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The Medallion - Ch2a

by DrSax 

Posted: 07 January 2006
Word Count: 1027
Summary: First part of Ch2 - characters, atmosphere, dialogue and syntax/grammar.

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2 Wednesday Noon

First he thought they were walking to where she had parked her car but then Gül suggested they take a taxi. She explained that it was difficult to park near the Covered Bazaar. Alp dutifully flagged a cab. A locally built Fiat, its registration was boldly displayed on the side panels and roof. Painted yellow like their counterparts in the US, Alp noticed some taxis even had black chequered bands.

Although he was relieved to be out of the office, Gül’s posture added to Alp’s growing uneasiness over Sait’s odd behaviour. She appeared to be leaning away, her handbag firmly in between them on the back seat.

“You seem hard on the go,” Alp remarked, glancing over at her.

“Thanks for making the time.”

“Yes, we are preparing the summer collection for next year,” Gül said. Her brief smile had an air of self-satisfaction.

“Do your customers visit often?” Alp continued politely. Since Kemal’s clients were also in town he hoped his question was topical.

“Only if they are unhappy with the production samples, or want some changes made,” Gül laughed a little disparagingly.

Alp wondered if he had made a mistake.

“Europeans are not as well organised as they would want us believe,” she added before he could think of a new topic. Alp understood that back in the office Gül had been dismissive of her customers rather than mollifying the production manager.

“It’s an ideal, not a fact,” Alp agreed. “Everyone makes mistakes.”

“Well, this is Turkey. They assume it’s us.”

“That’s politics,” Alp offered, with what he hoped was his best smile. “Blame the other party.”

“It’s not very honest,” Gül objected sullenly.

The taxi bounced along the wide uneven road from Nişantaş toward Dolmabahçe where the terraces of the main soccer stadium shared a view of the Sea of Marmara with a gasworks and a palace. Hanging on to the headrest of the passenger seat, Alp recalled having visited the palace, but not what he had seen. Modelled on Versailles, it stood on the shores of the Bosporus, an ornate clock tower adorning its quayside.

“Can you drive more slowly, please?” Gül asked the driver.

They were passing the farm that clung stubbornly to the hillside below an amphitheatre. Alp recalled it was called the Little Farm and wondered if the owner would ever sell up. He turned to ask Gül but at the last moment changed his mind. He did not want to appear to be remarking on the quaint, it would only make him seem condescending, a European.

“Kemal is doing well, isn’t he?” Alp offered when the driver had taken his foot off the accelerator pedal and enabled him to relax his grip.

“We work hard,” Gül admitted after a moment. “You can make a very good living in Turkey, if you know how.”

“Sure looks it,” Alp almost sighed.

“Don’t you find it difficult in Britain?”

“No,” he hesitated, thinking he could sense where this was heading. Perhaps if he generalised she would let him be. “Now that the unions have been defeated, I expect things will continue to improve.”

There was a brief silence.

Alp decided his remark had been over her head. Gül probably knew little or nothing about British politics. The taxi had climbed around the stadium and was threading its way through the traffic toward Karaköy, where the Golden Horn and the Bosporus met the Sea of Marmara, shaping Istanbul’s harbour.

“Kemal says the English are quite insular,” Gül persisted.

“It can seem so,” Alp had to accept. If you insist on remaining foreign he wanted to say. He glanced over. Gül seemed to be studying him.

“You don’t mind?” she asked with a smile.

“Not really,” Alp hesitated again, but decided he was fed up with her attitude. “In my line of work it doesn’t matter where you came from,” he told her, more firmly than he had intended. “It’s what you do that counts. Computers and software are still very much a frontier. Everybody’s welcome, if you can cut it.”

It was Gül’s turn to look away.

“You’re very British,” she finally smiled, making Alp wonder what it was in what he had said that made her think so.

“Look, I know Kemal wasn’t happy in Britain,” he told her. “As I said, maybe it’s because I’m in computers. It seems to matter little whether or not I played cricket at school.”

“Everybody here plays football,” Gül replied stiffly.

Yeah, but not soccer, Alp wanted to retort, his frustration mounting – they were conversing in Turkish though. And, anyway, it would have been rude. “Kemal was very good,” he nodded. “Does he still play?”

“He watches the football matches on TV.”

“I’m sure,” Alp looked out of the window. They were stuck in traffic on a cobbled hill. “Where are we?” he asked.

“Bab-ı Âli,” Gül informed him, trying to peer ahead. The traffic seemed to clear at that moment and they moved.

Bab-ı Âli, the Sublime Porte of Ottoman times, Alp recalled in an attempt to put his mind to something factual. It was where the executive offices of the grand vizier had been. But that was all he knew about that. Still, they were not far from the Covered Bazaar. In a little while they turned right into a narrow street crowded with people and vehicles, coming to a stop where it turned ninety degrees.

When he had paid the driver, Gül led Alp through the courtyard of a mosque that exited into a teeming warren of streets. He had not been this way before – at least not that he could recall. Gül turned into a doorway leading into another courtyard, a smaller one. Alp saw the building which enclosed it must be part of the mosque. The minaret and copper clad dome were clearly visible above the smaller, exposed brick domes of the building. He recalled most mosques had commercial buildings, the rent enabling their upkeep. The courtyard they were in had a pair of two storey buildings within it, bisected by an alley that extended around them.

Gül entered one of the buildings; Alp followed.

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Comments by other Members

Cornelia at 15:54 on 20 January 2006  Report this post
You seem to have got that funny punctuation problem again.


DrSax at 14:14 on 22 January 2006  Report this post
I have corrected it, but oddly enough when I first put it up and went through it to separate the paragraphs it looked all right.

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