Istanbul : 'By the time you read this I will actually be here'

Istanbul Travel Blog

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Vision upon my happy return to Istanbul. Sundown as me an' m'backpack cross the bosphorus

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.

'The Evil I' (Portrait)
  And I wonder as I imagine my own little travel circles whether on day 390 - more than half the count of those of a proposed two year journey - have I crossed the apex; the outer arc of my odyssey?  As I prepare to head 4,560 kilometres further away East am I technically, chronologically speaking, on my way home now? ... or not?

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.

  Strange times.  I've had recurrent daydreams about the "Big One" all my time in Turkey.  Now more so. 

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.

'Let the Rabbit to Tell Your Fortune' :))
*  "Yelp!".  Time to get me ass outta here!

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.

Flopsy fixes me with his mystic, twitchy gaze!
  Right? ... whassat?  Oh well, ya know, 'read' in the illiterate, telepathic, cute snuffly-nosed sense've the word've course.'

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.

Infront og the Blue Mosque
  'You Engleesh?'  Flopsy's human assistant asks.  'Yes.'  This determining the set of fortunes to be divined from.  A multi-lingual fortune telling bunny rabbit!  Damn.  Maybe lettuce is good  brain food after all?!

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.

Blue Mosque Interior 2
  He twitches his nose... a fortune is plucked, and my future is decided :

'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.

Evening at the Yenii ('New') Mosque
..'  YES YES YES!  Thank you Flops! Thank you!  '...you will be marry next soon.'  FLOPS!?!!!  Why you furry little, twitchy-nosed traitor!  Fancy comin' on all heavy with all that commitment cr*p when I'm still free and on The Road for another year!  F**king bunny rabbits.  Whadda they know huh?!  Nothing but sex on the brain ;)

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.

Eminonu seen from Galata Bridge after sundown
  'So what exactly will I require for my visa?'  They duly explained.  'And how long will I be able to have a visa for?'  Six months, six months, pleeeeease six months!  'Sir, what is the primary reason you have for visiting India?'  Can't just say tourism I figure so in a desperate attempt to sound impressive enough to deserve six months I blurt 'Well, I would like to do some writing in India.  I'm a...a writer.  So...um... basically travel... but with the purpose of writing.'  'Are you an author?'  'I'm an unpublished writer.'  'Okay.  Unpublished.  Please wait a minute.'  Whilst the phone holds I castigate myself 'What the f**k are you talking about?!?  Unpublished writer?!  Not a writer at all.
Why is almost any consumable I think of relating to sexual potency (oysters and pickled animal dicks being 2 other examples) always look about as sexy as plague.
  You frickin' idiot!'
  The line comes back live.  'Okay, we can give you six months.'   Yeeeeeeeeees! 

£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.

Carpet Kitty 2
  Nervous excited in that way that someone who thinks they might be in love maybe feels... but I'm not sure... 'cos I don't know about such things...maybe.  I've had many a daydream of my visit to the interior of the Indian Consulate.  Again my imagination getting the better of me in its desperation to secure a long passage to India.  In my imaginings I glide up the lift and am ushered into a small, formal room by a pretty lady in a sumptuous sari and asked again to explain my reasons for travel.  'Well'  I see myself starting excitably 'India is just... just... the number one destination I have wanted to visit all of my adult life.  Always and for so long and...and... it's like a country I feel I know so well, Iike I've lived there... I mean, not literally... but maybe literarily as it were, in books and movies and images all my life and to go, to actually finally go there well.
'Bands'
.. the idea just... just?... it's like excitement churning in my belly.  I have this feeling like... we say in Britain... having butterflies in your stomach... a nervous positive excitement like being in love... I am in love with India!'
  'But Mr Weselby, how can you be in love with someone you've never met?  Somewhere you've never been?' my imaginary interlocutor enquires.  'I just am, I just... I just... it's those butterflies in my stomach.  Travel Butterflies in my stomach.  You can't explain love.  You just have to visit it, to give in to its call and pursue it to give it shape and form perhaps?'  'I see Mr Weselby.' She toys with her pen and my fate.  I wake up.

In reality of course,  all that happens is I take the lift up, get my ticket and wait in line.

'Fruits'
  Number 9 but I'm kind and swap it with a South African in a rush who had number 10, so yes of course there are then 30 minutes and 12 people between numbers 9 and 10.  Maybe they held tickets 9.1, 9.2, 9.3 and so on?  Whaddya reckon? ;)

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.

  'No what I meant... what I mean is multiple entries would be nice, if possible, but not...'   She knows what I mean.  She toys with her pen and my fate.  Darn those travel butterflies!

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.

'Traffic'
  I stroll around lots trying not to spend.  Happy to be haunting Eminönü and the Galata Bridge once more.  The hypnotic melee of boats upon the Bosphorus.  With the passage of time I am happier here now. Very happy to be back in Istanbul.  It is undeniably a city of great colour, social texture and life.  A few more tourism grabs for me.  But not many.  I'm all done here for now.  The interior of the Blue Mosque (over-cluttered with chandelier suspension cables and not that impressive) and the Dolmabahçe Palace (elegant and attractive in an over the top neo-Baroque kinda way).  Right at the last minute I happen across my absolute favourite mosque I've visited in Turkey.  Tiny unassuming 'Little Aya Sofia' tucked about 10 minutes walk west of The Blue Mosque.  It is simple, elegant, beautifully sparing in its decor.
  White, blue and empty and serene.  An absolutely beautiful space to get away from everything and let your mind and soul unwind.   

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.

Howling at the moon :)
  So my three teas and my book every day here in Istanbul is a rare moment of my feet touching the ground.  Mundane.  Repetitive.  Relaxing.  Necessary.  Normal.

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.

Old wooden Istanbul.
 

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

Transitory says:
"Do I have a significant roll to play in the achievement of a firm and lasting World peace?"

It's been said that peace is to be gained with a knife, so perhaps a butter knife? :)
Posted on: Oct 07, 2009
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Vision upon my happy return to Ist…
Vision upon my happy return to Is…
The Evil I (Portrait)
'The Evil I' (Portrait)
Let the Rabbit to Tell Your Fortu…
'Let the Rabbit to Tell Your Fort…
Flopsy fixes me with his mystic, t…
Flopsy fixes me with his mystic, …
Infront og the Blue Mosque
Infront og the Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque Interior 2
Blue Mosque Interior 2
Evening at the Yenii (New) Mosque
Evening at the Yenii ('New') Mosque
Eminonu seen from Galata Bridge af…
Eminonu seen from Galata Bridge a…
Why is almost any consumable I thi…
Why is almost any consumable I th…
Carpet Kitty 2
Carpet Kitty 2
Bands
'Bands'
Fruits
'Fruits'
Traffic
'Traffic'
Howling at the moon :)
Howling at the moon :)
Old wooden Istanbul.
Old wooden Istanbul.
Postcard number 123 : By the time …
Postcard number 123 : By the time…
Blue Mosque Interior 1
Blue Mosque Interior 1
Blue Mosque Interior (abstract)
Blue Mosque Interior (abstract)
Blue Mosque carpet
Blue Mosque carpet
Eminonu and the fish sandwich boats
Eminonu and the fish sandwich boats
The Mavi Guesthouse cat adopts my …
The Mavi Guesthouse cat adopts my…
Fortune slip n cay
Fortune slip 'n' cay
Istanbul (Tree Print)
Istanbul ('Tree Print')
Boats on the Bosphorus
Boats on the Bosphorus
Bosphoruus Boat (abstract)
Bosphoruus Boat (abstract)
Looking over to Beyoglu.
Looking over to Beyoglu.
Bosphorus junk (abstract)
Bosphorus junk (abstract)
Carpet Kitty 1
Carpet Kitty 1
Tram Tracks (abstract)
'Tram Tracks' (abstract)
They call him Mr Waterbutt Head :D
They call him Mr Waterbutt Head :D
Galata Bridge fishing
Galata Bridge fishing
Galata Bridge fishing equipment
Galata Bridge fishing equipment
Evil Eyes are everywhere! :)
Evil Eyes are everywhere! :)
Little Aya Sofia door (detail)
Little Aya Sofia door (detail)
Serene dome of Little Aya Sofia
Serene dome of Little Aya Sofia
Prayer Beads
Prayer Beads
The disrtict heading out west from…
The disrtict heading out west fro…
Home 1 (abstract)
Home 1 (abstract)
Home 2 (abstract)
Home 2 (abstract)
Broken down old Istanbul.
Broken down old Istanbul.
The Scales
'The Scales'
Orient
'Orient'
Park Slumber
'Park Slumber'
Moped
'Moped'
Sitting down near my favourite cay…
Sitting down near my favourite ca…
Istanbul
photo by: Memo