Once again it is almost 3am, which seems to be my standard blog writing time. So here goes…
I went to Taksim today in search of a new subject. Bürde, my interpreter, and I scoured the Istikal in search of street performers who were willing to be interviewed. We were, I think, pretty successful. I found two potential subjects: one that I really want to do, but might have trouble doing, and the other I think will doable but challenging in other ways. So I have decided to pursue both and see which one works out the best.
The first is a 13 year-old boy whom I will call “C”. He and his 7 year-old sister, “T” were playing a toy flute to earn money (charity). The first time we saw them, we stood and watched for a bit. My goal was to see if there was an adult with them before I approached them. While we were watching, a man walked up and grabbed the flute out of the boy’s hands and kept on walking and the kids ran after him. I figured that he must have been a family member, but I later found out that he wasn’t. Out of curiosity, I asked a store keeper if he knew the kids and if they had an adult that came with them when they “performed” and he replied that they had no adult. So we kept on walking and searching.
We came across the kids again and this time approached them and asked if they were ok and if they were with an adult. They gave us the same reply as the storekeeper – no adult. So I told them that I was a journalist studying in Istanbul and I wondered if they could talk to me for a while. They agreed. I took them to a cafe and bought them lunch and the interview began.
It turns out that the 13 year-old boy is playing his toy flute on Istikal everyday for up to 14 hours a day trying to earn money to support his entire family. At the same time he is watching over his little sister. Their father is in jail and their mother is terribly crippled and this little boy is the only person in that family that makes any money. The kid told me that he earns approximately TL 25-30/day, which is about $20. He told me he’s been harassed and beaten on more than one occasion and that the police give him a hard time because he’s illegally playing for money. But this kid still insists on being on Istikal everyday in order to get the money his family desperately needs.
It was hard for me to not be shocked by the information I received. I knew that this as not uncommon, but to hear it come from a child’s mouth was heart breaking. The boy is the same age as my son and working harder and carrying more responsibility than most of the adults I know, including me. His family’s survival depends on him. That’s a lot of pressure for a child to endure. He amazed me.
I intend to pursue more interviews with the kids, but I am hesitant to rely on them to get my assignment done because they are children and may not be totally reliable. Regardless I want to learn as much about them as I can and photograph and video them as much as possible. It’s hard for me to maintain a certain level of detachment when children are involved. The mother in me wants to grab them and hug them and tell them what amazing children they are. But I guess all I can really do is buy them a few lunches and get to know them.
My second subject is a woman named Janset Karavin. She was also performing on the Istikal only she performed a pantomime. She will probably be the subject that I rely on to get this piece done, not only because she’s an adult, with a phone and seems willing to do it, but also because I think her performances will make for great visuals in a multimedia piece. She was an interesting character. She’s a writer and has published one book, the first in a trilogy, and is about to publish her second. She is part of a pantomime troop that works to bring interest back to the arts. And she performs routines on the Istikal several times a week. Tomorrow I will be interviewing with her again and then photographing and shooting video of her performance.
T-minus 6 days ’til the due date and I am feeling the pressure. If one of these two don’t pan out, I am am going to have a very hard time starting over again and actually getting everything done.
Wish Me Luck 🙂
Peace and Love.