As I’ve said before, something interesting always happens when someone asks me to take a photo. Today as I was hurrying from one place to another near Galatasaray Lisesi, a man called out at me, but what was unusual was that he did so in English. He asked me why I wasn’t taking his photo. This is, real street life, he said, pointing to himself. I told him I’d be delighted. He saluted me with his can of Efes Xtra. What followed was one of the most real conversations I’ve had in a long time. Sedat grew up in Germany, but is Turkish. He speaks flawless German, or so he told me, and I had no reason to believe he exaggerated. His English was near perfect, though he wasn’t for a moment proud of it. He asked about where I was from and found out my mother was Scottish. Then he told me about how he’d had a Scottish girlfriend, who now owns a hostel in Kekova. They traveled all around for two years and I could tell by the way he described her, he loved her. He told me he understood why she left him to settle down, and I could see he was sincere. Apparently she sends him letters and money from time to time, and that he misses her but doesn’t want to be dependent on her. It’s not pride, so much as self-worth. He told me about his love for Çıralı and Olympos on the Mediterranean, but that if he goes there he can’t afford beer. I had plans to go shoot and try out a pide place, but there was something about Sedat that kept me rooted to the spot. Finally I decide there was no need to rush, and sat down next to him. He tried to give me the piece of foam he sat on, but I told him I wasn’t cold. He told me that the worst thing about being on the street wasn’t asking for money, though that was difficult, it was that there weren’t enough people who would stop and talk to him. We agreed that asking for help, even if it’s for another beer, isn’t easy. He said sometimes he found it hard to find space to be alone when he needed to cry. As he was talking I couldn’t help but wonder how such a well educated man could end up in his situation. There had to be more than drugs and alcohol. He has kicked the drugs, he said, but still drinks. I believed him. Then he told me about a Canadian doctor he met, who helped him when he was still addicted to drugs. She offered him her number and help anytime. He said however he doesn’t like to take more than he needs, and now he is only a drinker. I believed him. He told me that he had been married once and had a daughter. He thought about them every day. They died in a car accident, he said. His daughter was so beautiful, he told me, and so was his wife. Then he told me to talk to my daughter just as I was talking to him, no different, and then she would know me for who I was. I asked him if it would be all right if I shared his story. He said, absolutely. And I believed him. When I repeated how sorry I was for his loss, he told me that it was 25 years ago, a lifetime ago. I didn’t believe him.
I was so happy to see your face today, Sof. I can’t tell you how much.