Balat, Thursday 8 April
The World Roma Day festivities have started at the shore of the Golden Horn (Haliç) strait. Listen to the recording:
The echoing ezan faintly heard in the begining of the recording made the festival pause for a few minutes. But soon the voices of the müezzins are no longer heard and the soundsystem is switched on.
The Çanakkale Lapseki Roman orchestra is warming up and doing soundcheck. The clarinetist Hüsnü Şenlendirici stolls on the stage and soon the air fills with the sound of Roma music. The evening continues with more and more performers, and the people are dancing and enjoying themseves despite the cooling evening weather. Compelled to leave the spot due to not just high but ear piercing decibel levels I fled to a cafe near by and enjoyed the music through the walls.
The announcer thanked the local MP and city authority for organizing the event. Unfortunately the city authorities will also bulldoze and rebuilt the Balat and neighboring Fener districts in very near future as they are to attract more tourists to the detriment of local residents. These kind of gentrification projects are familiar to the former Sulukule residents as well. A Roma neighbourhood like Balat, that too.