Nothing’s better than watching the ships go down the Bosphorus Strait from my family’s vacation home in Kanlica, Istanbul, Turkey.
It’s not a fancy place, but the floor to ceiling windows give you a view you’ll remember the rest of your life. The place could probably use a remodel, in American terms. There’s a small flat-screen TV, but most channels are snowy.
When I was younger, every night we would eat out on the patio, which ends in a drop dead cliff. None of us children fell off, miraculously. Later on, none of the grandkids did, either. In Turkey, the safety rules were lax. It’s like that on the roads, too. Whatever God wants to happen, will happen. It’s not up to us because God knows all things. I swear, that’s the attitude.
But I’ve never felt more alive than standing out on that patio, looking at the sliver of sea, with majestic ships from Russia, England, and neighboring countries, floating in front of me. The water turns pitch black and the Istanbul lights dance, dance on the European side across the way. You hear music and cars honking, it’s just all there at a distance. It makes me want to call everyone I ever knew and tell them to come over to have a glass of raki.
Here in the States, we all huddle in safety in our own private caves, homes we’ve bought or rented, keeping to ourselves, scared we’ll reveal something that could be used against us in a court of law.
It’s a different society, another way of looking at life.
Try to learn about your neighbor. Where are they from? How did they get here? Not polite to ask?
These are the best questions.
I wish you were here the night my brother was married at the Esma Sultan Museum on the Bosphorus. Everyone danced until all hours of the night and even Orhan Pamuk was there. At 2 a.m., my brother took the stragglers out on a rented water taxi. I almost didn’t get to go because I’m not a good Near Eastern girl, never was. But it was so sweet, to meet the buildings on the Bosphorus just before the dawn, that I’m glad I got to go. The people who ran the boat passed out fish sandwiches and when we got off on the other side, we stopped at a café for a very early breakfast. The lights twinkled on, dawn came, we walked to my grandmother’s apartment and fell asleep in my grandfather’s study as the gray light seeped in.
I couldn’t see the Bosphorus, but I felt its magical presence everywhere.