Turkish coffee cup reading

born in Baku, Azerbaijan. My parents are from a small tribe
in Azerbaijan called Juhuri, and they immigrated when I was
four from Azerbaijan to Turkey. So for the biggest chunk of my
life I grew up in Istanbul, Turkey. And had a great time, learned
a lot about Turkish culture. I wanted to work over summer. And one of the best work
opportunities for people my age who speak some kind
of English was to work as a fortune teller for the tourists. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Oh, can we have some coffee? CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: Yes. Let’s start. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Yeah? OK. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: So let’s, yeah. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Oh, it’s delicious, yeah. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: It’s great. ALYSSA GOODMAN: How do we do this? CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: OK. So first we’re going
to take the coffee cup. And then we’re going to
cover it with the saucer. ALYSSA GOODMAN: OK, got it. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: And then
with your thumb at the bottom and then your index finger
middle finger on the top– ALYSSA GOODMAN: OK, like this? CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: –yes. And now you’re going to make a wish
that you’re not going to tell us. And keep about that
wish and how much you want this wish to happen in real life. And while doing it, turn
three times clockwise. ALYSSA GOODMAN: OK. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: OK? And then now we’re going
to very quickly turn it outwards and put its
saucer on the table. ALYSSA GOODMAN: OK. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: And
while we’re doing this, I’m going to say a Turkish
phrase that basically says whatever is my situation,
let that appear in the cup. ALYSSA GOODMAN: OK. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: [SPEAKING TURKISH] OK. Great. Now we’re going to let
it hold a little bit. So before we do that, would you
mind putting your ring or a coin. The ring indicates that
you want to hear more about personal relationships,
romantic relationships, friends, love, sort of things. A coin indicates you want to know more
about your professional goals, money, bank accounts. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Let’s go personal. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: OK. ALYSSA GOODMAN: OK, Put the coin– CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: Just put it on the– ALYSSA GOODMAN: Put it on there? CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: Yeah. ALYSSA GOODMAN: OK. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: And we believe
that the energy of the ring and what the ring stands for
is going to actually influence what is going to be seen in the cup. It’s not only about the future. It’s also about what’s present and the
past, because it nurtures our knowledge of what is future going to be, right? ALYSSA GOODMAN: Right. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: We’ll wait
a little bit until it dries. The fortune teller obviously, like
all the types of other fortunetelling, a lot of them, you try to
read your customer in a way. So at first what happens– what were
my instructions in the cafe– was the tourists would come,
I would ask tourists a bunch of introductory questions. Try to understand whether this person
is rich or poor or married or single. Where is this person from? And kind of understand what are
the worries in this person’s mind? And after you drink the coffee and
try to start interpreting the coffee, you kind of project the things
you’ve learned about this person into and the coffee cup and
pretend that it’s the coffee cup that’s telling you all those
things that you have learned before. So you really use your
interpretation skills in ways. It’s almost like a clinical
psychology practice, where you are trying to bring– without giving directed
advice to individuals, you’re trying to lead them to come to
advice they want to hear by themselves, and they want to do. So I think some of the
fortune tellers would really approach their work from that lens. But we also used to have a booklet. And the booklet basically was– this was a short, maybe
10 to 15 pages, booklet. But it would say rabbit means this. Star means that. A skyscraper means this, et cetera. So this way when we interpret the
shapes, we have kind of a basis. A lot of people have different
ways of looking at the cup inside. Because now you’re
going to see I’m going to divide the cup in different parts. And different parts for me is
going to mean different things. So I’ll put my cup away, and I
will return your ring to you. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Thank you. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: The energy is there. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Oh, I feel it. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: And I
will flip the cup over, ooh. The way I look at the cup is always that
basically the handle parts, this part, is about love. This part is about wealth. When I cut from the middle, the
left part is going to be present and the past, and then the right
part is going to be about the future. And the very dark bottom is
going to be about family. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Some other
people at Radcliffe here also had this discussion about
whether people really, really want to know the future or if they just
kind of want to chat about the future. And you know maybe what
you’re saying is great, or maybe it’s just a nice
opportunity to have a chat. So what was the balance of
that kind of goal with people? CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: I think for
our culture, most of the time, it’s a social tool to get to know
other people and catch up with friends. So when you say, let’s have
a cup of Turkish coffee, this means that you’re committing for a
chunk of an hour and a half, two hours to actually sit down. It’s not something on the go. [LAUGHTER] And you sit down and really
discuss life matters, right? Let’s say you are divorcing from someone
or you are changing your career path, you’re relocating from
one city to another, or your mother is going
through an illness, kind of important events in your life. And you want those events to be
discussed and mentioned and shared with someone. But you also want to know whether
those events are potentially going to come to a positive
or a negative outcome. So I think coffee drinking culture
and the coffee cup fortunetelling really enables that type of a venue for
people to alleviate their own worries. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Do you know how old it is? When it started? CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: Yes,
so we know according to historical records of the Ottoman
Empire that it’s around 16th century when the Ottoman Sultan for the
first time started having this. What we call today the Turkish
coffee actually comes from Yemen. And it was imported
into Ottoman times when it basically was a
part of Ottoman Empire, and came all the way to the Sultan. And Sultan loved the taste of it. And we know that some of the
people were brought from the city, from Istanbul at the time,
to come to the Sultan and give his fortune
from looking at the cup. And that’s how it spread to the
local elite of the Ottoman Empire at the time. And from there spread
outwards to all the region. I see a volcano. ALYSSA GOODMAN: A volcano? Oh, look at that! That really looks almost
like a pyramid volcano. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: See
there’s some lava coming. Actually a volcano is a very common
feature in coffee cup fortune telling. It is a mountain and a volcano. A volcano happens when
the top is not sharp. ALYSSA GOODMAN: I see. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: And a mountain
happens when the top is sharp. ALYSSA GOODMAN: OK. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: Mountain
means actually there is going to be a challenging
path, and at the end, there is going to be a lot of
relief and a lot of happiness. Volcano means there’s a lot of something
coming, it’s like a volcano eruption. That might mean good
things or bad things. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Great. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: But
mostly volcanoes indicate that there’s a lot of energy of
some sort that’s coming your way. And this volcano,
gladly, has an opening. Do you see that at the
end there is an opening? ALYSSA GOODMAN: Definitely. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: So this opening
would indicate, once again, that whether this volcano brings
you bad news or good news, whether there’s a lot
of bad things happening or a lot of good things happening in one
moment, it is going to result in good. ALYSSA GOODMAN: OK. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: If this was completely
closed which could have happened, if that was completely
closed that would mean that it’s just going to
be negative results, even if it’s a positive volcano. So this would mean nothing to worry. There’s going to be a time that’s
coming in the near future– and we also know that coffee cups
cannot tell you more than 40 days. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Oh, really? CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: So this
is in the next 40 days. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Is that to ensure
the return of the patron to the coffee fortune teller? CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: It means that
I want to see my friend again. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Got it, OK. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: In
no more than 40 days. When I was growing up
and my mom was working, and I was around nine
years old, 10 years old, and didn’t want to stay alone, I
would go with my mom to the work and see all these women doing these
different types of fortune telling and prediction systems, echoing with
the cycles, lunar cycles or astrology, about what’s going to happen in
certain Turkish people’s lives. ALYSSA GOODMAN: And that was a big
part of the local culture? CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: Yeah, it was
a big part of the local culture and I think there’s definitely
certain individuals who choose to not engage in it. And there’s certain individuals
who choose to believe in it a lot. In Azeri, we have a phrase
that says, don’t ever believe in fortune telling fully, but
never stay without fortune telling. So you need to do it a
little bit, but not too much. If you see there’s a
bunch of towers, actually. This could be an Eiffel Tower. ALYSSA GOODMAN: I am going on the Eiffel Tower. I’ve never– been to France
many times and I’ve never gone up in the Eiffel Tower. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: And
the Eiffel Tower is– oh, my god, the Eiffel Tower– ALYSSA GOODMAN: Looks exactly
like the Eiffel Tower. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: It does exactly
look like the Eiffel Tower. Can you turn that so that
we can see a picture? CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: And the Eiffel
Tower is in the romantic side. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Oh. [INTERPOSING VOICES] ALYSSA GOODMAN: Oh, come on, it’s Paris. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: It
is a city of romance. So the main situation of
where I see coffee being drank is the middle age population, because
they have the biggest worries, I think, in their lives about
money, about love, about marriage, about different things. So they usually see this as a
tool that they can believe in. They still consume Turkish coffee a lot. A lot of times the people
who are going to do it are the people who have the time to be
able to commute two hours to a friend and sit down. ALYSSA GOODMAN: You were also saying
something about people don’t drink the coffee for the caffeine? Is that what you said before? CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: Yeah, totally. I think– ALYSSA GOODMAN: So it’s a purely social event. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: 100%. No one would drink Turkish
coffee because they want to stay awake that night, which
I feel like people in the States and at Harvard, specifically, we do
it like, oh, I need to wake up today. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Does it have a lot of caffeine? Or I’m going to find out later. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: It
has a lot of caffeine. And I think maybe some people
would find it offensive if you drink this coffee in a rush
to just keep yourself awakened. Because it is an offense to the
tradition of drinking this coffee and making this coffee. And as we saw earlier, it
takes time to make this coffee. It’s not an instant process, and
you really need to spend time. No life is going to go
completely horrendous, and no life is going to
go without any problem. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Right. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: So it’s important
to highlight opportunities of growth and opportunities
of concern and really put attention to certain
letters and certain characters. And see whether those letters and those
people and those types of concepts appear in your life. ALYSSA GOODMAN: Well, I completely get it now. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: [INAUDIBLE] ALYSSA GOODMAN: It gets stronger on the bottom. CENGIZ CEMALOGLU: Yeah, yeah. [MUSIC PLAYING]


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