Wedding in Ephesus

The story

Towards the beginning of the year, Farida and I thought that this year we should hold some kind of ceremony to mark our commitment to life together. Then there was the question: where? We decided we needed two: Australia was good, but maybe my daughters Lara and Bella wouldn’t be able to attend, so we thought we might have a small preliminary ceremony when we next met. But we never made any decisions or announcements.

When Lara and Bella and I decided to meet up in Turkey, I decided Ephesus would be nice for this ceremony. But then as Farida and I started looking at organising this, it started to get very complicated, with all kinds of paperwork, and approvals from government departments, and so it looked like it wouldn’t happen. So we settled on Plan B: Farida and I would say some words to each other, Lara and Bella would be there, and that would be their participation in some yet-to-be-determined future event.

However, I didn’t count on Lara and Bella’s knack for making friends. They met a local entrepreneur named Aydin; he got wind of our intention; he declared that we must organise this properly; and within 24 hours we had imam, bridesmobile, wedding singer, wedding feast, several guests, hairdresser and barber.

When we arrived at the library of Ephesus, we also had about 100 curious tourists also keen to become involved, taking pictures, applauding and trying to get into the photographs.

Here are a few pictures from the day, and after. (And apologies to all for making the announcement after the event!)

Saturday 21st August 2010

David’s ticket into the Ephesus site.

Farida isn’t always made up as a Turkish bride. Here she is on the right. Lara is on the left.

Aydin insisted both of us get properly scrubbed me. Here’s David at that Turkish barber. There they shaved (using a cutthroat razor), burned, plucked and trimmed every stray bit of hair on his head.

Turkish barbering includes… Turkish face massage!

David waiting in the hotel.

Bella and David figure out a really useful way to pass the time.

The bridemobile, complete with message number places covering up the real ones, bouquet, and…

… hearts on the back.

Our friend and gentil organisateur Aydin points out features of the bridemobile.

David walks towards the library at Ephesus.

Aydin escorts Farida.

This time, David is attended in the waiting by Lara.

In retrospect, it seems that Farida was accompanied by the the best man, and David by two bridesmaids!

At last.

Lara assists with a grin.

Next to Farida is Murselin, the wedding singer, who is taking on the role of imam. Since an imam is simply anyone who is learned in the Qur’an, anyone can do it. Standing below is Ramadan, who is playing the part of prompt: whispering the lines to Murselin, when Murselin forgets.

And here, we just speak to each other.

The applause marks the end… kind of.

Because a crowd of tourists from all over the world has gathered, and some start shouting “kiss, kiss!”

Others take photographs. We may end up all over facebook, flickr and picasa.


An unexpected hug.

Then, with nowhere in particular to go, we sit reflectively for a while.

I don’t remember why I brought my guitar, but I did. Bella plays a tune, and the tourist crowd applauds.

A bit of history…

In the land that is now Turkey, a wide marble road slopes down to one of the largest libraries of the ancient world. Between 12,000 and 15,000 scrolls were housed in the grand Library of Celsus in the Roman city, Ephesus.

Designed by the Roman architect Vitruoya, the library was built in memory of Celsus Polemeanus, who was a Roman senator, General Governor of the Province of Asia, and a great lover of books. Celsus’ son, Julius Aquila, began the construction in 110 AD. The library was completed by Julius Aquila’s successors in 135 AD.

Celsus was buried beneath the ground floor in a lead container inside a marble tomb. A corridor behind the north wall leads to the vault.

This library is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus.

The scrolls of the manuscripts were kept in cupboards in niches on the walls. There were double walls behind the bookcases to prevent the them from the extremes of temperature and humidity. The capacity of the library was more than 12,000 scrolls. It was the third richest library in ancient times after the Alexandra and Pergamum.

The facade of the library has two-stories, with Corinthian style columns on the ground floor and three entrances to the building. There is three windows openings in the upper story. They used an optical trick that the columns at the sides of the facade are shorter than those at the center, giving the illusion of the building being greater in size.

The statues in the niches of the columns today are the copies of the originals. The statues symbolize wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete).

The building faces east so that the reading rooms could make best use of the morning light.

Waiting to leave Ephesus.

Yet another uninvited guest… this time canine.

We departed for Sirince, in the hills behind Selcuk, for the wedding feast. A little more history…

Şirince was settled when Ephesus was abandoned in the 15th century but most of what one sees today dates from the 19th century. There is a story that the village was settled by freed Greek slaves who named the village Çirkince (meaning “Ugly” in Turkish) to deter others from following them. The village’s name was changed to Şirince (meaning “Pleasant”) in 1926 by the governor of Izmir Province.

We were accompanied by a train of cars, all beeping their horns in venerable Turkish wedding fashion.

Stopping for photos along the way…

The full wedding posse (except Lara and Bella, taking the photo.)

Our friends take us first to a rocky peak, high above the landscape.

Aydin scribes F ♥ D on the rocks.

Two bottles of wine, and glasses, appear.

The sun sets.

While in the East, the moon rises at the same time.

Climbing the hill towards the site of the wedding feast. That’s Murselin, acting as imam before, now reverting to his core profession: wedding singer.

The instrument he carries is called, we think, the bağlama.

The feast.

The dance.

The wedding party went off to a nightclub in Kusadesa. David and Farida stayed in Sirince.

Breakfast in the hills.

An Ottoman era school building converted into a restaurant.

Back in Selcuk for a few more days.

Bella and Lara in front of the Hotel Bella.

David and Farida wondering if they should buy and renovate a house in Selcuk.

Back in Istanbul.

Lara tries out an emerald and diamond necklace valued at one million dollars.

And we all ponder the accidental dadaism of this poem found in a restaurant menu.

After Lara and Bella left for Europe, David and Farida went to the Spice Market.

The Rustem Pasa mosque, lined with tiles from Izmir.

A moment of reflection.

A final drink on the top of the Seven Hills Hotel, from which one can see the Hagia Sophia in one direction, the Blue Mosque in another, and the Bosphorus in the third.

One of our Turkish friends said:

This was the best wedding I ever attended. Normally, these things are planned for six months in advance, and by the time of the event, everyone is really stress. In this wedding, nothing was planned, and no-one was stressed.

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