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Private View: Issue 55

Andrew Finkel wonders how long Turkey will take to heal its self-inflicted woundsafter July’s abortive coup, bemoans the fate of the Feriköy graveyard, and treats himselfto a trip to Cappadocia for the otherworldly Cappadox Festival

I was not born on the 4th of July, or the hour of Indian independence, or even the 29th of October, when Turkey celebrates the founding of its own Republic. Yet this last date did mark a birth of sorts, or rather my r eincarnation into a world of shadows. When I try to recall the Istanbul of the 1960s, a clear spring day comes into mind. I see green hills above thesea-blue of the Bosphorus, tinged with the purple-pink blush of Judas-tree blossom. I remember no colour at all in the Istanbul to which I returned after a long absence– by chance, on Independence Day 1980.

It is night and the street lights are so dim it is awonder anyone bothers to turn them on.The Republic was not in great shape. Neighbourhood gun battles between left and right spilled over into the universities–earning one particularly wide corridor ofIstanbul Technical University the nickname“Bonanza”, after the popular TV western.There were shortages of commodities as basic as cooking oil. Turkish coffee was animport the country could no longer afford.One newspaper even had its own logo to usebeside the headline of the latest outrage– the word anarchy in stencilled letters across a red inkblot symbolising a splodge of spilled blood. The political rancour was such that parliament failed month after month to agree on whom to elect for the largely symbolic role of president.

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Other Highlights from Cornucopia 55
  • Puppetmaster of Pera

    Yusuf Franko Kusa used brush and pen and position to lampoon and pull the strings of Ottoman high society. Unseen for 60 years, his caricatures are now the subject of a fascinating exhibition in Istanbul, writes K Mehmet Kentel

  • The great defender

    At one time all roads led to Erzurum, a key stop on a great caravan route and a strategic bastion against invasion. Today it is a remote city on Turkey’s Asian frontier with an important history crying out to be discovered. In Part 2 of Cornucopia’s Beauty and the East series, the photographer Brian McKee continues his tour of eastern Anatolia in Erzurum as Scott Redford leads us from Turkic citadel to Mongol minarets.

  • Man, myth and mastic

    It was for centuries the preserve of sultans, extolled by the ancients, sought after in the harem, a staple of palace kitchen and pharmacy. More precious than gold, mastic brought fortune and fame to the island of Chios, today the world’s sole source of this ‘Arabic gum’. Now, thanks to a pioneering initiative, the Turkish shores across the water will be green with mastic groves. Text and photographs by Berrin Torolsan

  • Melting hearts

    An ambitious new work of classical music – based on Howard Blake’s enchanting score for ‘The Snowman’ – has just received its world premiere. This concert is just one of many achievements by Talent Unlimited, a Turkish charity that gives budding young virtuosi a helping hand. Tony Barrell tells the story. Photographs: Monica Fritz

  • Golden globes

    And the award for most versatile, most nourishing and best-loved ingredient goes to… the humble chickpea. Berrin Torolsan explores its history and its limitless talent to entertain us in a multitude of different roles

  • Citizen canine

    A fascinating exhibition at the Istanbul Research Institute that explores a dog’s life in Ottoman Istanbul and the transformation of attitudes as Westernisation takes hold

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