Day Nine: Tokat

It is perhaps a blessing that Kirsten was our Camera Woman today (it ended up being a shopping day, which means my hands got full of bags, and thus I couldn’t be bothered to drag out my camera every time a gorgeous covered woman looking vaguely melancholy walked by). Her camera snapped most of the hundreds of pictures, and then we were too tired tonight for me to snag her photos from her camera. So I’ll toss out a few highlights and then hop into bed and catch some snoozies before we get up and head to the Kayseri airport tomorrow morning. We’ll return our rental car and fly back to Istanbul for two more nights. Then, the return home. How’d that happen so fast?

We were in the city of Tokat today, a place I will remember for its very dear people. We were never hawked by vendors trying to get our money; we were never pressured or bothered. Rather, we were welcomed. The end. Plus, nearly every citizen of Tokat shucked aside our attempts at Turkish so that he/she could un-self-consciously try out not-so-bad English. Something about that city’s entire populace struck me as very kindly.

That feeling, fortunately, carried me through my dismay at finding only a SINGLE mannequin in the city museum.

The highlights:

We went to a “Han,” which is a collection of covered shops with a courtyard in the middle. Before working through the shops, we sat and had a hot drink. This is the sugar bowl.
At the Han, we bought a few tablecloths from this woman. Her other customer there is 15 and speaks a little bit of English. Like, enough for her to tell me how old she is.
This woman has a shop in which she carries out the craft of making hand stamps from wood and then using them, in a variety of motifs, to decorate textiles. You’d better believe I walked out with a scarfy-table-covery thing from her. She was warm but reserved, and anyone who’s ever tried to strike up a conversation with my husband or kids without putting in some time first knows that I have a distinct affinity for the Warm But Reserved individuals of this world.
More of her carved hand stamps.
At the grocery store, we bought a few things to have later for dinner in our hotel rooms. This lad was employed to be Sample Guy. He was handing out samples of Cig Kofte, which is essentially little squeezed balls of bulgur and red pepper paste wrapped in lettuce leaves, with lemon squeezed over the top.
Sample Guy would squeeze the Cig Kofte off this heap. Pre-packaged (but still with finger marks in ’em) Cig Kofte balls are available at the front of the display. We bought a pack. NUMMY dinner.
At the museum in town, I took a liking to this guy. He’s the most powerful of the Hittite gods, as he’s the storm god. He didn’t scare me one. effing. bit. BRING IT ON, STORM GOD.
Read the sentence about “the most striking tradition.” I wish everyone could do this, whether through prayer or some other formation of words, every day.
MANNEQUIN! My mannequin. In the museum, this guy was set up to demonstrate exactly the hand stamping craft we’d just seen in the Han, from that sweet, reserved woman. This guy was reserved in his own way; I think it’s because his wife left him twelve years ago.
I’m nuts for the Ottomans (who were ascendant from roughly the 13th C until 1924) because they understood that ornate could still be tasteful. Take, for instance, this MASCARA CONTAINER.
Friends, I cannot tell you how insanely nuts I am for what I call, using the technical Turkish words, “Ottoman jinglers.” All their earrings and headpieces and necklaces are made from copper and silver and have swingy, jingly stuff dripping off them, and pretty much I want to stuff every last bit of this bodily decoration into a pillowcase and then run up the mountain with them and hide out in a cave forever with my treasures, trying them on and then dancing a little bit and then twirling in circles and then singing and then telling them to “hush” and then wrapping them around my wrists and head and neck and waist and then eventually hoping a friend stops by so I can start it all again.
The only thing that could make Ottoman Jingler Fest even better would be if we all wore these hamam shoes while we twirled. Ottoman women wore them in what we call the “Turkish bath.” Shorthand: these are the first flip-flops.
The only thing that shuts me up about my Ottoman jinglers and fancy hamam shoes is the sight of a war club. Because then I have to sing-talk, like Rex Harrison in MY FAIR LADY, “War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. HUH. I’ll say it again.”
You guys are probably all, “Wow, Jocelyn is a bit nuts about her mannequins and jinglers and war clubs,” but I’d argue in my defense that at least my name’s not Christinae. Talk about a drama queen.

The only other part of the day I want to share with you is this video. As we were checking out of our hotel, suddenly music started thrumming on the street outside. We went out and got to watch the city’s school kids practicing their parade for an upcoming national holiday celebration. This was a pretty hotshot “practice,” if you ask me.

Anyhow, the video lets you see some Turks and hear some Turkish and listen to some rockin’ tunes. I know it goes on for awhile, but I couldn’t help myself.

You see, I get revved up about mannequins and jinglers and war clubs, but

I’m also crazy for drums.

If you care to share, click a square:

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Published by Jocelyn

There's this game put out by the American Girl company called "300 Wishes"--I really like playing it because then I get to marvel, "Wow, it's like I'm a real live American girl who has 300 wishes, and that doesn't suck, especially compared to being a dead one with none."

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6 Comments

  1. Wow, some ‘rehearsal’! Loved the first group of Rockette-wannabees. Also the goose-stepper leading the flags, but not one group following could march in step. Tokat must be a large town to field so many schoolkids.
    I’ve followed you since before Turkey. Love, love virtual travel. Thank you for showing a place I’ll likely never see in person.

  2. Amazing that they just shut down the road for a “rehearsal”. I love seeing what everyone is wearing. We get so many videos showing only the covered women. Nice to see real life.
    I am not sure that those flip flops would flip or flop, but the concept is wonderful! We all think alike, even back to the Ottomans!
    And, I can just picture you all covered in the jingly stuff. As you run through the streets of Duluth.

  3. The guy leading the flag bearers? A refugee from the Ministry of Funny Walks.

    I loved that first group of girl doing their routine — such precision. They could give lessons to later groups, who were clearly attempting to *march* but lacked any clear idea of what is means to keep in step. (former marching band member here)

    And I wish our politicians in Washington and Madison would do that same pledge every morning to engage with honest business.

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