Something is going completely wrong,
I thought, when I walked through the empty hall of the Nicosia Bandabuliya that
had been restored expensively for two years and was reopened last year. We read
it in the papers that stall holders complain that life has left the halls since
the renovations by the UN: “The rain came through the roof but we had people
flocking in, now we have a tarmacked floor but nobody walks on it, we have
clean cubicles but nobody comes to see them, everybody stays outside.”
One of the shop-owners Ayten, she has
the knit wear shop at the end of the road, is one of the prolific organisers of
activities and cultural events to reanimate the situation, see my review on the
knitting art event on Tuesday, September 24. Ayhatun Atesin, ceramic artist, has organized a series of events supported by
organisations such as UN Partnership for the Future and others. Sidestreets had
put up a workshop to teach the making of local hand fans woven from wicker grass.
They all attracted people and while I was there, I watched the guests walking
by the established stalls and come directly to the event. Not very helpful.
The atmosphere has become very sterile
and all cubicles look alike, by the way, wooden frames would have been more
attractive. Tourists love going to the green markets of the countries they
visit including myself because they hope to find there the characteristics of
fruit and vegetables the farmers have freshly brought in from their fields, all
smelling of pure nature, then perhaps stalls with handicraft, and Cyprus has a
lot to show, but not cheap ware from Turkey and China, stuff people find en
masse in the Old City streets outside.
Markets like the Wednesday Green
Market in Girne is always crowded and does not need any animation.
Or look at the other renovated
Bandabuliyas in Girne and Famagusta, the same failure. Only some years have
gone by and a new renovation is being planned for the place in Famagusta, or
should we call it re-invention? A sort
of re-invention would be most welcome for the one in Girne as well; I know that
GAU had sent their art classes to study the situation and make a plan, that was
three years ago. Nothing has happened since. What a pity, Bandabuliyas have in their walls history hidden, if they
could speak out, they could tell many a story of happy and miserable days the
people living around them have gone through. Such thoughts should be the basics
for renovation to make a visit interesting. That is the idea of culture
maintenance to emphasise the former use in the daily life of people.
One has the impression that the plans
were made by people sitting at their writing desks and proper research and studies
were not made of the surroundings; it
takes artists and cultural heritage people to create the rebirth of such a
sensitive place – because it is a rebirth after so many months of renovation –
it takes talking to people who are directly involved.
The Büyük Han is a successful
renovation, the medieval atmosphere is maintained and it is one of the main
attractions in the Old City of Nicosia. The shops offer relatively good quality
and many of them entertain workshops and the visitor finds samples of local art.
I know time does not stand still but
the longing of people for the good old times is evident; there is a certain
fascination that overcomes them when visiting the Green Markets of their region.
A market is a sort of living museum, it must smell of fresh bread and cheese,
of fresh vegetables and fruit; the meat the butchers hang out to work on must
be dripping with blood; a fine smell of grill should drift through the halls,
perhaps some regional delicacies should be offered.
The love for such markets can be met
worldwide, the big city markets are often hundreds of years old, the markets in South America, the open
markets in Singapore, the floating market in Bangkok, the exciting markets in
New York, or the famous city market in Munich…that should prove something to
people who are to plan such things of culture and tradition. Foodmarkets are the centre of communities or
So, next time when you come to
Nicosia, visit the Old Bazaar, the Bandabuliya,
to support the market people. I am sure they have a lot of stories to
tell if one would care to listen. I wonder if one would paint the frames of the
sterile row of cubicles in vivid colours, the atmosphere would become more
joyful, the youths are out on the roads of Nicosia anyway to paint street
boulders and other landmarks to display their protest….