I was not supposed to go there. First time – because of the traffic, thieves and all other sins of a big metropolis. I entered Asia through Aivalik, having persuaded Turkish ferry captains to take me over without a charge. I made it then, and it gave me some optimism looking at that huge country I yet had to cross, later realising, that everything, not only the map, but everything in Turkey was overdimensional – roads, houses, tomatos, lorries. I hated Turkey at that time and then I could hardly imagine, that this vast piece of the earth would take me in its ban so, that I would mingle at the boarder to Syria so long, hiking on the seashore, that I would get from Turkey day too late. On the boarder it meant that I just broke the Turkish law and have to face the consequences. Either I should not enter Turkey for five years, or pay a fine.
Having lost a reasonable amount of money already trying to fix a broke camera – something I swear will not do again – I was pretty run out of cash. But having had a look at the map, that the only possibility to get to Georgia would be through Iraq or flying, I looked back from the boarder, where the country lay with its peculiarities I started to enjoy, where my few frases of Turkish would make people laugh along the road, and where I – true indeed – managed to loose my mind for someone, how could I decide not to come to this country again? Then I made my concious decision. I do want to go back to Turkey, to Kurdistan still to descover, to Lazistan, and someday – to Istanbul I have yet not been to.
I was not supposed to got there. His familiy is in Istanbul. If they would discover – there is a woman, not even Turkish, he would loose the support of his family. No, I was not supposed to got there. And it was not on my way then anyway.
I prefer to go to places with the reason beyond just seeing them. While traveling through Romania together with the couple of troubadours, Boris and Emma, who happened irreversably to get stuck in my heart, we would seek for natural reasons to go to places. One time a miller asked to bring several, maybe 8 kg of flour to the next village, where his friend opened up an Italian restaurant, we would take the route to bring the flour. My first and last time in Rome I was together with another hunded thousands demonstrating against the Moratti reform of education. Igne, my closest companion and cousin of that time would say holding a transparent, watch, on our right is collisieum, and then a second later we would join other crying out, bologna e rosa, e rosa de vergona. It had absolutely its sense to have few activist tourists, since after a while, when it was clear that policemen where blocking everything, all those masses of people where standing until the activist noticed, that we hold a Roma map in our hands. We must have been the only idiots in this crowd of Italians from Torino, Neapoli, Milano, carrying a map of Roma for demonstration.
I was coming to Istanbul now. I heard many dissapointing comments on it already. After Damascus I thought it would be hard to cope with the Orient replaced by the western modernity in Istanbul. I came not to see Istanbul. I came to meet Susie, a friend and colleague of mine. It would be my first time in Istanbul. And I must say, my heart was in this light Christmas tension, where you are not supposed to expect anything, but silently you know, there will be things happening.
Wiedererkennungseffekt, they say in German, when they mean an emotion or some kind of brain activity, when you see or hear something already familiar to you. I must say, I was overwhelmed by this effect already in Vienna and Cologne, going to small shops and hearing Iraqui Arabic or Anatolian Turkish. Yes, Germany opened up for me as a completely new world, watching movies Kebab Connection and Gegen die Wand brought me to new dimensions of it I havent realised years while living there. Germany was far more Turkish and Arabic than I realised it. Now, looking for the right bus to the city center and collecting the firsts compliments for my splendid Turkish I felt almost at home riding through the block houses on a big highway that I would usually despise.
Why is this? A place, where my brain is busy processing all the negative facets of women oppression and dominance of males, the saying Turkiye cok guzel, supressing any questions of ethnicities like Laz and Kurdish, why do I get attached to Turkey? Bilmem. I guess, I like the language I say to myself and dive into the city. Eis tan polis, as the Greek saying goes, that replaced the Byzantine Constantinopolis. Eistanpol. Istanbul.
I just got off the tram and was about to look for that hostel, where Erte, a friend cyclist stayed in winter. Trying not to be distracted by amazingly blue evening sky, and all the orchards around the blue mosque, I was following my plan to get off the bag of my shoulders, as suddenly. I did not really understand what was happening except that I was attacked. Almost fell down, and the giggling of some familiar voice let my brain switch and grasp what it was all about. The troubadours, having travelled India and Pakistan did a surprise for me. Going back to Europe, they droped by in Istanbul to find me…
There is this phenomena, that one appreciates people, when they shift from the presence shelve to the memory. The longer I did not see them, the clearer came the images of us discussing in the middle of the road, how we should deal with Gypsy children next time they approach us, breaking in some house for a night in the Carpatian mountains leaving it decorated and cleaner than before us, reparing our broken spikes for innumerous times, while talking about universe and everything until we realised that the sun was setting and we cycled only five kilometers that day. I, the lonely wolf, got attached to them as if we were blood brothers, and I would be the first one to go in order not to bear the pain of being left. I really liked them. And now everyone was on his and her own track. But now they made our frantic trajectories meet! We were on the same spot, where our spaces and time became one small dot. On the map of Istanbul, next to the Blue Mosque.
We were like stray dogs, waging our tails, until we set off to stray for a while together, first sitting under the trees and pouring out stories of Georgia, India, Pakistan… Still, when I write this, a shiver goes through my back, when I realise, how little and how much one needs to feel extremely happy. And if people would not turn around to look at Boris and Emma with their funny troubadour clothes and ragges, I would almost think they are angels, and it is only me, who sees them.
Few days later, Susie, an amazing person and friend, actually a burocrat from London, being able to produce infinite amounts of laughing gas, joined us. We moved to a strangest place to live in Istanbul – a japanese house in Sultanahmet, where even the plastic bags had their specific japanese sound getting through the thick brain layers to the dreams. We were best company ever, discovering and getting lost together in Istanbul.
I was wondering, if there is a reason, why birds make circles above the minarets of the mosques in Istanbul? Does everything has to have a pragmatical reason, or can it be, that birds just like it? Estheticaly? There was no practical reason for us to stray in Istanbul, not even seeing the touristic places. We would go whenever our feet, or a vapor would bring us, meeting a kurdish socialist shoemaker, who would not take money from us for repairing Boris worn out shoes, we would meet some youngsters in Cengelkoy on the shore of the Bosphorus and would amazed about their zeal while stopping next to a cemetery starting to pray at a sudden, having chats in the balik restaurants with kurdish waiters, who would roll down laughing of pleasure hearing us say Chidiki?, a phrase meaning how are you in kirmanje, Kurdish dialect, but which would not come over the lips of any Turkish, enjoying our conversations and just hanging around together.
There was one thing I admited them once. We were in Uskudar, eating Balik ve Ekmek, fish and chips, ehm, nop, bread. I want to see, if the place, a small fast food restaurant, where he works, if it exists. Maybe it was all a big lie. They smiled at me. The strong woman as I looked in their eyes when we met, traveling alone by bike and dealing with life as if it where three oranges to juggle, was now a naive girl with big eyes, wondering how can things happen like this, whereas they would have several pragmatical answers I did not want to believe.
We went. I did not know how to interpret things. And needed just a sign to know. Why? Because he became strong muslim? Because his family would reject him? Because he was depressed? Because everything was one big lie? I was lost in all the interpretations. Is it called Durrak, Boris asked. I said, yes. It is there, he said, and he is there. We passed the place. I was too afraid to look inside. I could not decide, if I watched too many or too little Hollywood films before. I wished everyhing would solve itself like under the spell of some magic stick. But the stick was not there, it looked as if everything is frozen for ages, frozen food, frozen lives. He said once, I work since I am five, starting with polishing shoes, don’t want to work, but I would not know what to do with my life if I would not work. Kole gibi, like a slave. And we told to each other several times – see you in another life, because our present lives would be too different. And we managed to meet again in this life. And I still believed in magic. But magic is something you can not force. It is there, but maybe at the same moment it is at a different spot.
So we strolled and found magic everywhere else. The white foam of Bosphorus waters crossing it for the fith time and hiding in the cabins in order to stay on the boat, until we would get out in the Asian side and realise it was our last boat, dancing on the mall before the dawn, in order to stay awake waiting for the first boat, juggling and then pealing huge piles of artichokes on the market square in the middle of the night together with few workers, that do this every night, bumping into a mass of police cars after someone threw the molotov coctail into the bank, next day looking for it in the newspaper and realising there was an explosion in Ankara at the same time, looking for the best corba in Istabul, drinking inumerous glasses of tea with Mehmet, who decided to be a sufi after years of political science studies and running a coffee shop now, dancing with our mp3 players in the squares and parks like some figures from the Stummfilme surprising people around, even more dancing with bed sheets from the japanese house and not telling anyone it was a chador cha cha cha, sharing ever last cigarete we would smoke in our lives, until the day. And that day, even if I would be the nomad saying no good-bye, I waved them as I saw it people doing in animation films, but never in my real life.
They say, It is not possible to step into the same river twice. I say, it is not possible to step into the same city twice. Crossing waters. They went further to Europe. I went further to Asia. Istanbul like it was now, is over.