To be a Turk, man or woman, is to be in love with music and dance.
And in my mind’s eye, I see a woman, ageless in the way she stands, apart and yet part of those around her as she dances in her own world and still of the world she inhabits, the music not just heard but felt in the most intimate of ways, and in her movement, the sway of her hips, the lines of her arms, she is grace personified dancing with all of us, dancing with none. And it is this woman, this Turkish woman, who owns our admiration, our hearts.
I remember watching Ali’s nephew Oğuz play the bagpipe at a family gathering my first year here, how intent he was as the sound filled the living room and how everyone there sat smiling, some with eyes closed, legs that moved involuntarily, wanting to rise, to dance, there in that room. Or how one evening one of my first nights back after a year’s absence in New York, going with some new friends, a family related to a family I knew back in America, to a small café in Kadiköy where a guitarist was playing while customers nibbled on platters of French fries or popcorn and as he sang a song from the depths of Anatolia, one of the women I was with rose singing along, and started to sway as she sang, the other patrons at their tables clapping a rhythm, some joining in as a chorus, a few dancing in their chairs, the whole café alive with music, the guitar player beaming with joy, the night vibrant with song.