Let me offer you a snapshot:

I am at my sister’s place (We drove 150 kms to Saarbruecken this evening, listening to assorted Hindi songs as the sun dipped into a partly cloudy horizon). Wife is watching TV: a German channel is showing a dubbed version of In the mood for Love. I refused to watch it in this form; I’ll wait for the DVD to arrive, to experience it again in Mandarin with English sub-titles. I’ve downloaded iTunes, and I’m listening to Vivaldi, switching intermittently to the movie’s haunting music. Hardu – that’s what we call my sister – is packing for her India trip, which begins tomorrow (lucky her).

Nothing unusual there, but I didn’t promise anything, did I? And yet, you persist…

… now before I continue telling you more about My Name is Red and the Istanbul it illustrates, let me tell you about the three sisters who run the Turkish supermarket in town. I was there shopping last Saturday. The eldest of the three was at the cash counter, dispensing change to an elderly man speaking in a tongue I did not understand. As I turned over a few tomatoes to choose from, I heard her call out to her sister.


The youngest one peered out from behind a stack of crates. As always, I was startled at the resemblance among the sisters. If you were shown their pictures, you would assume they were of the same woman in different phases of adulthood. But I’ve seen them together, so you will have to believe what I say.

The only men you’ll find there are customers; the sisters seem to run the place all by themselves, and it makes you wonder if their husbands are at home, cooking supper and putting the children to bed. But the truth is stranger: many men have tried to engage them in matrimony, and failed.

Why is that? you ask. But my wife, who has just completed her movie, is calling out for me, so you – and I, and this story – will have to wait for another day.