choice says it all. This is not a criticism, Haluk, just an observation in our cultural differences. Women are, in fact, exploited and considered commodities in many countries. Young girls, especially in poor and rural areas, are married off or given away at an early age. I've studied this in some of my history and literature classes. I cannot say that I agree with the practice.

I like the ending and I think it shows your love for a “sister” that you undoubtedly miss. “I still feel sorrow after her leave for her absence, loss of a sister in early childhood.” There are many databases to search for people here on line. But I doubt if she's listed on any of them. Perhaps she's out there somewhere and would like to see you also. Have you tried to locate her? You obviously care about her still. I feel that in your word choice as well.

You may want to rethink some of your word choices, but I see a lot of love for a young girl showing through here. And I think that's what you should concentrate on. I hope this is helpful to you and let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Carol, USA

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London 7/7

I am terribly sorry for the latest attacks today in London. We had the same in Istanbul on November 20,2003. Earlier that was 9/11 in NewYork. That is something against humanity. I am afraid that we are heading to worst science fiction conditions at full speed. The security precautions will be tightened obviously, and I am afraid that we shall have police state everywhere in the globe. We do not deserve those days, and I do believe that our children deserve better environment. We should all contribute for better/ safe days, with all our capacity. I share the sorrow of of our friends in London, and hope them fast recovery.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Canadian Day- 1st July 2005

Dear Colleagues

It was Canadian day, last Friday, 1st July 2005. I was invited to the celebration reception in the Canadian Embassy. Ambassador Michael Leir and his staff was welcoming the incoming guests at the embassy entrance.

Guests were from other foreign embassy staff, Corps Diplomatique so-to-speak, high level local public servants, ministers, undersecretaries, general managers, plus business people local and expatriates, as well as Turkish Canadians.

Embassy parking lot was full of high profile powerful big cars, their drivers and guards. Yours truely parked his car in his own office park, walked to the Embassy. That was more logical. There was no need to compete. Anyhow we were all on the same greengrass for networking.

Canadian Whisky, Canadian and French wines were available as well as other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Food was abundant. I had some red dry wine as usual.

In these events, embassy invites all key figures (sometimes also your humble servant) and expect them to make necessary business networking.

Ladies were beautiful, all men were powerful in their business posts, weather was hot, dry and excellent, no clouds on the sky, sun was shining, a soft breeze all time on the embassy hill.

The Lady Commercial Councellor (Mrs. Jennifer Barbarie) informed that she completed her mission in Ankara, and she will be relocating in Ottawa shortly. We shall miss her very much. She was a great person in increasing Canadian Turkish business relations, especially in hydro power investment projects.

I met with Prof. Dr. Ronald Crelinsten in the reception. He is from University of Victoria of British Columbia, Centre for Global Studies. He is writing a new book on global risks. He says that he will be in Ankara for sometime. I agree that Ankara is the best place in the globe to write a book on global risks.

Thank you for inviting me to the Canadian Day. I enjoyed a lot.

Your comments are always welcome !!