Tag Archives: Constantinopolitan Greeks

From Ahval: “Rediscovering and re-evaluating the new Turkey” by Constantinopolitan Greek analyst Hercules Millas: Erdoğan and “Christianophobia” — yes, you read right — and the “limited ingredients” we have to work with.

6 Dec

Not optimistic, my emphases:

What is new is not the negative image of the West; “Christianophobia” in the East is as old as the Ottomans and it is the flip side of “Islamophobia” of the West. These prejudices are the historical legacies of centuries-long crusades and jihads. What is sad is that the parties see only what lies in front of their eyes; they do not look at a mirror.  It is also heartbreaking that paranoia cannot be demonstrated to the obsessed. There is also a high probability that Erdoğan’s extreme anti-West rhetoric is not a tactical choice, but a sincere conviction. 

The meaning attributed to the persistently used term “international law” is probably the most indicative sign of the big changes that have taken place in Turkey as of late: it is a self-proclaimed and nationally interpreted “justice” and “our right”. In other words, this is a blatant nationalist declaration of arbitrariness with which “international” law is openly defied on a “national” basis.    

If this is the situation, i.e., if in Turkey there is a deep anti-Western conviction and a nationalist alliance, then an expectation of reinstalling Turkey of the past may prove to be a chimera. The changes that occurred in Turkey in the last few years are not some “manoeuvres on policies”; the core body of decision-making has been replaced. The old state has been toppled.

This is a new Turkey that needs to be re-discovered and re-evaluated. Limited ingredients necessitate new recipes. 

See whole article: “Rediscovering and re-evaluating the new Turkey

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Bravo coffee’s silly Politisses commercial

22 Nov

I like that they dress the women up in a way that recognizes Constantinopolitan Greeks’ deep, deep bourgeoisness and αστισμό — perhaps the most precious thing we lost through that community’s destruction. But Polites didn’t talk with that weird accent and that thick Turkish “λ”. They spoke perfect, accentless Modern Greek.

Anyway, I guess it’s significant and positive that they remain an archetype Greeks are still conscious of.

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“İstanbullu Rumlar” — Greeks of Istanbul; and a Politike Kouzina addendum

15 Nov

The photos don’t say much, but they do capture the smart, urbane joy of Constantinopolitan life; and begs the question: did Greeks have a special sensory feel for the pleasures of Istanbul life, or did Greeks themselves generate that joy, now sorely missing from the contemporary city and its overgrown vulgarity?

Plus, dress and hairstyles look kind of early to middle 60s. Meaning that after the repeated blows of Varlık Vergisi in 1942-43, the Pogrom of September 6-7, 1955 and the Deportations of Istanbul Greeks in 1964-1965 (subject of incredibly moving scene in Tassos Boulmetis‘s film A Touch of Spice (Πολίτικη Κουζίνα/Politiki Kouzina/Istanbul Cuisine — see video at bottom), Greeks still knew how to have a good time in their beloved City.

And the scene from Politike Kouzina, with the family, deported and once settled in Athens, waits for the grandfather to come from Istanbul for a family wedding:

“I’ll tell you something and get it into your thick heads. Grandpa won’t come tomorrow and never intended to. Grandpa wouldn’t come to Greece even if Aemilios was marrying a film star. Grandpa hasn’t come all these years because he didn’t want to. He would never leave the City. None of us would, for anything in the world…

“Constantinople was called the City because it was the most beautiful city in the world.”

[My emphases]

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Photo: C-Town, the Grande Rue, Μεγάλη Οδό — Some of the cleaning up that the AKP has done during the process of turning Pera into a garish, overlit, Gulfie, kerchiefed Disneyland, is not all that bad.

13 Sep

The great Greek theater and film star, Elle Lambete, died today 37 years ago — and an aside about Alexandrian Greeks

3 Sep

One of the first posts on this blog — Egypt: The Other Homeland — mentions her.

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Patricia Storace‘s Dinner with Persephone (along with Patrick Leigh Fermor‘s Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece) is one excellent book that I recommend to all friends who are planning on visitting Greece and want to know what to read.

At one point Storace writes:

“Greek is not a voluptuous language, or a lilting one, but stony and earthy, a language full of mud, volcanic rock, and glittering precious stones…”

Listen to Lambete beautiful recitation of Cavafy’s “The City” and you’ll know what she means:

Η Πόλις

Είπες· «Θα πάγω σ’ άλλη γη, θα πάγω σ’ άλλη θάλασσα.
Μια πόλις άλλη θα βρεθεί καλλίτερη από αυτή.
Κάθε προσπάθεια μου μια καταδίκη είναι γραφτή·
κ’ είν’ η καρδιά μου — σαν νεκρός — θαμένη.
Ο νους μου ως πότε μες στον μαρασμόν αυτόν θα μένει.
Όπου το μάτι μου γυρίσω, όπου κι αν δω
ερείπια μαύρα της ζωής μου βλέπω εδώ,
που τόσα χρόνια πέρασα και ρήμαξα και χάλασα.»

Καινούριους τόπους δεν θα βρεις, δεν θάβρεις άλλες θάλασσες.
Η πόλις θα σε ακολουθεί. Στους δρόμους θα γυρνάς
τους ίδιους. Και στες γειτονιές τες ίδιες θα γερνάς·
και μες στα ίδια σπίτια αυτά θ’ ασπρίζεις.
Πάντα στην πόλι αυτή θα φθάνεις. Για τα αλλού — μη ελπίζεις—
δεν έχει πλοίο για σε, δεν έχει οδό.
Έτσι που τη ζωή σου ρήμαξες εδώ
στην κώχη τούτη την μικρή, σ’ όλην την γη την χάλασες.

The City

You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried as though it were something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I happen to look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”
 
You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you. You will walk
the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods,
will turn gray in these same houses.
You will always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere else in the world.

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And if you can see the documentary posted: Egypt: The Other Homeland by Giorgos Augeropoulos and Al Jazeera about the story of Alexandrian Greeks. It’s really beautiful; I remember I first posted it on Erev Pesach in 2012 and introduced the post with: “Another people’s exodus from Egypt”. Plus, it’s good to remember the positive aspects of our long historical relationship with Egypt at times like this. I think it’s particularly noteworthy that one of the doc’s subjects talks about how Greeks slowly and steadily starting leaving Egypt because they felt there wouldn’t be any room for them in the nationalist and statist revolutionary Egypt of Nasser, but it was striking that “…we never felt fear” in Egypt.” Contrast that with the chronic low-level fear — punctuated with moments of real terror — Greeks in Istanbul lived with throughout the twentieth century…

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Write us: with comments or observations, or to be put on our mailing list or to be taken off our mailing list, contact us at nikobakos@gmail.com.

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