Ayfer Tunç’s Adapazari

We asked acclaimed writer Ayfer Tunç about Adapazarı, where she grew up.

What do you remember about your childhood in Adapazarı?
The famous boulevard where young people hung out in the evening, the pools of greenish-brown water and the thousands of flower pots that stood around them, Şemsiyeli Garden with its enormous sun umbrellas, the fabulous ice cream, the poplar trees whose cottony seeds floated over the city like a cloud in summer, the shops and endless arcades along Çark Caddesi, which were regarded as quite fashionable at the time... There were enough arcades in Adapazarı in those days to bring tears to the eyes of Walter Benjamin (the German writer whose monumental, unfinished study, the Arcades Project, is about the 19th-century arcades of Paris).

What contribution has the city made to your writing?
To be perfectly honest, not much. I went to high school in Istanbul, as a boarding student. And my interest in writing started in university when I had already cut my ties with Adapazarı.  But my first short story, ‘Saklı’, which won the Yunus Nadi Award, is set in Adapazarı and is s sort of thumbnail sketch of my childhood there. As a person gets older though, he becomes strangely closer to his childhood, and I find myself remembering Adapazarı frequently.

What would you like most to do in Adapazarı if you went there?
I would love to travel back in time to my childhood, to go to junior high basketball practice, to drink the famous ‘ayran’ (yoghurt drink), to buy 45’s from the record shop on Çark Caddesi, to watch Turkish musicals in technicolor at the Yıldız Cinema, to discover the remaining historic Adapazarı houses, and to stroll through all the city’s streets with their fruit trees and poplars. But if I had to come up with one thing that is actually possible, then I would love to go to the place where they are made best and eat the famous ‘ıslama’ meatballs with sweet, white ‘Adabassar’ onions. I’m not sure though that they would be as tasty as they were when I was a child.