The Mystery of Yogurt Maker’s Park

Posted on April 18, 2011


I recently moved back into the Ösmanağa area of Kadıköy, and one of the nice things about being on the backside of the hill is that I am closer to the Fenerbahçe football stadium. I’m close enough to keep track of the score by the roar of the crowd. A cheer that suddenly rises but is quickly aborted means something almost happened. And, let’s face it, football is a game consisting mainly of things almost happening. Then there is the gasp of an opposing goal scored. However, a successful home team goal need not be described. There is no mistaking the roar that rushes up the hill for anything other than a point for the fightin’ Canaries.

Just look at those talons!

            You’ve got to admire Fenerbahçe. A team whose name means ‘lighthouse garden’ went with a canary as their mascot. It says a lot about just how comfortable Fener fans are with their masculinity. Especially when you consider that their two inter-city rivals are the Galatasaray Lions and the Beşiktaş Eagles. If you are a fan of the Yellow Canaries like myself, you may be interested in the origin of the canary as our mascot. You can read the article here:’s_Mascot%3A_The_Yellow_Canary/

            Being closer to the stadium also means that I am closer to the lovely Yoğurtçu (yogurt maker) park. It is one of the first places we walked Lale (our pug) and she loves being back. The oval-shaped park is adjacent to a long canal where many little boats are moored. The place is a real community center with a basketball and tennis court, a running track, playgrounds, and, a requisite for any Turkish park, an awkward workout center.

            It’s hard to look cool on these garish contraptions, but I guess that’s not the point. The American in me looked at all of that metal and moving parts and was only able to see a collection of lawsuits. Luckily for the municipality, I don’t think that happens too much around here. I often see mothers and old folks on them though, so I guess they are serving a purpose. They seem to function best as a place to twist and ungulate while the kiddos are in the playground.

            My favorite part is the canal with all these great boats. Some are nice, small yachts and others are wooden boats so rickety that they look they have been stapled together.

            You can often find sailors hanging out in these boats grilling fish and drinking whiskey or rakı. Forget the drab teahouses. If I were a grizzled old Turkish man, this is where you’d find me. Or wouldn’t find me because I guess that’s the whole point:  getting out of the house and away from the kids who only seem to ask for money.

              Like little floating clubhouses for old geezers

            While walking along this canal I was taking pictures of one of my favorite subjects: sleeping street dogs. There were some old men sitting lazily outside of a building watching me. What must they think of the crazy yabancı taking pictures of these no good mangy animals? One guy interrupted my shot and strongly insisted that I follow him.

            He took me over to the building and pointed, telling me to take a picture of another dog. He seemed really excited about the prospect of me taking this picture, but I couldn’t see the dog anywhere. Then I realized the ‘other dog’ he was talking about was his gruff companion.

            It was all pretty funny, and the companion seemed used to being the butt of his pal’s jokes. After snapping the shot, I began to really contemplate this building. I’ve noticed it before, but I’ve never been able to figure out just exactly what the heck it is. It is right there in the park between the tennis courts and the canal. There are always a couple of old salts hanging around. You can’t see very much inside. Do they live here?

            I can’t imagine people being allowed to live here considering that it is right in a public park. However, it really doesn’t look like a business of any kind either. Is it a fisherman’s hang out? It’s right smack in the middle of everything, but I have no idea what it is. And then you go round back…

            The running track, tennis courts, and playground would lead you to believe you were in any generic park back in the States, and then you notice this:  chickens and sometimes rabbits!   For what purpose!? I’d love to know what this building is, so if you or anyone living here has a clue, let me know. For now, I’ll just go with: It’s a clubhouse for old fishermen who enjoy fresh eggs and rabbit sausage.

            The light was really hitting this rooster just right that day. Here are some of his glamor shots.

This guy had a real edge to him. He might make a good football mascot. In spite of the natural beauty God endowed this creature with, I had to work hard to get this next one.

Having watched more than the recommended amount of America’s Next Top Model with my wife, I feel the girls on that show could learn a thing or two from this rooster — the way he works with his body instead of against it and dominates the space.

    What do you call this stuff ? Cartilage? What is it’s purpose…I mean…other than beauty?

I guess it will forever stay a mystery for those of us too lazy to Wiki it.