Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | July 22, 2010

friends at molly’s cafe

one nice thing about having a cafe is that my friends know where to find me.  yesterday was a really good example of that.

first, kelly came by and visited for a bit.  he is a literature professor at a university here.  he is from south carolina and has been here for about 7 years.  he was also a good friend to john, for whom we had the wake a few weeks ago, so we had some conversation about john.

while kelly was here, martin came in.  martin used to have the only talkshow in english here in turkey, but the obscure channel it was on changed their format and now he is preparing to do it freelance.  of course he had interviewed molly at molly’s cafe while he was doing it before!  unfortunately, the channel was so obscure that i never did see the show.  at any rate, martin is from canada too, most lately of vancouver, though he has been here for 8 years.  he is married to a charming young turkish woman.  he joined in the conversation with kelly.  one topic was slavery.  there were slaves in the ottoman empire but they often rose to very imfluential positions within the administration.  martin and i commented that there wasn’t slavery in canada, but as kelly pointed out, canada was not a major agricultural nation at that time.  i also told kelly that the underground railroad had some endpoints in canada.  when i was growing up in barrie, ontario, we often went swimming at a place called shanty bay, which i was told was one of those endpoints.  however, when i was a kid there were neither shanties nor black people.

around them my friend ahmet came in.  he is a good friend of a good friend.  then the conversation turned to cruise ships, as he has worked on cruise ships for the past few years and martin had done sound system work on some back in the day.

kelly left and martin left for a while, and then a family who had stayed in a tourist apartment on this street a couple of years ago stopped by. at that time i was living in the building next to my current cafe location  (at that time this whole building was vacant).  at any rate, my room was at the front, so i could see into their flat.  i was curious about them because the mother and young daughter were covered but they spoke perfect english.  i ran into them on the street one day and asked where they were from.  they were a little taken aback that a stranger would talk to them (and they had probably been in sultanahmet where tourists are often accosted by the touts), but the girl told me they were from canada.  this was before i had the cafe, so i actually got out a bit then and one day i was sitting in the tea garden at the tower when the father came by, so i invited him to sit.  he is lebanese and teared up when he talked about the troubles in his country and how he did not want his kids to see war.  one day i invited them over for coffee and we talked more, though not so deeply.  the father was in town last year and stopped by the cafe and then they made sure to stop by yesterday.  it was nice to see them, though i wonder how it is for the kids.  when they were over for coffee that day i asked the daughter how it was to go to school wearing a headscarf.  she laughed and said it was no problem because she went to a muslim school.  this time i asked her if she used facebook and she said she was not allowed to.  hmmm…  she is a bright young girl and i am curious about how her life will unfold.  i told them i had never even heard of muslims when i was growing up, let alone seen anyone wearing a headscarf  (not true– i saw some sort of peasanty italian and portuguese women wearing them in toronto lo these many years ago).

my colombian friend jairo has dropped in recently.  he is officially canadian now and lives here in istanbul for most of the year.  this morning some other canadians were here and were asking about apartments to rent for a week or so, so jairo might rent his flat to them and stay at a friend’s.  i was glad that this kind of connection would happen in molly’s cafe.

sometimes friends of friends come in.  some people from toronto who were friends of my oldest friend there came in specifically because paul had told them about my place.  a friend of a long ago work colleague also came in a few weeks ago.  so molly’s cafe is becoming internationally famous through the friend network.

and of course sometimes there are new friends.  a very interesting turkish woman stopped by yesterday morning and then came by in the evening for the music.  she told me she was 66 but i swear she looks maybe 50.  good genes perhaps… she certainly enjoyed the music and the conversation last night and i am sure she will be back.  i look forward to getting to know her better.

i must not forget to mention my old friends who visit me in istanbul and of course hang out at my cafe.  stefan was here recently and like everyone else was charmed with the kitties.   he had brought a lot of gourmet cat food for oscar, as he did not know about pasha or the kitties, so that got spread around. he always brings me chocolate (he lives in switzerland), so i am wearing that now…  he usually tweaks my sound system a bit (he gave it to me) and makes suggestions for the cafe, which i either ignore or think about.

my friend brad has not seen this version of the cafe, as last time he was here i was still in the old location.  he really enjoyed hanging out at molly’s cafe and i am hoping that he will make it this year to see the new place.

over these couple of years i have met a lot of people, of course.  tourists pass through and so do some regulars.  this past year a lot of erasmus students became regulars, but now they are mostly gone and in september there will be a new batch.  it’s really interesting to meet them and hear their perspective on istanbul and turkey.

i am sure i am leaving some people or groups out, but mostly i am thankful for all the friends, old and new, who support molly’s cafe.  i really could not do it without them.

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