January 27, 2013


EPISODE 13 / Gölcük İzmit / 26 Jan 2013

In this episode, we'll be in Izmit (Kocaeli) Gölcük. After the earthquake in 1999, most of us called this city as "earthquake town", but in fact the city has a special name: "naval town". In this episode, we'll be searching for Gölcük's musical history, find out where the name of "naval town" comes from. Beside that, we'll find out how this town is becoming a touristic town more and more.

This is a town of hope that deserves to be remembered with its immigrants, unique nature and culture, not with an earthquake or sea disasters. 

Golcuk city center on the Gulf of İzmit

After the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, immigrants of Georgian descent had settled in the hills of Gölcük. Ferman travels toward the villages outside the town center for a while to meet them. Kemal Abi accompanies the KK crew with his accordion.

Ferman will explore the Georgian and Caucasian music in Gölcük's villages on the hills. As a result of Russo-Turkish War, the Georgian people who had lived around Kars, Ardahan and Batum forced to migrate to Gölcük. They had to come up the forested hills because the coastal parts of the region were swampy.

The exquisite sea view at the town center changes into a stunning nature as they move toward the villages outside the city. You can even see the ski center Kartepe in the fog from a distance.
Kartepe ski center

They return to the city center from the villages. Ferman's first destination is a unique part of the city: The propeller of the battleship "Yavuz". We know that Yavuz is one of the reasons of the WW1. By bombarding Russian facilities in the Black Sea, she brought Turkey into WW1 on the German side. 
The propeller of the battleship "Yavuz"
In 1925, Gölcük was chosen to build a floating drydock large enough to hold the battleship Yavuz for repair work of her war damage. Yavuz is significant not only for bringing the WW1 to Turkey, but for carrying the remains of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. 
 The battleship "Yavuz"

Why did Gölcük become a naval town? A part of the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923, banned military facilities in the Turkish Straits. So Turkish Navy's infrastructure, like shipyards and naval facilities, at the Golden Horn and İstinye in İstanbul were systematically relocated to Gölcük. A naval base was built in the swampy area where Georgian immigrants couldn't settle in and the immigrants and the naval families begin to live together in a cultural mosaic. 

Ferman's next stop is "Yarhisar", which has been used as a museum ship since 2006. Ferman finds the inside of the museum ship a little creepy. He thinks it's because of the dummies.
"SS Üsküdar"

There is another ship in the history of Gölcük and the biggest sea disaster in Turkey's marine history: SS Üsküdar. Ferman visits the symbolic graves of the victims at the March 1st SS Üsküdar Cemetery, to perpetuate the memory of those died in the disaster. SS Üsküdar was on scheduled shuttle trips on the Sea of Marmara between İzmit and Değirmendere/Gölcük and carrying 9 crew, 302 passengers aboard including 76 students from a local vocational high school to Gölcük on the day of the disaster, March 1, 1958. Due to the bad storm, after 26 minutes from her departure SS Üsküdar careened over on the port side and sank. 272 people died including 38 students and 7 crew. 37 passengers and 2 crew survived the disaster.
Kazıklı Kervansaray

The next stop is Kazıklı Kervansaray which is one of the most important buildings from the Ottoman era. This was an important 16th century caravanserai, which was a roadside inn, located along the ancient Silk Road where travellers rest and recover from the day's journey and also accomodated Ottoman army on a campaign. It was restored by the Gölcük Municipality and now is being used as both a museum and a cultural center.
Ferman and the Mayor of Gölcük, Mehmet Ellibeş
Ferman meets with the Mayor of Gölcük, Mehmet Ellibeş here. Ferman asks him if the wounds of 1999 Earthquake healed or not. The earthquake on August 17, 1999 was a turning point and a rebirth for Gölcük. A new Gölcük was born in the ruins of the earthquake. The people succeeded in a very difficult task. They believed in solidarity and working together. This is the biggest factor on the basis of this success and of course state and foreign funds also helped a lot. Today there is nothing that hinders the daily life in Gölcük. The life goes on for the ones who survived. They haven't forgotten that day, but they're hopeful for the future.

The ruins of the caravanserai was once an orchard. In collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, they restored it without spoiling the historical remains. There is a theater stage inside and an open air stage outside. This cultural center became a main symbol of how the people clung on to life.

(İNCİ'S PERSONAL NOTE: I witnessed first-hand how Gölcük has changed after the earthquake when I visited Gölcük lots of times on business in years and taking my hat off to their big success. I saw the town in ruins and then also saw the reconstructed town. So I'm very proud of Gölcük even though I'm not from there. )

Now they are working hard to revive an ancient 2nd century Roman hot spring.
Ferman's next stop is a tailor's shop. The tailor, İmdat Ataman plays accordion very skillfully. 

Gölcük Caucasian Culture and Solidarity Association
After the tailor's shop, Ferman visits the Gölcük Caucasian Culture and Solidarity Association. The moment he steps inside, he is welcomed very heartily in a warm atmosphere. The recording will be very enthusiastic here.
Şeyma Koç and Samet Sevim

Ferman asks some questions to the President of the association, Murat Sevim: When you look back, everything begins with a big migration. And then there is a life on the hills. There are several misfortunes in the history of the region, such as a sea disaster and a big earthquake. How do they affect their music? 
Ferman and Murat Sevim 

Gölcük is a sensitive town. They overcame the big hardships. It was not an easy task to keep the forgotten original Georgian music alive. They got great help from Georgia, Artvin and their great grandparents to compile the songs. The reason why they founded this association is to show the life goes on even after the big disaster; bring the friends together and make them forget the bad memories of the disaster and perpetuate their Caucasian culture. They participated in numerous festivals, national and international and they're doing their best to represent Gölcük.

Ferman asks about the instruments. The most important instruments are accordion and doli, a type of drum. They added guitar afterwards to modernize the music.
Şeyma Koç and Samet Sevim

It's time to record some Georgian songs now. Şeyma Koç and Samet Sevim perform two songs from the Caucasus Region.

Ferman and Badem

Back in İstanbul. This episode's guest star is rock band, BADEM (Almond). In the briefing with Badem, Ferman states that with every episode, he realized that most of the folk songs started to be sung after a migration. There is generally a sadness on the background of almost every folk song. Whenever they go in Anatolia, there is always a story about migrations with pain and elegies. He asks them what they think about this and how much of that they witnessed in Anatolia. 

The lead singer, Mustafa answers that: They have a deep background with folk music. When they started university, they encountered a book about Karacaoğlan (a 17th century Ottoman folk poet and minstrel). This was also the beginning of the band. They were inspired by that book greatly when they challenged to compose their first songs. They learned the folk music rhythm first and played saz (bağlama) in their debut song. They feel very familiar and close to folk songs. They played even in the ethnic music bars. Before moving on to the rock music, they played folk music for 3 years.

They liked this episode's folk song "Gelino" (The Bride) very much, including the lyrics. Badem will perform the song in Turkish but this song has never been sung in Turkish before. This will be a first for this song. They have also a song called "Gelin" (The Bride) with the lyrics of Karacaoğlan in their third album. They and Ferman are very curious about the final form of the folk song.
Badem's Mert

Mert initially thought that mandolin would be good on this song and makes it sound more innocent. He played a small part with mandolin as a trial on the phone with Ferman. He fell in love with this song as soon as he listened to it and wanted to try something on the mandolin right away. He hasn't brought his mandolin today. 

Ferman thinks that the melody is interesting so much that sometimes it has a Far Eastern vibe about it. Mert says that because it belongs to a region further to the east than Anatolia. Sometimes it sounds like Yugoslavian, sometimes Anatolian. It reflects the effects of the neigboring countries and this is very impressive. He thinks the folk songs carry so many life experiences. 
Ferman and Barış

Bariş adds that Turkish clans migrated all the way from Central Asia to Anatolia leaving most of what they had behind. Many civilizations flourished in Anatolia and maybe these songs have been sung for thousands of years on this soil. This song is about a pain. That's why this is a folk song. They touch somewhere inside and spread from ear to ear just like a newspaper. That emotion spreads and is shared by the people.

Ferman agrees that you can immediately realize that folk songs contain lots of life experiences when you read the lyrics.

When Ferman told Şeyma, the performer of the song that Badem will duet on the song with her, her eyes widened! Ferman hopes Şeyma will love this new form of the song. 

And then they start to work on the rearrangement all together. After they perfected the rearrangement with the Turkish lyrics, it is time to record the song.
Badem's Mustafa records the song

GELINO (The Bride) / Şeyma Koç - Badem

This week's song is a touching Georgian song about a bride who was called by his future husband. And Mustafa's emotional performance was really perfect, reflecting their usual fragile style.

With this episode, Kulaktan Kulaga's first season was concluded. Somehow I feel a big void inside now. I hope there will be a second season in the near future. We visited different regions of Turkey, sometimes close to big cities, sometimes far away, but always full of warm hospitality and great music of various cultures in Anatolia.
I liked seeing musicians work on a song's arrangement and admired all of them very much. I realized that I want to spend some time among them in one way or another if possible. Music is the spice of life, so I'll do my best to encourage my niece and nephew to be great music lovers in the coming years of their lives.

I'd like to express my thanks to Ferman again for being a means for us to realize once again how great Anatolia is and the cultural mosaic is our real treasure. I hope we don't lose that no matter what.

Looking forward to a second season hopefully.

The photos on this blogpost belong to MaNga Greece Facebook Fan Page. Thank you so much, girls! You make my work faster and easier.

You can watch the full video of the episode 13 on the You Tube link below:



  1. Oh this was a great episode...we heard something about history and some good music...i hope that there will be a second season of kulaktan kulaga and cant wait to watch...this tv show showed us what music is...music is the best human product,we cant live without it, it connects people from all over the word.People used music like cure in hospitals, when we are happy or sad we listen music...i hope u agree that music is a big part of our life...
    Thank u Inci for all your work and your translations at this season..hope that u will have allot of work in next ;)))
    Ivana_art_lover :*

    1. %100 agree with you.. I hope this program never ends

  2. by the way Gelino was awesome.. after Ferman, Mustafa's voice is my favourite

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