‘Ginnngggggggg!’ The sound resonated in the old harbour square as someone called out. I froze in my steps hoping that I was not going to hear the remainder of the phrase that accompanied the word ‘Ging’. It was a pet name given to me by one of the first people I had met when I came to Cyprus because of my red hair. I turned in my step and as my friend came closer, he quietly mouthed the words ‘Ginger bitch’. As I said it was a pet name that will stick between us forever…
I have known Ugur Karagozlu for over 20 years… Ours was a love/hate relationship. I loved and still love him dearly and love to hate him sometimes too! Ugur (or luck/fortune) as his name translates became my go to person after I met him 20 something years ago. I recall our first meeting; I was having a bite to eat with my then fiancé at a pizza parlour down the road from the old premises of KIBRIS newspaper. My late father in law was the Editor in Chief and General Manager and after popping in to say hello we went off for a bite to eat. As we were doing so, this slim, tall man with glasses, cigarette in one hand, came sauntering along. We were introduced, exchanged pleasantries and he sat down. I recall that he ate with us and left; he begs to differ. Whatever the case, I was hooked. Ugur had entranced me in his uniqueness and in years to come his intelligence.
Not only was he flamboyant in an understated way, he reeked with unequivocal cleverness. Over the years as I grew to understand him, I didn’t really know him. You only saw what he allowed you to see. The rest was hidden behind a cloud of mystery. In his younger days, he was not always reliable either. If you invited him dinner and he accepted, his place setting at the table was not always filled. If you agreed to meet outside for cocktails, you didn’t always hold your breath that he would appear so it was a pleasant surprise when he did. The one time I invited him to my house for dinner; it was I who left him rapping at the door because I had gone into labour and through the excitement forgot to tell him! Bless his heart; armed with flowers and gifts he made his way to the clinic only to greeted by myself and some nurses trying to express milk for the baby! I have never seen him turn around and race out so fast.
We don’t often meet but when we do, we naturally pick up where he left off. For us there was an unspoken understanding of each other. Ugur has many friends both close and otherwise. He held a state position both enviable by some and detested by others. His knowledge and thirst for more is unmatched. If I were to characterise him I guess it would be Jack Worthing in the Importance of Being Earnest. His flair and outlook on life has changed with his years. I can honestly say Ugur has matured, grown up if you will. My nieces and nephew live two doors up from him and they are constantly at his house. This man in his youth had no patience for things like this. Children running around and screaming had him running and screaming for the hills. Call it maturity or mellowness I don’t know.
There is no one like him in my life; and to be honest I don’t want anyone like him either. He is unique and if you know him and are fortunate to be his friend then you should count yourself very lucky. He calls himself a ‘flaneur or loafer’; for me he is ‘providence’.