Friday, July 15, 2011
that old familiar face
Last year, I was shocked and delighted to discover this Atatürk mask hanging among the knick knacks of a shop in Durbar Square. Of all the people in all of history— Atatürk? In Kathmandu? It was so very odd, so unexpected. After a brief conversation with the shop owner about how he acquired the mask (he wasn't sure), and a quick history lesson about the fall of the Ottoman Empire, I left Atatürk in Kathmandu, among the toothy faces of demons and other characters.
You can guess what my first thought was upon returning to Durbar Square. I ran off in hopes of seeing that old familiar face. An entire year had passed— could someone have randomly bought this strange, handsome mask? Did other travellers from Turkey perhaps, take him home?
There, against the same brick wall, the stern and charismatic founder of the Republic of Turkey remained, watching over the square with a furrowed brow. By good fortune, I had met two other teachers from a school in Istanbul, who just happened to be staying two doors down from me at Ngudrup Guesthouse. I had told them about the mysterious presence of our home's father, and when we all discovered he was still in the same place I had described, we burst into laughter. Cameras clicking and loud declarations of disbelief brought a suspicious shop owner out to investigate.
"Do you remember who this man is?" I asked the curious shop owner, pointing to the silvery mask.