This morning was my last in Kars so, as Michael left to teach again, I began my usual trek thru the city streets. I was once again taken with the different clothing styles….everything from modern dress to women will Hijab’s around their head to women in full Burka’s.
I stopped at a couple of clothing stores and realized that they were “outlet” stores. In most cases there was only one of each item and there were no sizes on any of them. I looked but didn’t buy!! As you can see, there is a HUGE range of styles……
I was interested in the number of young people who were on the street this morning. Most of them were carrying two papers with them. The first was a certificate of some sort and the second looked like a report card to me. I was never able to find out what this was all about. You can see two of the boys holding them here….. Many students were getting ice cream from street vendors. I loved the long paddles that they used to dip the ice cream onto the cone……
At one point a long convoy of cars passed me, honking and holding colored scarves out of their windows. One car (the one pictured here) had a man playing a drum and another playing a typical Turkish pipe. I asked someone about what was going on, but no one knew…..
As I passed one open door, I recognized that clatter of sewing machines in use and found these embroidery machines going full bore…..
It was now about 11:30 and there was a short Call to Prayer. I was surprised by this since it was normally at 12:15. However, I knew that all Muslim’s are required to pray at the Mosque at some point on Fridays, and I knew that the Noon service was the major one so I decided that the additional “call” was just an early reminder.
The first thing that I noticed is that there were many rugs on the concrete outside of the Mosque. I remembered that Muhammet had told me that people would pray outside once the Mosque was full.
I had some sweet interactions with some of the older men while I was sitting there. One walked up to me and asked “English?” I answered “Yes”. Then he asked “Christian"?” and again I affirmed. He then pointed to the Mosque and said “Muslim”. Another gentleman motioned that I was welcome to join the service at the Mosque and another one insisted that his grandson greet me. Another 20-something came by and offered to go and get water for me to drink. They were all so kind!!
At one point an older man dressed in a long coat and different sort of hat walked up and into the Mosque. There was much bowing and hand shaking as he entered.
Today I noticed that the women were not entering thru the usual entrance to the side of the Mosque but were apparently going in thru another entrance on the back side of the Mosque.
As I watched, there was a steady stream of men flowing out of the “cleansing” area where they washed their hands and feet and into the Mosque courtyard. There were a number of them who had obviously used their handkerchiefs to dry their hands and they carried them in front of their bodies as they walked. …I assume to dry them before putting them back in their pockets. It was interesting to watch the solemn manner in which they walked with them held in front.
I saw one ritual that I have not been able to find out about. As the men would enter, there was a person who had a stick of something (looked like chap-stick) and he would place an “X” on the back of the entrant’s hand and then they would rub the back of their hand’s on their faces.
As more and more men gathered, they started sitting outside as well. I heard the microphone click on and the Imam began teaching, but the men just kept on talking with their friends. As more and more men arrived, I moved further up the stairs to a more discrete distance.
I would estimate that 1500 to 2000 men entered the Mosque while I sat there. Since each one took off their shoes and put them on the shelf, I cant imagine the chaos when they all stream out of the Mosque at the end of the service!!! One man brought his own bag to put his shoes in so I guess that might make it easier!!!
One funny thing that happened…….as I mentioned earlier, when I am walking around the city, I always carry my small point-and-shoot camera and normally leave it on. I found several photos where I had accidentally taken pictures of my foot or hand….nice life line……
I was met at the hotel by Dogan and Eiken and treated to yet another fabulous lunch. It started with the usual salads and bread…..
….and went on to a wonderful meat dish served over cubed bread and with a side of yoghurt, called Iskender Kebap. It was magnificent and we truly enjoyed our conversation with this wonderful couple…..
Michael returned to Kafkas University to give his last seminar of the course.
When dinner time rolled around, we really were not that hungry so we decided to return to Semazen for another Pide. It was just as good as the first time.
Before this arrived, the waiter came over and brought a napkin holder and set it on the table. My thought was that we already had one!! Then I realized that both would be needed to balance the Pide tray!!
Two young waiters came over and started talking to us in English and we had a wonderful time conversing with them.
When we were ready to leave we asked to take a photo of the Ayran “fountain” which keeps the yoghurt mixture frothy and aerated. This young man offered to pose for us…..