Memories of Ada Kaleh, with the Son of Danube

A kahve with Hakan Ataman, human rights activist from Ankara. They are the true heroes, not us: he an Tanya from Moscow, where the guys come and take you from your bed at 6am and nobody hears from you for months.

Coincidence: Hakan’s grandfather, Riza, was a watchmaker on the island of Ada Kaleh. He emigrated from Romaniain 1921, during the great Balkan ethnic purges. When Ataturk legislated the family names in 1934, he chose Tunaoğlu. Tuna is the Turkish name of river Danube. Tunaoğlu = the son of the Danube. Oriental poetry and deep nostalgia,most probably. He didn’t want to be lost into the big Anatolian melting pot but keep his identity of an European Turk coming from a place that meant something.

Of course, he kept speaking Romanian, Hungarian and Serbian, as it was the habit in Ada Kaleh, when he had someone to speak to. And died before he could learn about the tragedy of 1968-70, when the population was removed and the island flooded by the reservoir of the great hydroelectric plant build by Romania and Yugoslavia at the Iron gates.

This, I only told Hakan now over the kahve. Browsed through old pictures and remembered the lokum brand Ada Kaleh, still sold in socialist stores in Romania when I was a child. But of couse, it was one of much poorer quality, without nuts and pistacchio, as the Turks from the island-citadel would make it in the old times.

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