IZ TV was filming a documentary on Hasankeyf. Aydin, at right, filmed me drawing Isil, at left, as she interviewed Buket and me. In the center, three young men and their grandmother held a sit-in. This half-hour program ran often and for years. I know because strangers would run up to me on the street- in Izmir, in Istanbul, in Antalya- and effuse about Hasankeyf.
I was there thanks to Celal Ögmen at Kalamar Restaurant in Kumkapi. My first year in Turkey, I designed Kalamar’s logo and drew pictures of the place while eating fish dinners. Never did I pay for one. The art has variously decorated the tablecloths, napkins, walls, brochures, ads, menus, business cards, waiters’ T-Shirts and the packet holding the refreshing towelette.
Celal and his throng of relative-employees are from Van, to the north of Hasankeyf. He originally wanted me to go and draw his birthplace, but found the protest train and sent me to Hasankeyf instead. During the IZ TV interview, I was able to give Kalamar Restaurant a well-deserved plug, in subtitles yet.
Hasankeyf is one of the most beloved places in Turkey. Covering it with water is considered sacrilege. Most people of Hasankeyf aren’t happy about losing the cave homes they’ve occupied for generations, either.There’s a fatalism about the town. Yet many townsfolk protested with us. Ozcan Yuksek, editor of Atlas, climbed up a radio tower and got a photo of all 374 of us cohorts standing around a huge sign: HANDS OFF HASANKEYF.Two guys sitting under a protest sign said in Turkish We will live under water if we have to. There are scuba tours of the fabulous mosaics at Zeugma, the ancient trading port now covered by Turkey’s damming of the Euphrates years ago. People fought there, too. But nobody thought they would take Hasankeyf.
Rocking the Cradle of Civilization in Hasankeyf NEXT: 11 IMAGINE