• January 18th, 2013


    Dear Sof,

    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.





    Posted in People | | 5 Comments


  • Joy @My Turkish Joys 01.18.2013  

    What a touching story! It sounds like you really made his day. People do just need others to talk to sometime. My Turkish is so-so, but every now and then I’ll have a good conversation with a taxi driver. I’ve heard the same thing from them, they just want someone to talk to them, as they drive around all day and not very many passengers actually engage with them!

  • sam  

    It’s really sad when you see old people on the street .. They should have a home and a family to go to ..

  • A close friend of mine embodies peace, serenity, kindness. She is very familiar with the homeless people in the area where she works. She noticed recently that one of her ‘guys’ wasn’t at his usual spot. She went back week after week (Thursdays were her regular visiting day), then she got very worried. She knew a woman from Kanata who would come into the city on Wednesdays to visit with all the homeless people, so on the following Wednesday my friend went looking for this woman. When my friend found her, she told her that her street friend had died. My friend was devastated. She had even missed the memorial. She wrote a lovely tribute to him on Facebook, and included this link, about another street friend who had passed away I had no idea that this ‘family’ of street people existed. And I certainly have forgotten that they are PEOPLE, above all else. Innes, I commend you for taking the time to sit and listen to this man tell his story – and for sharing it with us here. HUGS

  • Eren  

    One winter night, I was on my way back from Leuchars to London and I was supposed to take a night bus from Edinburgh. I arrived to the city by train late at night and got lost looking for the bus terminal. It was a very cold winter night and all the shops were closed. There was no one around to ask for directions. I got quite nervous. Then I saw a homeless guy sitting on the pavement. I approached him for help. He was a very jolly man with kind eyes and with a big smile (with no teeth). I immediately knew I could trust him. He walked with me to the bus terminal and accompanied me until the time of departure. We talked about everything…daily life…life…Then the time for me to leave came…We waved each other goodbye until I saw the last bit of him from the bus. Since then I always try to say hi and ‘Nasılsınız?’ whenever I see a homeless person on the street.

  • I.A.W.  

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Eren. The kindness of people living on the street is something we should all experience and extend to one another. It’s ironic that people who do have homes don’t always know how to extend the same hospitality as those who don’t.


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