Istanbul : 'By the time you read this I will actually be here'
Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 214 of 268 › view all entries
Circles within a Circle, Return
Well here we are. Another little loop. A circle. A circuit closed. Circles within my circle of the globe. A little return. I’m back in the ‘Bul. I wonder if anyone calls it that? I hope not. Circles within circles. Like ripples.
I envisage a map of the world with the little concentric circles of my travels fanning out and fading upon it. I like the way ripples play on water. If you stare long enough at a puddle or a lake beset by rain drops I find after a while that it becomes hard, as the circles arc out and intersect each other again and again, to tell whether they are blooming outwards from their epicentres or shrinking back inwards and returning to them. A hypnotic pattern or process.
It's been raining heavily here in my absence. The heaviest rains for nearly 100 years they say. A well televised flood. 32 or so souls claimed. Sad times for a city. But sunshine kid, back in town, six days so far and I ain't yet seen a single drop of the ol' liquid misery strike upon the ground. An earthquake in Konya too. Magnitude 4.7 on the Richter scale. None dead.
The "Big One"? North Western Turkey sits upon three major tectonic fault lines. Pressure is building between them with devastating consequences as witnessed in the region 10 years and 1 month ago when a 7.4 magnitude quake left 20,000 dead and half a million homeless. The "Big One" is the informal name given to the magnitude 7.5 - 7.7 quake that experts in Turkey's Kandali earthquake research centre believe has a 60% chance of occurring within the next 30 years. It will happen at some point either way and when it does the Istanbul municipality Disaster Coordination Center (AKOM) estimates this will damage 75% of the city's 1 million plus buildings, leave between 70 -90,000 dead and half a million homeless.
Flopsy and the Future
So what's changed in Istanbul since last I paced its streets? Not much. As you'd expect. One curious new addition though. Sprung up all over, a host of fortune telling bunny rabbits. Seriously! I swear they were not here before. It's like all the tired tobacco-stained street entrepreneurs got together - a curb side committee meeting - to decide upon some ingenious new money making skit and this is what they came up with. 'I know! We could get some bunny rabbits right. Right? An', an' and we could put 'em on this box right. Right? an' fold up these little bits've paper 'n' get 'em to read peoples' fortunes right.
So, here we go. 1TL (£0.40p) for bright eyed and bushy tailed little Flopsy here to take a nibble at my fate. To furrily foretell my future. Will my journey continue happy and safe? Is the "Big One" coming? Will India be everything I've always hoped it would be for me? Do I have a significant roll to play in the achievement of a firm and lasting World peace? (Probably not)... and most important of all of the burning questions of my life, when, oh Flopsy, may I next hope to get laid?
Flopsy, momentarily denied his dog-eared lettuce leaf snuffles his nose. In a way that denotes mystic communion with the stars? I can't tell.
So c'mon Flops. Do it for me. Think bunny rabbits. Think bunny rabbits. What do bunny rabbits do Flops? What do bunny rabbits do lots and lots and lots. Thiiiink bunny rabbits. 'Buh-uh-uh-ungh-ungh-UNGH-UH-UH-EEE-EEE-EEEEEE!!!' rabbits. Flops, snuffles. The knowledge of All of Time and the Universes, the Mystic Auras of the Worlds knowable and unknown and all their peoples and the Stars flashing in the deep black spheres of his eyes. Possibly.
'02. Hey youl Intended' I can't quite read the first bit properly. The quality of my photocopied slip of fate (fortune number '02' of the presumably infinite list of Mens' destinies available it would appear) is pretty poor. Yes, Flops is very adept at photo-stating the future from the stars. 'You have so much problem at this times.' Um? Well, not really, unless Flops you mean my prevailing lack of sexual intercourse of late? 'But don't worry everything will be ok.' Phewf. So, does that, uh, mean I'm gonna get laid soon then Flops?! 'Somebody will make you happy.
Butterflies and Visas
Back in Istanbul. But my thoughts are all consumed by India. My next destination.
This was true here even six weeks ago when I phoned the Indian Consulate General to make my first enquiries. I called up, my mind immediately melting with excitement at the sound of the rich feminine Sub Continental patter of the accent that greeted my ear.
£63 poorer and six weeks later I'm back at the consulate clutching in my hands, amongst other things, the required Letter of Recommendation (or 'Note Verbal' ) from Her Britannic Majesty's Consulate General who apparently have 'the honour to inform the Consulate General that Stephen Andrew Weselby [...] wishes to visit India'. A proposition about which they assure they 'have no objection'. I should think not for £63 and three minutes admin time. My frickin' country! Thanks muchly Your Royal Madge ;P
As I explained to a friend recently. I'm nervous about India.
In reality of course, all that happens is I take the lift up, get my ticket and wait in line.
I eventually hand over my papers, passport, photos and dosh (USD$50, yes about a third of the cost of the f**king 'Note Verbal' from my own money-grubbing government!). 'Um there's just one point I may have caused confusion with' I splutter drawing the lady (not pretty, no sumptuous sari) to the section of my papers headed 'Visa Type Required' where I've ticked two boxes ( '2 entries required' and '3 or multiple entries required' ) rather than one. 'I mean... what I mean is... I will probably stay in India. I don't have any plans to leave...' 'What, EVER?' the lady asks with mock serious 'no we don't offer Forever visas sir' tone, toying with my flapping idiocy.
By the time you read this I will actually be here!
And there you have it. I write this on the Friday 18th September, but I reckon's I won't get to click the 'Publish' button on these words (hey, I am a published writer after all! Thanks TB! ;) until I'm in New Delhi or beyond. And, despite my flapping, I have my Indian visa. And my butterflies. And I'm so happy. Six months in the Sub Continent! A dream come true.
Just a little time left now in Istanbul and Turkey. An 'admin week' mainly. I post a bunch of cr*p home in a failed attempt to significantly lighten my load.
Away from The Sights I'm at my most happiest chewing a balik ekmek (fish sandwich) or raising my finger for yet another tea at my favourite (no name) çay house in town. 'Bir çay ah!' ( 'One tea!' ) the nice moustachioed man with a limp cries once more. They're used to me now. Part of the daily routine. Don't undervalue daily routine people. As a stateless, aimless drifter right now I no longer take 'routine' - the little daily acts that compose normal life - so much for granted. Lack of small personal daily rituals of comfort and familiarity become a profound omission after months on The Road.
I write and send post card number 123 to my Nan in Nottinghamshire. Another cherished member of the peripheral family succumbed to cancer two days ago. (I'm so sorry Colin). Sadness again. My eldest cousin has his driving test in two weeks time. My sister's in the middle of an art exhibition in Arnhem. Future facing aspirations. My Cypriot 'nephew' Little Baby C is apparently 'not so little anymore!' and, at 3 months, already mastering the art of the strategic scream. Life keeps turning new pages too. Ramadan has come to an end. Eid starts today and it's time for me to leave Turkey.
Postcard number 123 depicts a flattened map of the world; a red line pointing to Türkiye and proclaiming 'I'm here'. To it I add a blue biro line pointing to New Delhi accompanied by the legend 'By the time you read this I will actually be here!'
* ‘Bricks and Mortar : Istanbul ill prepared for the “Big One” ‘ (Sept 2009) www.businessneweurope.eu