an excerpt from my humorous travel
Sun, Strong Tea. (The
previous episode is Cheap
On October 21st we piled
into the Opel and the ciné-minibus
and headed west to Bursa, the first
capital of the Ottoman
got to know Diana a little bit as we
drove. She was friendly but a bit distant.
"I'm living with my parents temporarily," she
said. "I was in the States but
there were some problems, so I'm spending
some time in Ankara with them."
So she had things on her mind. Career?
Economic? Romantic? I couldn't tell,
and she wasn't saying.
The film project was a welcome distraction,
she said. She was responsive to the
director's wishes as we worked, but
showed little emotion one way or another
about it all. Notablyto me, at
leastshe also showed little emotion
about me. Not that I expected anything
different, especially if she was in
a fragile emotional state, but after
a year of living like a monk I must
admit that my imagination blossomed
with the unfolding possibilities.
We arrived in Bursa in
the evening. Diana and I were given
rooms in one of the better hotels.
The director and crew bedded down in
a much cheaper place.
The next morning we showed up at the Ulu
Cami, Bursa's venerable Great
Mosque (1396) to shoot The Tourist
Couple Wandering Through The Venerable
Mosque. Diana was wearing one
of her body sheaths. The venerable
old hajis (men whose white beards
showed they had made the holy pilgrimage
to Mecca), recoiled in shock and
Nurettin Bey had been careful to procure
all the proper official permissionsfrom
the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry
of Religious Affairs, the city government,
the local mufti, the historical commission,
probably even the chief astrologist
and the head of the parking ticket
office. He marched in waving a sheaf
of papers blackened with rubber stamps
and signatures, but that made no difference
to the hajis. They had come to the
mosque to pray and here were these weird-looking
foreigners, one of them obviouslyfar
too obviouslya woman, being
chased around by klieg lights and
a movie camera.
I don't blame them. What they didn't
know, and what I didn't have the heart
to tell them, is that we were the tip
of the iceberg, nay, a mere blob of sorbet, compared
to the tsunami of Sony-toting infidels who
would soon crowd noisily into their
The old men registered their protest
with Nurettin Bey, then retired to
pray, no doubt asking Allah to explain
what the devil was going on in His
house and had He had a change of heart
and come out in favor of secularism,
infidels and body sheaths, or what?
We shot the scene and were out of
there, off to the Yesil Camii (Green
Mosque), where things went better because
it's out of the city center, away from
the bazaar, and more sparsely attended.
From Bursa we drove west along the Sea
of Marmara coast to Erdek, a
popular seaside resort, then south
to Izmir and Ephesus,
where we filmed The Happy Tourists
Treading The Marble Streets.
On the highway south of Ephesus we
encountered a camel caravan, still
used to transport common freight in
the Aegean region in 1968. We drove
up and down the highway trying to get
some shots with the camels. (Alas,
the camels didn't make the final cut.)
I enjoyed driving
a car, which I hadn't
had the chance to do before in Turkey.
Diana seemed to enjoy herself and carefully
followed the director's instructions,
which were to look out the window at
the passing scenery and now and then
to chat with me, the other half of
the happy couple.
We got it all on film, and came finally
to the modest fishing village of Marmaris,
where it promptly began to pelt hail.
At that time Marmaris was a mere village
which made its living entirely from
the bounty of land and sea instead
of from imported bodies toting credit
cards. Hearty fishermen still
set out in their boats early each morning,
and sinewy farmers with gnarled
hands and toothy grins still tended
their citrus orchards with ancient
The film shows it all quite clearlythe
bollards for tying up boats along the
treeless concrete quay, the black piles
of fishing gear, the brawny mariners
mending their nets or chatting in familiar
Looking at sleek Marmaris today, with
its traffic-thronged corniche shaded
by towering palms and crowded with
trim yachts, our movie seems painfully
In the Marmaris of 1968, the only
to stay was an ev
pansiyon ("home pension").
The only hotel worth the name was the
Hotel Lidya, off by itself far around
the bay, a favorite of the grafty political
class and utterly out of our price
We drove to our pension, met the smiling
proprietress, and were shown to our
rooms. Of course I was shown to my
room, and Diana was given a room by
herself. The matron of the pension
didn't know the situation between us
except that we weren't married, and
that was enough for her.
She naturally assumed the role of
mother-chaperone. Being a mother and
having sons of her own, she could easily
read my mind. After she had shown us
to our rooms, she gave me a steely
look that said, unmistakably, "I
know what youre thinking, and
it will happen over my dead body after
a loud and unpleasant ruckus. P.S: Take
a gander at my biceps."
The next day we started shooting the Marmaris scenes.
Diana and I sauntered along the quay,
we "shopped for souvenirs" in the tiny
market, we "went to the Tourist Office
After the days shooting, we
returned to our pension. The matron
gave us a warm welcome which included,
for my benefit, an abbreviated but
incontrovertibly authentic version
of the steely look. I wasn't going
to mess with her or her biceps. We
retired to our separate bedrooms....
here to order an autographed
copy of the book online with
credit card or PayPal.
from Turkey: Bright Sun, Strong
Tea copyright © 2004 by
Tom Brosnahan. All rights reserved.)
Thumb in My Soup)
Excerpts from Bright Sun,
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