I’m not much good at portraits. I don’t want to keep the person in front of the lens waiting for any longer than necessary. I feel uncomfortable, that I am somehow objectifying them the longer I keep them waiting, the more I persist in getting a “better shot”. So usually, in my awkwardness but eagerness to have a picture, I only manage one frame.
And here is one. We never exchanged names.
She invited me into her home, so that I could take photographs of the ramshackle courtyard with the traditional stone work. The old house was divided up by three families. She wanted desperately to move out, and spoke of how it was not possible to use the courtyard for cooking or washing carpets or enjoying tea, as her neighbours had no neighbourly feeling. But the influx of Syrians had increased rents beyond any affordable measure for her. He husband worked in construction and was away in Erbil for two or three months at a time. Her eldest son was unemployed, her elderly mother’s health was ailing. She insistently offered me breakfast; I only accepted tea.
When I asked if I may take her photograph, she was surprised and a little embarrassed: “A photo? Of me? Looking like this?”
I think she looks beautiful.
A very cold, wind-swept Saturday afternoon spent in the company of friends seeing Gordion, and driving around what was once called ‘Phrygia’. My imagination (and hair) went wild.
The Monumentum Ancyranum (Ancyra Monument) is my favourite place in Ankara. It is a temple that was dedicated to the Emperor Augustus who was deified after his death in 14 AD. It was built between 20 - 25 AD. Its walls were once adorned with the Res Gestae Divi Augusti (The Deeds of the Divine Augustus) in both Latin and Greek.
It was recognised by Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, on his way to present his letter of credence to the court of Süleyman the Magnificent, who at the time was stationed in Amasya repelling a Persian attack. It is thanks to Busbecq we can read the Res Gestae Divi Augusti in its (almost) complete form today.
It is nice to walk around the temple and think that one of the first Western diplomats to the Ottoman court saw what I am seeing. And possibly felt the same heady excitement and admiration.