|A Rug, A Photo, A Family Home
Traces of History, and Inshallah, in Turkey
Inshallah means God willing, and it implies an accepting attitude toward fate. That was an unquestioned part of Viviane Waynes heritage, and it affected her view of life. She is an offspring of Sephardic Jews who both came from Turkey, where their families had lived for generations since fleeing the Spanish Inquisition.
There were many tales told about the old country as Viviane Wayne grew up. The stories she heard were romantic and exotic, about the sacred mosques and the seraglio of Topkapi. The lore included the beauty of intricate rugs, the exhilarating marketplace, the legendary Turkish baths. On a more personal level, there were stories about extended family, their family, and the history of her people. It was natural that she longed to travel to Turkey to better understand her roots, and her parents, and herself, as well to find a certain house on a certain island where her paternal grandparents had lived.
But whether or not she would get to Turkey was up to whatever power decided such things Inshallah. However, Viviane married a practical and positive American who believed in making things happen, and with his encouragement, the couple made their pilgrimage to Turkeynot once, but twice. InshallahIn Pursuit of My Fathers Youth is about their trips to the land of Vivianes roots, and what she found there.
Inshallah is an exciting travel narrative, full of lost luggage, minimal accommodations, cajoling vendors, crowds, and inconvenience; full of beauty and excitement and romance; full of fond family always ready to drop everything to welcome her and her husband. And these family members are eager to talk about family, especially about Vivianes parents.
Inshallah is enriched by the history of the city known as Byzantium and Constantinople and Istanbul, and by the scenery of the surrounding mountains and the Bosphorus. We learn about a chapter of the Diaspora that brought Jews to Turkey, and we learn about modern political unrest. We spend time as tourists but also as family members. Viviane luxuriates in the 18th century Turkish bath where her mother had gone as a youth, and they visit the bewitching mosques and the Topkapi. And at last, they find that house, the home of Vivianes grandparents, where the father she knew for too few years grew up.
The house is empty, in disrepair. But in a passage that reads like the denouement of a mystery story, she discovers letters and documents and then photographs, the best one a portrait of her father as a young man. We realize that a quest has been completed. And so Viviane and her husband go home to America with memories, insights, a rug, a photograph, and a resolve to return again to TurkeyInshallah.
Viviane Wayne is a travel writer and poet whose work has appeared frequently in the San Francisco Examiner, the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and other journals. When not traveling the globe, she writes from home in Newport Beach, California.
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