This Side of the Fishing Rod
In Kadikoy, one of Istanbul's desirable districts, in the neighbourhood of Fenerbahce Stadium and Yogurtcu Park, Kurbagali Creek makes its way to the sea, caught in a perpetual upheaval of restoration and urban gentrification. It is home to three rod fishers who have been clinging to their livelihoods here for years. The stories of Ilhan Mehin (67), Metin Anut (65), and Kayahan Unal converge in a shack overlooking the creek right where it meets Marmara sea.
Ilhan is one of those who don't have much to say when sober. After a few, however, one would find it hard to get a word in edgewise between the stories of his youth, of his contractor father, his fishing adventures, and many other exploits. He is possessed of an inner struggle that he keeps close to his chest. He always has a reason, a justification for things that go wrong. He always has hope, despite the odds.
Metin recounts his work around Bankalar Street, hauling cables for radio factories. That was before he had served in the Navy despite his complete lack of swimming skill, as naval rescue personnel no less. Around the creek he is nicknamed "Wholesaler". For about forty years he has been selling the fruits of their labor in his car, painted blue and yellow, in the colors of the local football team. His hopes for his ability to afford the next bottle of Raki is indexed on the weather and the fortunes of the other fishers.
Kayahan had first started fishing back when he was in college, but fishing was just their excuse. It was themselves that they cast into the sea as much as the line and the hook. Famous verses from poet Nazim Hikmet would dance along over the waves along with the smoke from their hand rolled cigarettes. Was fishing an escape from life, or an escape to it? He does not know the answer either. He knows that two and two don't always add up to four, but it is uncertain if he can account for a life lived with nary a care.