Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturday, May 05, 2012 - 3 comments

Celebrity Stalking #2: Fatmagül's Cafe


Specimen #2 in our Celebrity Stalking Series is actually more a place than a person.  For the past two years I’ve been following the show “Fatmagülün Suçu Ne?” starring Beren Saat, one of my favourite Turkish actresses.  In the show, Fatmagül runs a cozy, colourful little cafe called Gül Mutfağı (“Rose Kitchen”), and I decided it would be fun to try to find it and either a) watch them filming or b) sit down for lunch and çay and spend the afternoon writing there.
Having looked up the cafe online, I knew that it was a  real restaurant (as opposed to a set) called Bodrum Mangal (Bodrum Grill), and while I couldn’t come up with the address, I knew the general district it was in, so off I went.  
I still wasn’t feeling particularly energetic after my surgery, and was in the no-longer-coughing-but-still-exhausted stage of a cold, so I decided to take it slow and spend a lot of the day sitting down.  (When you’re sitting beside the Bosphorus, “sitting” is a decidedly delightful activity!)  

I took the bus as far as Çengelköy, grabbed a cheese and herb poğaça (a kind of pastry) from Komşufırın (my preferred Istanbul bakery) and sat down for çay with a sea breeze at Çınaraltı Tea Garden.  (“Çınaraltı” means “under the plane tree”, and with its shaded courtyard opening onto a fabulous view of the Bosphorus and the first bridge, it’s a favourite spot for sitting and sipping.  It’s especially popular for weekend breakfasts because you can bring your own food - hence my poğaça.)
Having gathered my strength and satisfied my “strong tea and salty air” craving at Çınaraltı, I took the bus a few more miles down the coastal road and got off in Anadolu Hisarı.  The neighbourhood’s name means “Fortress of Asia”, and its main road runs right smack through the middle of a crumbling-but-imposing stone fortress built in the early years of the Ottoman Empire.  When the characters in “Fatmagülün Suçu Ne?” first moved to Istanbul, they lived in this area, and from what I could tell from my research, my quarry, the restaurant, was nearby, too.  
Now, I have to admit, I felt a little bit “starstruck schoolgirl-ish” going off in search of the restaurant where some of my favourite fictitious characters work, so I was hesitant to ask for directions lest I get laughed at.  But after having searched unsuccessfully for more than half an hour, I gave in and asked a few locals who all shrugged and said they had no idea.  By this time, I was getting tired and hungry, and I knew I’d need to eat before I walked anymore.  
Instead of eating the stuffed grape leaves and cheesy börek I’d been dreaming about ever since I’d Googled the Bodrum Mangal, I headed for the cafe next to the house where Fatmagül and her family used to live.  I’d been there before once while on a hunt similar to this one and, again, hadn’t been able to watch them shooting (the crew was just setting up) but had been excited to see the house and the set from the road.  A potter, Hasan Usta, has his workshop on the property and the yard is full of clay pots of every shape and size.  The house appears to be empty, but the plastic-tent-turned-cafe next door (fittingly named “Potter Hasan Usta’s Tea Garden”) seemed a good spot to fill my stomach as well as hopefully gain some information on where I might locate the actual object of my search.  
As I sat and ate my cheese and pepperoni toast, I laughed to myself when I heard two other customers ask the waitress if the house next door was indeed “Fatmagül’s house.”  She must get that all the time.  This made me feel all the more sheepish when, after paying, I asked her if she knew where the Bodrum Mangal was.  She smiled patiently and explained that she knew it was “up the hill that way and in a bit.”  I was slightly disappointed when she said it was about a half hour walk, or a bus ride plus a bit of a walk.  She wasn’t sure if the bus went exactly that way or if I’d have to get off and walk some more, and she couldn’t really tell me in which direction.
I decided to chance it with walking and set off up the hill, but after only about 20 feet, I stopped.  I was feeling weaker than I wanted to admit, and suddenly this hill wasn’t feeling like such a good idea, even if it did potentially have famous people and a pretty garden and good tea at the end of it.  
By the time I got up there, I’d have less than half an hour to sit before I’d need to leave and go home, and that’s IF I actually found it right away.  It was the previous day’s Ara Güler Dilemma all over again - to spend a whole lot of time trying to meet someone or see something famous (but possibly disappointing) or to spend time with Istanbul, the city for which I long whenever I’m away.  
Perhaps as much as my not feeling well, the thought that this was the last time I’d be able to sit by the Bosphorus before heading back home caused me to change direction and propelled me back down the hill to the water.  I get to see Fatmagül’s cafe every Thursday night at 8.  But the opportunity to sit with a tulip glass full of steaming Turkish tea beside the body of water I love more than any other in the world is a rare treasure not to be squandered.
It seems that with me, when it comes down to it, I’ll choose “favourite and familiar” over “famous” every time.  And I’m okay with that.

3 comments:

this is a lovely post, though i didn't read word to word but still i could relate to your feelings and journey. I am from India and I am watching Fatmagul for first time, its been a month of airing and i am simply in love with it. The music, script, actors and ye the House....:) you have beautifully grasped the feeling of it... Thanks

Saumya

Well, next year I'm going to find places known from "Fatmagul" too :-) I've already found hotel in Ildir, house near Goksu river, Gul Mutfagi restaurant, hotel where they spend their first night in Istambul and Galata bridge. My research doesn't end up here. Now I have to find adress of Kadirs house in Çengelköy, building where Yasaran Holding was, and the beach where Fatmagul was raped... :-P

I saw the beach in Ildir, and Fatmagül and her brother's house from the first few episodes. I have one query - is the real Gül Mütfagi the one near Kavacik or the Bodrum Mangal in Anadolu Hisari?? Oh, and where exactly is the çengelkoy house???