For me Istanbul is
not a city. It is a smell. It is a yellow light in a window at night reflected on thick
velvet curtains pulled tight, behind which lives I don't know, have never met, are being
lived. It is the voice of the muezzin sounding a sad prayer that enters my soul and floods
my whole being, pulling me into different directions all at once. Istanbul is an old
woman, frail, wrinkled, eyes reddened from age, white hair brushed loosely back sitting in
her faded nightgown in the late afternoon before the window of her living room, looking
out expressionless at the people that go by. Istanbul is houses where crocheted cloths
cover television tops and side tables. It is the smell of a glass of fresh brewed tea on a
cold day and warming by the heat of a wood stove. It is the smell of fresh baked bread and
the crisp sound of a piece being pulled of as steam rises to bring forth the smell.
Istanbul is the Bosphorus lapping against an old boat that carries me to the evening
lights of the other shore as sea air and the salt sprinkle across my face and the tired,
disillusioned, weary people on their way home from another long day at work sit indoors.
Istanbul is expectation, anticipation and hope in the air. It is relentless, pulling,
tugging at me never allowing my attention to drift elsewhere.
When I grow weary of her and often I do for she overwhelms me, tires me and
pulls me down, she takes me on a boat ride to watch the sun set over the Topkapi Palace,
or to listen to the sea gulls cry over cobble stone streets where children run home to the
voices of their mothers, who hang out of windows and call them in for dinner. And before I
realize Istanbul has once again become a swelling in my heart, an excitement and
anticipation and joy I can't seem to explain for which no reason I can find.