So, for the 12 days before Christmas, you are meeting the various Karagöz shadow puppet characters that roam around in my head. No, I am not a person with a major mental illness. No, I don’t really, really see puppets in my everyday life. Yes, I have found that all of the confusion and just generally new stuff that comes along with living in a cross-cultural marriage is well-conceptualized as many different little voices. I think the puppets have revealed themselves to me in order to help me to see how my partner may view things…or to help me think about how my in laws may view things, etcetera. These little puppets are having a great time while we are in the States – learning all about what goes on here and what the customs and practices are. These little puppets also love going back home to Turkey – and guide me all over the place. So, today, I want you to meet Esma, the hippie Karagöz shadow puppet.
Esma is a reserved young lady, despite her work as a member of the chorus of dancing ladies who always introduce and conclude Karagöz puppet shows. She spends the early morning hours meditating – and she is a master, or should I say a mistress, at this. While many of the other lady puppets have a strong personality – often speaking back to their partners or husbands – Esma has no need for this. She is a tranquil soul, who brings out the best moments in me. I guess this is why I started with her.
Esma, as I have come to know her slowly, is really and truly a hippie. I am not sure if there were hippies in the Ottoman Empire era from which she hails, but this lady’s love of nature, calm ways, penchant for meditating and use of herbal tinctures tells me she is of this general ilk. She also occasionally dies her hair a different color, usually pink, purple or green.
Esma is a “go with the flow” and “let the way become clear” kind of gal. She loves the color pink – and recently attended the Sultan of Nutcracker’s holiday ball in a dress made solely of bright, fuschia rose petals – of the softest (and most organic) variety, of course. She tells me “tabi canım, (of course, dear) it was organic! I will have none other out of respect for Mother Earth!”
Preferring Ada çayı (island tea) to rize çayı in the mornings after her meditation, Esma always uses agave nectar in lieu of massive amounts of sugar lumps, like some other puppets I know. While she is a svelte young lady, she didn’t rub it in, not even once, when I was going through the whole “I dream of burquini” debacle with my sister-in-law to be in the summer of 2004. She just accepts all human (and puppet) forms as they are, without judgement. It’s a bit milk and honey from the outside – and may appear to be insincere, but I have learned that she is not, that it is straight from the heart.
Esma was born in Gaziantep (thus the seemingly genetic love of spices galore) – but emigrated to Bursa when she was just an infant. Her particularly quiet and meditative form of dancing is what led to her invitation to be part of the Sultan’s troupe of dancing lady puppets. She sends her family her wages every month.
How these puppets worked it out with a centuries-dead Sultan to inhabit my mind in the 2000s, I will never know. I am just grateful for their presence, as they always help me to sort out my business as I navigate this cross-cultural roadtrip of marriage with my Turkish husband, M. Esma is the most calming influence of the shadow puppets, and I am grateful for her presence. That little puppet has hear calm head screwed on straight.
- The Sultan of Nutcrackers issues an invitation to the puppets (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- Strike a pose: Puppets gone fashionista in the middle of the night! (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- Walking through Ptown at night: LGBT civil rights symbols and the Sultan of Nutcrackers (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- Moving from Madonna to Meditation and Myths (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- A strange, (spinning) journey to pink paradise with the Karagöz (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- Karagöz: Consider this a formal introduction to himself (slowly-by-slowly.com)