REMEMBERING THE GOLDEN AGE

Tenants who are old enough to remember  BVH from three decades ago, picture a time when all the rooms were packed with workers, dozens of weaving looms would be working non-stop, hamals were scrambling between the two floors, turners and foundry men could always be found hard at work, coffee-shops were crowded and customers were abound. Between themselves and in the presence of newcomers, they reminisce these busy and exhausting, but merry times, when work was plentiful and earnings were more than decent. During those times friends would stand by each other, would stay over for evenings at the BVH, and still choose to spend together their free time on the weekends.

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Sabri Bey talking about the old times.

Generations of a single family can have a common history at BVH.

Osman Bey, one of the leading wholesalers of cloth, took over business from his father who came to the Han as a hamal. Faik Bey, a polisher, encouraged his son to become a hat maker because he thought that job is less detrimental for health than the one he practiced. Hasan Bey runs the coffee shop on the upper floor while his son works as an ironer. On the other hand, many master craftsmen maintain that their children prefer to choose jobs as clerks and sales representatives in the service sector instead of taking up apprenticeships with their fathers at BVH. .

Craftsmen who came to BVH as little more than children recall their master-workers often as tough teachers and bosses and their years of training as one of hardship. Still, for them it was a privilege, a preparation for a professional life, which according to them is no longer possible with the waning discipline of today’s youngsters. Even for those who say they suffered from injustice of greedy bosses and detrimental work conditions, a career spent at BVH is somehow seen as a unique opportunity.

 

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Onnik Bey on his apprenticeship.

When they get together for extended breaks at the coffee-shops, a popular topic of conversation of the tenants are the legends of the Han.

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Güven Bey on the peculiar history of the Third Courtyard.

Tenants occasionally receive news from old friends who, from humble beginnings at the BVH moved on to become chapters of the Han’s success stories. On the other hand and not infrequently, someone mentions an encounter with a former BVH character that has lost everything. In both cases, anecdotes are as if that person has never left the BVH, and some morals are quickly drawn from these experiences.

Many tenants who stumble upon hardship still choose to stay and try again at BVH. A formerly self-employed master can be compelled to try his hand as an apprentice in a new line of work, the owner of an independent atelier can become a small sub-contractor or even an employee for larger businesses, and a bankrupt merchant can make reappearance in a totally new venture.

- Formerly a manufacturer of men’s trousers in BVH, “Boksör” (Boxer) Mahmut was hit hard by the economic crises of 1994 and 2001. His last commercial venture was also in BVH, this time running a steak-house for the Han clientele.
- Bulent, an experienced foundry man has chosen to work for a hat maker.
- Mehdi, a weaving-master who holds a job in one of Han’s restaurants.

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