I didn’t intend to stop for more than one night in Aydin, but I hadn’t reckoned on the fulsomeness of Turkish hospitality. One of the professors from this town's university visited my house in Bristol last year, so I dropped by to say hello on my way north - I’m not allowed to leave until I’ve been properly shown around.
Aydin is largely made up of newish pastel-coloured concrete tower blocks and mosques, visitors do not come here. Before I go out on the street I put on clothes that I think are properly sober, I look in the mirror and think 'would a Turkish person wear that?’ and I think they might, but people are falling off their bicycles trying to get a better look at me, so I guess that I must appear as an odd cartoonish figure in this landscape. If I look back at the women I pass, they have often stopped in the street and turned to watch me, when they see me they smile and wave, which is nice but slightly unnerving.
I am leaving tomorrow but not before I have made a supper party, my mouth made the suggestion before my brain could stop it and now I’m a bit daunted by the prospect of cooking for a roomful of Turkish academics, possibly they are all daunted by the thought that I might make them eat toad in the hole and spotted dick.
Aydin is known for it’s figs so I’m going to make this tagliatelle dish with figs, lemon and chilli (it’s good, try it) followed by chicken and spinach salad with roast peppers.
This morning I went to the market with its streets of vegetable stalls piled high with produce. The other shoppers are all pushing big overflowing trolleys, I try and buy just one handful of chilli peppers and I get laughed at, it’s not worth charging me for such a small amount, nor the single lime - then some ladies stop me and ask me something - I can’t understand, so one of the women makes a call on her mobile and passes the handset to me so that I can speak to a young girl trying to translate her mother’s question
My mother wants to know ... whasserangum afffersezzem ...
... actually I can’t remember the exact sounds made after that first bit, but it was incomprehensible, we flounder around trying out sounds on each other until the phone runs out of battery, we part company with none of us any the wiser.
There seemed to be demand for an image of the mud baths, I'm the one wallowing.
If you stand up in this warm salty compound it's thigh deep but lie down in it and you bob on the surface - weird, and cool, when you want to de-mud you can just dive into the lake on the other side of the wall.
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