Monday, January 21, 2013

to the fishmonger

Pedro and I settled on the Kumkapı fish markets by the Marmara Sea in Istanbul. It was a grey day— cold enough for your fingers to lock around your pencil, and your nose to be in constant need of a tissue. In between showers of icy rain, we split our time watching gulls and sketching fish, much to the delight and surprise of the burly fishmongers. They took turns bellowing "BUYRUNBUYRUN!" at potential customers, and hovering behind us tsking, while making hand gestures of approval.

Just as I became aware of a presence behind me, I received a heartfelt "Maşallah!" from one of the fishmongers. He asked if there was an equivalent expression in my language, and I replied that there wasn't— but assured him that I understood what it meant. Maşallah is hard to explain, but it's an expression of praise and appreciation, with the added benefit of warding off the evil eye.

We stood for nearly two hours, each of us working on our spreads—I could feel my knees protest, and goodness, it was cold, but then the sketch would absorb me, and I forgot. Every so often, a fishmonger would yell "Abi!" at Pedro (which means brother), wave at him to move, then hurl an arc of seawater upon his fish— the tail end of the arc landing where Pedro once stood. I was routinely bumped out of the way by customers, and narrowly avoided getting drenched by a sheet of water being emptied from a bowed awning. 


Zita said...

love your sketches :)

Anonymous said...

Very refreshing and unique blog!!!
Your pics bring nostalgia
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