Living on a small island in a big city

Niyazi Dalyanci is a 76-year-old man, who was born in a small fishing village in Beykoz. But for the past twenty years he has been living on of the island of Burgaz, which is part of the Princes’ Islands. I had a very nice conversation with him, where he told a lot about his life, along with other fascinating things.

Text by Brendan Mc Dade photos by Gokhan Tan and Unsplash

Can you tell me about where you’ve lived throughout your life?

I was born in Beykoz, but when I was 45 years old I moved to another part of the town on the Asian side of Turkey, where I lived for another ten years. And when I eventually retired, I decided to move to the Princes’ Islands.

What do you think of the Islands?

The island that I live on, called Burgaz, is one of the smallest Islands of the Princes’ Islands. I’m very happy where I am. I’m away from the noise, away from the pollution, and away from the big crowds. Those crowds have been infesting the city for the last couple of decades. When I was born there were only one million people living in Istanbul. But nowadays there are 17 million people living in Istanbul!

Niyazi Dalyanci (76).
Are there also things you miss about living on the mainland?

You do miss certain things. You must sacrifice certain things. I cannot go to a movie late night show. There is a bit of a transportation problem. Especially during the winter, when there are not as much boats available. We don’t have any movie theatres on the Islands. But the peacefulness and calmness definitely makes up for that. Especially in the winter it’s very relaxing.

So has your life changed a lot since you’ve come to Burgaz?

Yeah of course I don’t work anymore. I don’t have to do anything at daytime. But there are people on the island who do have to work, and must take the boat to the city every morning and come back around 6 or 7. The amount of people who do so, has increased a lot over the last decade. They are escaping from this crowded city, as you may have noticed.

Do you think the people on the different islands of Princes’ Islands are also different from each other?

Yes, the inhabitants of each island are different. They have a different approach to life, and they have ethnic and religious differences. For example, the people on my island are very proud of themselves. They don’t go to any of the other places. If there is something important, they go to Princes’ Island, where the local branches of the government are.

Ah okay interesting, and what about the seasons on your island? Are the winters different from the summers?

Yes, the summer is way busier than the winter. The population increases at least four times. All kinds of people come here to stay in summer resorts. The Princes’ Islands is a very popular destination to spend your summer. In the winter there are a lot of fishers. Of course, I enjoy myself more in the winter. The peace and calmness in the winter is great, but the summer is also quite pleasant.

Okay, and do you see yourself ever moving back to the mainland?

Hahaha, I told you how old I am, so I think I’ll just stay where I am now.