26 July 2008

The Food Parcels Have Started Again……

Tan’s parents are here once more. I remember vividly their visit last year. Once I’d pointed out where all the herbs were hidden in the garden, a regular supply of delicious Turkish food would arrive at the front door. Indeed, such was it’s regularity that I don’t think we needed to cook for some 4 or 5 days one week. Esin, Tan’s mother was the creator of these wonderful dishes which, whilst Turkish in origin, made me recall the many wonderful holidays our family had in Corfu. Obviously cooking techniques and ingredients were similar throughout the eastern Mediterranean but it was terrific to taste food which I had not had for some 16 years. Ok, I’d eaten in Greek and middle eastern restaurants in London but there’s something special about home cooked food especially as you knew that your garden had provided some of the ingredients.

Esat, Tan’s father is blind but I didn’t know this for a day or so after his arrival. I’d watched him play with little Violet on the terrace making her scream with laughter and joy, her happy sounds floating over the short distance between our two homes.
Then I saw Tan leading Esat down to the edge of the pool where he promptly dived in and swam a few lengths before getting out. It was only when I saw him from a distance ‘playing’ with his white stick like others do with their worry beads which made me realise that he had impaired sight. Later on we were invited over for dinner and I found out that he was totally blind.

I was astounded that he could do all these things whilst not seeing anything. And very brave – can you imaging diving into a pool without having seen where it was, what shape it was and with only a description about it’s depth and length ?

That was last year. They arrived here again last Thursday and left on Tuesday – all too short a time to talk to a very interesting man who tells wonderful tales of life in ‘old Cyprus’ and who suffered his impairment whilst relatively young. Thankfully, before the accident he had witnessed life and retains memories of colours, shapes and most importantly his sons’ faces when they were young.

We had a long chat last night about life in Cyprus in the old days (Tan and his family are Turkish Cypriot) and how life then was vastly different from the lifestyle we lead today and take for granted. There was one fridge in Esat’s village so in order to keep things cold, people would lower their large green melons and other fruit and perishables down into their wells where the cold water would preserve, for a few days at least, the staple items which made up their diet. At a very young age he and presumably the other children in the village would have to work on the farms, collecting the crops and harvesting the grain but always mindful that machinery could take and arm or a leg off if you strayed in the wrong direction. It sounded a tough childhood but he spoke with affection for those long gone days.

Today, I think Esat is a happy man. He and Esin live in London and have three wonderful sons and a loving extended international family. He talks about life in the metropolis and how at 67 he enjoys his council run course in pottery making and sculpture. His latest project was to make a piggy bank, a bright blue rabbit which the children loved so much. I have to tell you that even with full sight I could not have come close to capturing the beauty of Esat’s rabbit.

So Esin and Esat have now left for London. We’ll miss them and we’ll miss their love of life and the obvious pleasure they get from having their family around them once again.

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