Monday, July 30, 2007

My last day in Istanbul

I spent most of it on a ferry going up and down the Bosphorus once again. In this photo journal I give you a glimpse of what I saw.
This is the map that IDO, the company that owns the ferry, gives out.
I walked from my hotel to the Eminönü ferry pier (see the bottom of the map), a bustling place!
Off I went on the churning water.

Houses (called yalis) from the 19th century are particularly beautiful because of all the gingerbread embellishments. Some of them are in uninhabitable condition. The European side of the Bosphorus, especially, is lined with palaces and modern houses. On both sides you can also see tiny beaches, makeshift sunbathing spots, ancient ruins and mosques. Two major bridges expand across the water. Of course, there are swimmers and numerous ships and sailboats everywhere.

The last ferry stop is at Rumeli, near the mouth of the Black Sea, then it turns around.

Each of the ferry stops has an architecturally and historically interesting building.

There are many images that I did not photograph but that are still very vivid in my mind, for instance:

On the roof terrace of the Sultan Hill Hotel, between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. Twilight. Only the calls to prayer can be heard, not in unison, but as if in a methodically choreographed sensual dance to call and response rhythms. The Sea of Marmara shimmering and its warm winds caressing me.

Driving around trendy Ortokoy. Midday in the worst of a gripping heat wave, trudging ever so slowly in thick traffic, but talking happily with a colleague in the comfort of her airconditioned car. Sudden silence. Out the window... a middle aged woman, dirty, wild hair, languid eyes staring in our direction, her bare breasts hanging, hanging long toward her belly.

The park in Uskudar. I am seated on a bench eating a simit. A man, his wife and their baby sit on the edge encircling a glorious fountain. The sound of splashing water synchronizes with the laughter of children. The wife picks up her baby, takes off his booties, lifts him way up high, then lets his toes touch the water's surface. He giggles. His father laughs boldy, the lines around his eyes gathering upward as his large hand extends to caress his baby's head. His wife smiles.

Walking back from the pier at Eminönü. Noisy. Congested. End of a long hot day. My feet are heavy. I am hungry. Ahead, up against the wall, there is a small brown bundle inside some sort of semi-clear green plastic. It moves. I'm startled aside. A young blackened face peers out and wimpers. I walk faster but in a block I am compelled to return to buy a simit and a bottle of water, which I offer to him, but he simply weakly shakes his head. Much much later, I eat the simit.

On Kennedy Boulevard, far from Sultan Hammet. I don't realize I've dropped my small package; when I do, I turn and see a woman, her head scarf blowing as she walks briskly toward me. "Thank you" isn't enough. Without thinking, I place my right hand over my heart and lower my eyes. Without thinking, she places her right hand over her heart and lowers her eyes.

At the entrance of the mosque in Bursa. An old man, wearing an uncomfortably smelly and worn caftan sits at the entrance, his hand extended, three fingers missing. His shriveled face contorted, deeply sunken eye lids revealing he has no eyes.

1 comment:

Sam Diomede said...

Your writing is amazing. I stumbled upon your blog as I was doing research on Istanbul. I very much relate to your sentiments growing up in Ohio and coming from an immigrant family.