Romani Alawites

In 2001 after a long walk, I arrived in the neighbourhood. I was searching for the last house at the edge of the peripheral city. It seemed like a rough area to wonder about. But threatening looks then turn into a welcoming conversation after the introduction of who am I and what I was doing in there. Three guys escorted me to a junkyard where I met Ali Dede. He was disassembling the junk metal parts of a fridge to sell it later. We sit together then he asked her wife if they have tea for a stranger. After that tea and a long talk, I was not a stranger in the neighbourhood anymore. He told me they are Romani Alawites. His daughter married a Romani guy then they start living in the same area. Two cultures interconnected as I never heard before. Both are keeping their customs and living next to each other. I needed to study both cultures and come back later. In total, I made three visits to the area in the following weeks. An invitation came from one of the guys who introduced me to Ali for a house gathering at night. It was in the house of a shoe painter who spent his last ten years in prison for murdering his wife. The house was very crowded, the walls covered with carpets with a strong smell of tobacco and raki mixed with a heavy odour of ten people sleeping on the floor of this very room. There was a guest from Istanbul, he was looking for his wife in Eskisehir. He told me she ran away with another guy. He left his older daughter to a chief officer and sold his baby girl to a German couple before coming to Eskisehir. He was not planning to go back to Istanbul soon. At least not as a free man. There was also a newly married young couple, which later told me they recognized my camera bag from the other day in the city centre. They wanted to steal it but then realized I’m a student and let it slip this time. A couple of weeks later I developed the films and made the small prints in the university darkroom to give them. When I called a little girl answered the phone. She told me that they are moving to another city and they are in a rush. The next day I went to the neighbourhood. This time, locked doors of empty houses greeted me. It was like a movie set after the production left.