More rain today in Gaziantep. At the gym today I met a Turk originally from Istanbul who had lived the last ten years in Cyprus. He had come to Gaziantep for a few months training “And then back to Cyprus [forever I gathered]. Enough time here! Why did you come to Gaziantep? It is not a tourist city.”
If I escape the rain, I’ll be glad to fly to Istanbul. But I think there are clouds everywhere over Turkey these days. I notice the latest attack really affecting the moods of those in my network. Someone was going to visit me in Istanbul Sunday, but cancelled, yesterday the last straw. When I checked up on people’s New Year’s, most had had the air taken out of their balloons.
I walked to the çarşısı (bazaar or pazaar in Turkish, I think) with a couple from Hama in the early afternoon rain. There we met a man named Ali who sells antique carpets — Turkish, Kurdish, Iranian, Iraqi — some over 100 years old. There was a language gap (I had the best Turkish of the three of us, problematic), but no matter, we were received warmly and served çay. Despite a limp, Ali was rolling out antique carpets for my appraisal. They looked old and battered. “If you gave me one, I wouldn’t put it in my home,” my friend said. Some did look positively derelict.
I noticed yesterday a number of my Syrian friends on facebook had birthdays. If you don’t know the day of your birth, just the year, it is common to enter it into facebook (and more official documents) as January 1st. I know a lot of my Syrian friends also don’t use their real names on facebook, so it is also a method of anonymity.
The media here (twitter too, of course) seems to be now splashing the killers’ face everywhere it can, his selfies, his videos. I suppose that can be justified while he remains on the loose. But still — perpetrators gain renown while victims are swallowed by anonymity.
That is one thing that struck me from the beginning. Despite all the talk of technological change and surveillance and satellites, there are people at the bottom of the Mediterranean who sunk without a trace or an inquiry or a paper trail and there are people who died whose stories were lost immediately and forever because no one interested knew where they were at the time.
“You die twice, the second time when you are forgotten,” I paraphrase what an Irish friend quoted to me, north of Dublin about a month ago. The second time should take a while, I suppose, but some Syrians experienced both at once.