Moving away from Anatolia now, but remaining in the Middle East – some would say the center of the Middle East. Here, pedestrians walk through a Palestinian neighborhood just outside Jerusalem’s Old City.
The roof of Mehmet Abi’s house was not left abandoned after Eren and his best man had finished raining confetti on the bride below. Wives, sisters, nieces and neighbors continued to crowd the balcony, watching as the happy couple embraced well-wishers in the dirt yard below.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, f/10, 1/125 sec.
Emerging from the house as a married couple for the first time, Eren and Ayşegül are immediately engulfed by a crowd of relatives, neighbors and other well-wishers. Those closest to the bride and groom pin cash or small gold pins to their clothes, while those farther away either cover their faces at the presence of cameras, or record the whole proceedings themselves for posterity.
Most of the older male relatives have again been left on the outskirts making small talk and shaking hands, most likely not because of any traditional imperative, but rather because they just aren’t as interested as the women are.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, f/10, 1/200 sec.
Huseyin Amja (Uncle Huseyin) is Eren’s grandfather. 76 years old, he is still going strong and able to dance the kaşık oyunu with the best of them. But age does have a way of catching up with you, I suppose. While the younger boys were getting the dancing started in the schoolyard on Saturday afternoon, Huseyin Amja was inside having a quick glass of Turkish tea. On the table in front of him, a handmade acoustic saz and a bag of extra wooden spoons wait to be pressed into service when the dancing heats up later in the evening.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-400, f/5.6, 1/30 sec.
There is a custom in the village lands of the Taurus. Engaged couples do not speak to one another in crowds, or in view of others. Their love-making, their speaking together, is secret. And this was one of the reasons that they [Halil and Zeynep] came to the village by night.
–From Yashar Kemal’s retelling of Alageyik (p213). My translation from the Turkish.
6:30 pm on Saturday: While the warm-up dancing continued over in the schoolyard, close friends and relatives of the groom gathered to eat in his family’s house. Out on the street in front of the house, Eren’s older sister Güleser paused for a smile, carrying her daughter Ayşe on her back.
When I first met Eren more than 10 years ago, Güleser was still engaged to be married to her future husband, Mehmet. Their engagement would last nearly two years, but in keeping with village custom, the couple never spoke to each other, especially when Güleser’s father was around. Mehmet would visit her house every day, often going out to help weed the vineyards throughout the afternoon, without ever speaking a word or even making eye contact with his fiancée.
I can only speculate whether the two of them ever happened to secretly meet, away from any prying eyes. But I should note there is a popular Turkish sitcom named “Fathers Are The Last To Hear.”
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, F/5.6, 1/125 sec.