A Trip to the Police Station in Istanbul

This is the first of many visits I made to the police in Istanbul.  This station has since been remodelled and is quite nice.  The police have not changed…

Nov. 2002

The legal troubles with my house have spilled over to my contractor, Cevdet, as the landlady has filed a complaint against him, saying he did not spend the money on the house. Since he had refused to give his address to her lawyer, the papers had to be served at the police station. They called him and told him to pick them up. That was a Friday. On the Monday I went with him to be a witness.

The police station in Beyoglu is in a side street off a side street. It is housed in what was once probably a very elegant apartment house. We had to go up marble stairs that were very worn from the many years of traffic. The bureau we went into was probably someone’s home at one time. The ceilings were high, and there were many doors leading off the corridors. The rooms had been painted in the past few years, a not too nasty yellow, but they had probably not been cleaned in quite some time. There were bits of paper on the floor and near the doors there were trampled dust bunnies, like old lint. The cabinets were old and some had broken doors. The desks were crammed together, like in most government offices I have been in. The policeman who took our statement—well, Cevdet’s actually—used a manual typewriter, although there were a few old computers in use in the other office. The policeman we dealt with shared an office with two other officers, with two more in an adjoining room. We were told to wait in that room for a while as he finished up with another “customer”. As we waited, one officer was doing something on the computer—I figured he was playing a game—and the other was reading the newspaper. This is very common in Turkey. It seems to me that in most workplaces in North America, it is frowned upon to be seen reading the paper while on the job. Here it is normal. I suppose the police in particular need to keep up with current events.

Finally we were called into the first room. The officer we dealt with was probably in his forties, and if we hadn’t been in Turkey, he could have been taken for an Irish cop. He was somewhat overweight, with graying hair, glasses, and a stern but still somewhat kind demeanor. Cevdet explained the situation and explained why I was there. The officer asked if I spoke Turkish and, like many people do around foreigners, acted as it I were perhaps a little simple. We established that I was an English teacher and so of course he had to ask about lessons for his son. I assured him that if his son came in and talked to me we could work out a special price for him. Once he had taken the bulk of Cevdet’s statement, he showed Cevdet a piece of blank paper and sent him out to the stationery store to buy a ream of it. This apparently was a kind of “gift” or service for the officer to look kindly on the case. While Cevdet was gone, the policeman asked me if I would talk to his university student son on the phone and proceeded to get him on the line. Actually, his son spoke fairly good English, though his proud father seemed intent on getting him into a course. He was pleased when I told him his son spoke English pretty well.

While I was waiting in the office, there was a disturbance downstairs. A woman was yelling and screaming, though I could not make out if she was the culprit or the victim. No one in the office I was in batted an eyelash. I suppose they are used to it. A few other men wandered in and out, some in civilian clothing. One was joking with them and called one a maniac. I was a little surprised that he was so casual with them until he wandered back in in police uniform.

In general the policemen were a little bemused at having a foreign woman sitting in their midst. They were brusque, but by the time we left, “our” officer was nice to both of us and I told him to send his son to talk to me. The report he typed up so quickly was going to be sent to a sort of lower judge, and hopefully it will be resolved favourably. It was an interesting visit to the police bureaucracy and hopefully all will be well.

Advertisements

My creation story

img_2730

sampler by my mother, Dorothy Joyce Stone Farquharson

My grandmothers and my mother made things and so do I. For the most part, they made things according to directions. So did I. However, now I do stitcheries that come out of my head and as I make them, I often think about what I am doing and why.

First, why? Because I can. Since I am retired, I have the time to do what I want and getting into stitches is what I want to do. It is relaxing, as I generally do it with a movie going on my laptop. It is rewarding because I see what I have done, in contrast to much of my professional work, which was much less visible. Frankly, I am a bit obsessed with making these pieces. I literally cannot go a day without working on something.

How is more complicated, of course. For the stitchery pieces, I have learned to make a border first, and sometimes I even measure it to fit a frame. Or not. I usually start from the bottom and work up, making it up as I go. I don’t draw a design, though I might have one vaguely in mind. Since I use fabric that is meant to be for cross-stitch or tapestry, I usually end up with shapes that are based on the geometry of angles– squares, triangles, straight lines. Even the round parts are a little angular.

The colours I use are determined by a few factors. One is what I am trying to represent. Obviously I use blue hues for water and sky, greens for trees and bushes, many colours for flowers. How much of a colour I use is determined by how much of it I have. Sometimes I am using up colours, which ends up in a more shaded area. Sometimes I have a lot of a colour, so I try to come up with ideas to use it (especially red, as I don’t care for red but ended up having a lot of it). And of course once I have used one colour, I have to decide what other colours will go with it. I like playing with the colours. What goes with what? If I know I will be using several shades, how should I do it? I prefer vibrant colours, but I use everything.

Some of the embroidery thread was my grandmother’s, so that thread is decades old. My sister has some beautiful pieces that Marney did probably in the early 1900s. Some of the thread is left from some of the projects I have made, such as the one for Meadow and the similar style one for me. And of course there have been other projects. I also buy bags of thread from Value Village, some of which is also quite old, judging by the labels with prices as well as the brands. I like that the thread is being used, especially since I doubt there is anyone in my family who would be interested in using it. I am using it up.

One of the things I have noticed about the art I see here in Ontario is that it is very much based on nature. Frank Carmichael, one of the Group of Seven, was born in Orillia, and like the other members, he focussed a lot on the wild Canadian landscape. I would say that the ideas I come up with are partly inspired by the beautiful river my sister lives on, where I have stayed for weeks at a time. My version of nature is more impressionistic, as I can’t draw a ‘real’ thing to save my life.

I also realized that the person looking at my pieces has to look at them closely. Recently an artist I met look cursorily at a piece and said ‘I see a tree.’ Well, there was much more than a tree! The flowers and water depths and sky shadations are also there, sometimes dominated by a tree or two. My pieces remind me of some of my grandmother’s garden embroideries– one has to look closely to see the different stitches.

In the past, I followed directions for pieces I made. Some were from kits, which provided the yarn or thread and even needles, along with a grid and colour scheme. My first counted cross-stitch I made for my daughter when she was a Rose Princess in Portland, Oregon in 1995. It took me more than a year to complete. Then my friend Nancy came across a pattern in the same line, so she gave that to me for my 50th birthday. I then had to go in search of the required embroidery floss, which I did with Meadow on a trip to Portland. That one took eight months of off times from grading papers at Koc University. My friends would drop by and I would show them my progress. It went from being fairly unrecognizable to, oh there is a lady and there is the garden. Another friend gave me a gold nazar to hide in the garden. Another piece I still have (the others I gave away) is from a book I found. Again I had to go in search of the thread for it. It is full of mistakes, of course, but only I can see them and now I don’t even look.

img_3375

I have also made some pieces from buttons. Some people look at them and exclaim, “Oh my god, you sewed all those buttons?!” Well, yes. Sewing buttons is not so hard, though it seems to have become a lost art. Again, I use the buttons to make a picture. I have buttons that were in my mother’s button box and some I found recently at VV obviously came from a button box, as the buttons were quite old.

Of course I knit and crochet, though I am not that good at it, truthfully. However, I have made some bags that I like and I made some things for my grandson that I think my daughter did not like that much. In fact, when I went to her baby shower, I was the only one that had made something by hand.

Ah, mistakes. I think mistakes made a piece more individual. I have a male friend who does cross-stitch and the back is as clean as the front. There is a kind of Turkish work that is absolutely reversible. Not mine! The back is a mess, as I figure no one will look at it. Sometimes I make mistakes in stitching or colours or direction that are too far gone to undo, so I leave them. They add character. Obviously I am not a perfectionist. I have some Turkish village pieces that have mistakes in them and I think they add to the individuality and character of the pieces.

Adult colouring books are the rage now, especially among aging baby boomers. Actually, my grandmother, Marney, coloured in her adult colouring book in the late 1970s, so they are not such a new thing. I have seen articles that discuss how they help people keep their minds sharp. I joke that my stitchery is my version of an adult colouring book, so inshallah my mind will stay relatively sharp as a result. My eyes are another matter. One of these days the stitches will be too small and I will have to move on to something else. That is what my mother did, until she could not do any work due to arthritis and then Parkinson’s. In fact, I have started to make some pieces using larger mesh with yarn.

Whatever the case may be, I love using colours and I hope other people like my work too. I do it for me, but I like to share the stories that go with it.

Paying it forward

So this is my paying it forward story.

I needed to get new lenses for my glasses, so I went to Hambly’s downtown. They have been in business in Orillia for 30 some years. Mr. (Dr.?) Hambly was very attentive so I would get the lenses I wanted. $275. Gulp. I am a retired lady with a very limited budget, so I told him I would come in the following week to pay half and then the following month I would pay the rest and pick up the glasses then. Accordingly, I went in with $150, leaving $125 balance.

One day recently I was in Apple Annie’s downtown, where they sell old-fashioned candy. I was buying some fudge (my treat) and the kids in front of me had pooled their money to get some candy but did not have enough. I gave them 50 cents and asked the young girl if she knew what paying it forward meant. I explained and we were all happy.

That afternoon the guy from the glasses shop called to tell me my glasses were ready. I said I would be in when I got the rest of the money. He informed me that the balance had been paid. What?! I asked if he could tell me who it was but he said the person didn’t want me to know. I was flabbergasted.

However, there is a dilemma. One good friend and I exchange baked goods and occasional coffees or lunch. Is she my $125 friend? This is not my sister’s modus operandi. Beyond that, I have a few acquaintances only. I can’t ask either friend or sis if they were the mysterious donor, because if, say, my sister were not the one, she might then feel guilty for not thinking of it. (Or not, knowing my sister) I have told them about it, but neither has admitted to it.

I was telling someone about this and she asked if Mr. Hambly were sweet on me. Ewww! He is even older than me and I am certainly not interested in anyone being sweet on me. Perhaps he was doing his human wish to help out a retired person. Or not.

This is a sweet mystery to me. People can be very kind, and I appreciate the kindness involved.

PS I did ask my sister (nope) and then I asked the friend. She just ignored my question, so what do you think?