(Turkish Hospitality… with Ibrahim T from Istanbul)
The first guy shot for the Istanbul issue was Ibrahim T, and it was quite a schlep that first morning to his place. It involved a twenty minute steep walk to Kabatas Port, a ferry over to Üsküdar on the Asian side, and then a taxi ride. When I got to Üsküdar I first tried Über, but I could only find one driver nearby, who after fifteen minutes of waiting, cancelled the ride. So I had to get a public taxi, and as I feared, he didn’t know a word of English. So I phoned Ibrahim T, handed the phone to the driver, and then we were off.
Midway he pulled over to buy some gevreği (Turkish sesame bagels). Initially I thought it was a bit annoying (that’s my impatient always-rushing London mindset kicking in), but I was quickly turned around when he offered me one. I can’t imagine any London cabbie sharing a snack.
When I got out of the taxi, Ibrahim was just crossing the road to meet me. He welcomed me with a kiss on each cheek, and then we walked to his place, where his mother was quickly offering me food too. Having filled up on a dense bagel, I declined, but she was incapable of not giving me something as a welcome, so she made me tea. She then proceeded to chat to me in Turkish while Ibrahim was packing some clothes for our shoot. Even though she knew I didn’t understand her, it didn’t stop her nattering on. The only thing I could make out, helped by colourful body language, was that she was trying to tell me that she thought her son was too skinny. Quite sweet really.
After the shoot, we came back to Ibrahim’s place where his mum had prepared a snack for me – mercimekli kofte. This is a sort of meat-ball shaped patty made from ground lentils and bulgur wheat, heavily spiced and absolutely delicious. I thanked her in Turkish (‘thank you’ being one of the only Turkish words I knew), but she wasn’t done. Just as I was about to leave she handed me a take-away box of several more patties. So this is Turkish hospitality. Such a wonderful welcome for the first day of Istanbul shoot week.
See more of Ibrahim T and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (06) Istanbul