As with many of the villages around Malatya, the most important export in Bekiruşağı is apricots. Both dried and fresh, these apricots make their way to open air markets in towns throughout Turkey.
Here, Ayşe Pektaş shows off some of this year’s harvest, dried in the sun on the back porch of the house where she lives with her son’s family.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-400, f/4.5, 1/6 sec. (Canon IS 18-200 @ 18 mm)
Canon EOS Rebel Xti, ISO-1600, f/7.1, 1/40 sec.
Meanwhile, children of the village also stake out a spot across the street to watch the bride’s emergence, balancing on the back of a wagon found close at hand.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, f/13, 1/80 sec.
Sunday morning, and it’s time for the final preparations before the ceremonial bridal procession caps off the wedding festivities. Eren and his best man, Erdahl, pose on the dirt road in front of Eren’s family’s house, which also houses the bridal suite for Sunday night. The Turkish flag flies over the house to announce a day of celebration, and Eren stands out himself with the groom’s traditional red sash. The bridal car (my 1997 Hyundai, pressed into service as the most prestigious vehicle available), has been the subject of some valiant attempts to keep it clean and shiny in the dusty streets, and now it fits the theme well with a license plate tag that reads, “We’re getting married!”
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, f/13, 1/200 sec.
Eren’s mother Fadimana keeping an eye on Guleser’s two kids: Seyit, standing, and Ayşe on her back. The children demonstrate excellent Turkish posing etiquette by not cracking the slightest smile while having their picture taken, while Fadimana is relaxed enough to let a little of her warm personality shine through.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-800, f/5.6, 1/50 sec.
Mehmet Oruç comes across as a jovial man, trying not to be too much concerned with the pressures of life. One morning in the village several years ago, I asked him why we were still sitting at him while several families of neighbors had gone out to work in their vineyards. “We’re lazy,” he explained with a satisfied smile, leaning back against a cushion in a corner of the house. “We have enough to eat, and that’s all we need,” he said, waving his right hand in an essentially Turkish gesture.
“Smoking is bad. Very bad,” he went on, tapping a cigarette in an ashtray on the floor while smoke swirled through the closed room. “But I can’t quit. What can I say?”
Today, Mehmet and his wife Fadimana live peacefully in the village, and there were signs the last time I was there that he may have finally quit smoking. Perhaps he wonders who will look after his vineyards later, with both sons now living in Konya. But if he does, it doesn’t show. Mehmet likes to be happy.
The village of Derinkuyu in Turkey is known to tourists as the site of one of several underground cities in Cappadocia. The soft volcanic rock in the region was easily carved into caves by residents from Hittite times until the 20th century.
But the rock was also ideal for ornate decorative carving. A large stone Armenian church stands less than a hundred yards from the entrance to Derinkuyu’s underground city, deserted today in the center of a grassy field. When I wandered up to the door on a windy day, these three school children – the oldest still in her blue uniform – came running up, eager to show me the sights, ride their tricycles around me in circles and see how they looked in the back of my camera.
In Turkey, it can be hard to separate yesterday from today.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, f/5.6, 1/100 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.