Dancing Dervishes, tesbis and Kurdish

Posted on March 2nd, 2006 by piling

Monday, searching a tesbi (yeah I was seized with a desire to replace the one I broke some years ago) I moved naturally towards the Centre culturel Anatolia, firstly because it is not far, and secundly because I waited from Turks quick and immediately useful informations on where I could find tesbis, while asking to Kurds would have provoked a general meeting with warm debates about the places where to find (and especially not find) them, and at the end : “Hey, wait a bit, I will bring you one when I go to the country” or “I will ask to X or Y to ask to his cousin…” OK, thanx people.

And then in Anatolia, quick answer with a free booklet about the “Turkish Paris” (published by Western Union), and they sent me to the Bookshop Mevleva rue de l’Echiquier : “You know, it is not far, we call the district Little Turkey.” I know very well, half Little Turkey half Little PKK in fact, but I shut up my mouth because I have not had the intention to go to shopping by claiming everywhere my suspect kurdistanity. We should be defiant with tesbis, if some of them have baraka, it means that others could give you bad luck. Then, PAX, I shut up and acted almost like a “tourist coming back from Istanbul and wishing that everybodice notice her nostalgy”.

The bookshop is a funny melting-pot of tesbis (a lot of, y en plein, all colors, all stuffs, plastic, false turquoise, false silver, real fruit cores) ; cunningly I counted the pearls always 33 or 99, not seen 12, nor 24 nor 40 : They are mevlevis, not Alevis, sure ; next to tesbis, religious books, all in Turkish but a few in French, the most common titles, Ibn Arabî, Rumî (normal in that placei), and the Lings ; key-rings against the Bad Luck Eye, with a blue eye resembling enucleate eyes, what is perfectly gore, but that we see everywhere in Turkey : as pins, necklace or threshhold decoration ; cassettes (arf !) and CD which among some coming obviously from Central Asia ; Atatürk’s portrait, and Kaabah’s pictures, toys, fancy goods, knick-knacks, odds and ends… as flags of Turkistan, Tataristan and else Turanistan-lands (but I did not see the flag of Kirkukistan).

Then I began to,fiddled about all the tesbis (important choice, not only by colour, fingers must like the stuff, pearls must shift easily). After a quarter of hour, the owner of the bookshop brought a tray with two tea glasses (I was with a French friend). Then spontaneously, wuthout thinking, I said : “tes,ekkür ederim”. Hearing that the guy began a long Turkish sentence and showed me a table with chairs for guests. By laughing I explained “türkçe bilmyorum”, but it has absolutley no importance, I must sit down, and drink a tea, and even 2, and infact as so much as I wish.

So we sat down with a (boiling !) tea, and I have to answer to intrigued and smiling questions : How do I know the Bookshop ? euh.. From Anatolia Center. Ah OK. And I go to Anatolia as a student, to learn Turkish ? Euh, not exactly… (It seemed a bit provocative to explain that it was front of the Kurdish Institute !). And do I know sufism ? Mevlevis ? Of course, very well. And Kudsi Erguner, did I hear of him ? I do, yeah. And as a CD of nay was played in the shop (he noticed I said nay not flute) I started to explain to my friend the symbol of the nay, this reed rooted up from its reeds-bank, complaining like souls longing for the ONE, all that stuff…

Then the owner brought his own nay, explaining that he is learning, and gave it to me for I tried to play. I was sure that it was as so difficult as playing trumpet. I was right. Even after bursting my lungs, not a sound. One minute before, he has asked me if I was a dervish, I think that I was very reassuring on that point.

Then the sufi follower informed that he came from Konya. Do I know Konya ? euh, only its reputation. Did I ever go in Turkey ? Yeah (and I guessed that he was going to ask me WHERE…). – Where ? – Euh… Istanbul. – Ah, Istanbul. And elsewhere ? – Euh… Ankara, Kus,adasi, Kayseri (I’ve tried to quote all the “innocent” places I went before reaching Kurdistan). But of course, the only interesting point for him was if I know or not his birthplace.And am I student ? (arf !). No ! (and he was going to me what I do, and how I know all that, I guessed). “And how do you know sufism ? ”

At a such step,There I must say that I wanted to laugh because I know what I was going to answer. After all, it was so funny to tell it loudly, after a bunch of clandestine travels in Turkey. And I was curious to see his reaction also. Then, with the most ANGELIC face : “Ah but I translate sufis.” “Really ? And who ?” ARCHANGELIC eyelids flutter : “Ahmedê Khanî.” He leaned his head to hear better : “Khanî ? ” “Khanî.” Thought a bit (obviously he does not know the name) then : “But you translate which language ?” Me, as I did not understand : “In French.” “yes…but… from Arab ?”

CHERUBINIC eyelids flutter : ” No, from Kurdish.”

Glups. Rooted to the spot. He opened his eyes wide. Couldn’t believe it.

– You are Kurd ????
– Not at all. (with the attitude : “weird question !”)

Thoughtfull silence. Suddenly 2 other Turks entered and of course he ran to announce them the uncredible news : that I speak Kurdish, while I sipped dreamily my tea, wondering if an offenced Turan squadron will fire me from the place…

And then I heared in Turkish something like : “Well, we are friend !” biz, bizin, bizim ? and arkadash. My turn to open wide eyes with a confuse air. They are not Kurd tough, but 100% Turks, not high sized but stoky men, with a round head like a watermelon and an air of tough guys from the Steppe. Well friendly tough guys. Not “flushy-death of shyness- melted” air like Kurds but kind in a reasonnable and not expansive way. And of course, when a customer enter, they learned him immediately that “I speak Kurdish”, without any kind of scandal.

However people told me that Konyali were all nationalist. Not even a question about what I think of the PKK, Öcalan, bla bla bla. At a moment, the owner said that he has to go out 15 minutes and he will come back soon, (while his 2 friends watched the shop). If I had been with PKK members, I would have interpreted :”OK, he will see his hierarchy, for deciding which attitude it is appropriate to adopt.” But I ignore if Pan-Turanist parties or sufis need a hierarchy to decide if they fire people by kicking them on bottom or unrolling the red carpet.

So I finished my tea and returned to tesbis and ogled the 2 substitutes, who did not like angry at all. One of them gave me (and its shoes alternatively) a radiant and shy smile. Definitively, they don’t seem angry…

After 1/2 hour the owner of the shop came back (if he had been PKK I would have said: the meeting is finished, but there it would be slanders), begging pardon for the delay. I took my tesbi, paid, bye bye and received a smile as shy as his mate’s one : “You should come back, for talking sufism each other”. Yeap. And the next time I will grouse because I did not see “Mem and Zîn” on sale there.

Of all that, I will conclude : either Turkish-Kurdish relations are improving (a few weeks before the Newroz it is not obvious), or mevlevis are (very) open-minded, or living in their barzakh they have never heard of the war (but I doubt of that), or, like it often happens, they decided (as other Turks and Kurds) to notice only what pleases them, sweeping from their mind all the awkward facts, since the first impression is the best one.

Or they want I come back to make me speak (Parano Mata Hari tune :))).

Moreover, Mevlava is a place to be recommended, even tea is good, like a Turkish smuggling-tea!


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