The fish restaurant Kemal’in Yeri in Bogaz harbour, which I just entered, is stunningly beautiful. From the ceiling hang fishing nets, seashells and other ornaments from the sea. I’ve been meaning to take some pictures and write a few words about the restaurant so I therefore start to talk to the waiter who welcomed me at the door. He tells us that the restaurant is well-known among locals and tourists and has received an award as Cyprus’s best fish restaurant. He interrupts himself mid-sentence, as the owner of the restaurant stepped through the door, the waiter calls out to him to come over here.
The restaurant owner Hasan Uluel welcomes me with a warm smile.
– Are you a photographer? He asks.
Without waiting for an answer he reaches for a guitar and sits on one of the restaurant tables.
– Now you can shoot! He says with a smile.
Hasan Uluel is not just a restaurant owner; he is an artist, a musician and a great entertainer. We sit down opposite each other at one of the tables with a steaming latte. Hasan says that his family has owned the restaurant for 40 years, but for the last 20 years Hasan has run it himself. There is no doubt that it is a popular restaurant. In the daytime people come here from all over to have lunch on the terrace which is right next door to the sparkling blue harbour. In the evenings the restaurant is full of people; we eat good fish and enjoy the entertainment.
– On the weekends there is a festive atmosphere here, say’s Hasan smiling. I and other musicians perform on stage and the atmosphere is perfect. Towards the end of the evening the guests are all up on the tables dancing!
Hasan has many strings to his lira, it becomes clear to me when he takes out his mobile phone and shows me several music videos he’s done. The self-written song Güzel Kıbrısım, he performs with several of Cyprus’s premier musicians, singing songs of love for Cyprus that wish for a united country. “Break down the wall, clapping to the music, we love Cyprus” are phrases that recur throughout the song. Hasan was born in Larnaca and he was 17 when he and his family had to move to Northern Cyprus.
Hasan shows me another clip on his phone. This time it’s a comedy show he has recorded with, among other things, his brother and broadcasted on Cypriot TV.
Hasan Uluel is a real character and I am already looking forward to seeing him the next time I visit the harbour town of Bogaz. Do the same the next time you are on the East Coast, you will surely receive a warm welcome!