Thursday, April 6

Weekend Wrap-up

OK, I know it’s Thursday, and in some corners of the world today is considered the beginning of the new weekend, so it might seem strange to do my weekend wrap-up so late in the week, but years from now when I look back on this blog to see just what the hell I was doing with my life during the first decade of the 21st century, at least I won’t have to wrack my brain about what happened on April Fools Day 2006.

Actually, quite a lot happened this past weekend. On Friday, Joe and I went with K and D and our housemate G to see Bulutlari Beklerken (Waiting for the Clouds, 2004), the second film in The 5th Boston Turkish Film and Music Festival. We had longstanding plans to see Cesaria Évora at the Orpheum with J and G Friday night, but when we heard about this film, we decided to try to squeeze it in before the concert, since the film screened at 6pm and the concert was at 8pm. It seemed feasible to do both.

I’m glad we saw it, though it wasn’t what I expected. The film is set in 1975 in a village along Turkey’s Black Sea Coast and tells the fictitious story of an elderly woman, a Pontic Greek, who as a child was forced out of her village as part of the widespread deportation of Black Sea Greeks that occurred during the First World War and immediately afterwards. Forced to march south (in this case to the port city of Mersin near the Syrian border), thousands died en route. Many parents, knowing that they were dying, begged locals along the way to take in their children, lest they perish. Some locals took in children left orphaned and raised them as their own.

In Bulutlari Beklerken, the main character lost her parents and baby sister, while she and her brother were taken in by a family of Turks. Her brother, not wanting to stay with a Turkish family, ran away and ended up in an orphanage and was later sent to live in Greece (to Thessaloniki). The girl is raised as a Turk and is forced to hide her true identity. Had it been revealed that she was a Greek, she would have been forced to leave Turkey during the population exchange of 1923 or she might have been killed. As a result, she lives her entire life as a Turk, returning later to her ancestral village on the Black Sea without revealing who she is. After the death of her adopted sister—the last surviving member of her Turkish family—the strain of keeping her past a secret becomes unbearable and on the verge of insanity she reveals her identity to a young boy whose presence in her life reminds her of the brother she lost sixty years earlier. Eventually she goes to Greece in search of her lost brother, and the ensuing reunion between brother and sister is both moving and troubling as the two struggle to piece together the remnants of a family destroyed by war.

The premise of the film is that, while the native Greek population was gradually removed from Turkey first through a series of informal deportations and forced migrations and later through a formal exchange between Greece and Turkey, there were inevitably Greeks who were left behind, most likely children taken in by Turkish families and raised as Turks. The group with which I saw the film all agreed that such a thing seemed entirely credible to them, and based on my own reading, I wouldn’t disagree. In many ways, the story is very similar to Not Even My Name, a biographical account written in 2001 by the American-born daughter of Thea Halo, a Pontic Greek who survived one of the death marches after she and her entire family were forced to leave their village.

After the film we didn’t have much time to make it to the Orpheum, so we rushed off in a cab after saying our hasty goodbyes. G (who is Turkish) was quite moved by the film, and we really wanted to stick around and discuss it with him, but we knew we had to go and since we live with him, we knew we’d have ample opportunity later.

We actually beat J and G and their two friends to the Orpheum. It’s really a magnificent space, that Orpheum. It’s in bad need of a restoration, but enough of its grandeur survives to give a sense of its former glory. I hadn’t been inside in almost a decade and was quite awestruck. We sat in the balcony and had a great view of the stage.

I admit, I hadn’t heard of Cesaria Évora until J invited us to the concert. She’s amazing. Originally from Cape Verde, her Afro-Brazilian tunes have that wonderful mix of sultry soul and jazz that never fails to entrance me. The concert opened with a Brazilian singer on acoustic guitar who sang of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (shantytowns). Afterwards, G and I discussed the similarities (and differences) between the urban folk music emerging from the favelas and Greek Rembetika, which grew up in the shantytowns of Athens and Piraeus in the 1920s and 30s. It was after the concert, moreover, as a tall, dark, and handsome gentleman caught his eye, that G first brought up Fayyum portraits.

On Saturday, we had a little birthday party at our place for Joe and our friend L. We ate, we drank, we smoked, we played music, we showed a couple of old films on the projector that Joe finally got working, I shot some really great video of our housemate D telling some funny stories about our trip to Montréal, and we all got to feeling pretty good overall.

That was partly due to the drinks I was making in my really cool cocktail shaker (which has been compared to a rather large metallic vibrator). I started mixing up what’s called a ménage a trois for F and me and before I knew it, everyone wanted one. It’s a blend of Chambord, Frangelico, and Bailey’s. I first had one at Cuchi Cuchi in Cambridge—the drink, not a threesome. M called them “gay teenboy drinks” (or something like that), but that didn’t stop him from having one. They are super yummy. F had three in a row—he kept asking, and I kept mixing. Eventually we ran out of Frangelico, but another M started mixing something else at that point.

Our housemate D and some of our friends did most of the cleaning up, so on Sunday Joe and I didn’t have much to do other than tend to our respective hangovers. We attended a neighborhood meeting in the afternoon and around dusk took a lovely walk in the Blue Hills near Houghton’s Pond. We ended the weekend with dinner at Ten Tables in Jamaica Plain, which we’d been meaning to try. The meal was splendid, and Shane, their dining room attendant, is an absolute doll. Charming, attentive, and stunningly beautiful. We’ll definitely be going back. And perhaps I’ll order a ménage a trois for after dinner.


Blogger Will said...

Cuchi Cichi sounds SO Charo!

It's Thursday and I notice that there's no HN-ness posted. Perhaps a second post of the day?

1:00 PM  
Blogger The Persian said...

Oh that movie sounds right up my alley, fascinating!!
And those drinks sound just amazing, maybe when I end this sober spell I will try and make one!


1:01 PM  
Blogger castor said...

To have his personal roots in the Mediterranean Area is always a whopping legacy, sometimes full of joy and desire, sometimes full of tearfulness ...

3:43 PM  

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