Today we do our usual market
trek with our host. This has become one of my favourite parts of
the shoot. We meet Fatima and Yang at the Beksitas Market. We
were late and Fatima was anxiously waiting. I guess early birds
get the best worms and she didn’t want to lose out.
I barely had
time to find the sweet spot on my Steadicam rig and she was off
to the races as soon as she caught sight of our cab pulling up.
I had to leave David behind to cover the cane waddling Uncle
Yang while I dash off ahead to catch up. It was a joy watching
the fast talking matriarch as she reels and deals with the
vendors in Turkish. It reminded me of my fondest memories of
similar shopping treks with my dear departed Grandma.
Back at the restaurant, I film Fatima throwing her weight around
with instructions to the kitchen staff and Yakar, her loyal
servant who has been with her for over forty-five years. This
matriarch is definitely in control while the retiring Uncle Yang
sits back behind the scenes probably reading his Taiwanese
newspaper and dreaming of saving the Mainland from the
Communists someday. He reminds me of David’s grandpa and that
dying breed of old relics still found in fast disappearing
Kuomintang Benevolent Clubs in some Chinatowns.
Even though Istanbul is at the crossroads between Asia and
Europe, I don’t feel that it is as international a city as say
New York, London or Paris. I find it interesting how the Wang’s
have become such an international family with a base in
Istanbul. I envy their internationalism.
It’s late Sunday night. We leave tomorrow morning and need to
close the story. Tonight I film Yakar spinning tall tales while
waiting for the last customer to empty the joint as he’s done
for the past forty-five years. Cheuk ate at the restaurant
twenty-five years ago and met Yakar then. So it’s a reunion of
Cheuk doesn’t think the restaurant operation will last. He now
wants to film the “closure” like the last shot of Antonioni’s
“The Passenger” – Hotel de La Gloria at dusk but with Turkish
music. Yakar complies. He turns off the red Chinese lanterns and
closes the front doors to China Restaurant. Like a routine he
has rehearsed for my camera, he bids goodnight to some
passers-by and waddles into the dusk blue sky. Off to the side
of my LCD monitor, a lone cat tiptoes into frame following
behind him. I didn’t know we had any budget for cat wranglers on
this shoot. François Truffaut, eat your heart out!