Fri 13 Jun 2008
Fireworks boom from somewhere to south, their flares sadly obscured by the apartment building across Hoczade Street. Seagulls cry, angry and upset, and head north over my head, their white underbellies glowing against the violet sky. The imams’ evening prayers call out as a car skids out from the parking lot below me. Occasional cheers and whistles erupt from a few blocks away—perhaps Turkey has won the football game.
I feel almost guilty for not going out on this Friday night, but I’m nursing the grumpy ending of a semi-hangover from two too many Efes beers yesterday, and the effects of today’s humid and languid heat. Anyway, I can see the blue TV-light from flats in the adjoining apartment building, so I can’t be the only person in the city not out on the maddening streets.
Istanbul is addictive that way. Like most truly large cities, there is always something going on. That constant activity manifests itself as the lyrics of a siren song to the city dweller, always chanting, ‘Just one more…’ And while I’m sure that the outlying neighborhoods become calm as the night falls, Beyoğlu is one of the most popular districts; the later it gets, the more people seem to flood the streets.
If little Hoczade Street is so alive with nightlife, then Taksim Square, just a few blocks away, must be a buzzing explosion of people coming up from the metro and the buses and the old tram, buying *simit* pastries from the sellers at their carts, meeting their friends in front of the Burger King, eating *döner kebab* and hamburgers from the fast-food restaurants around the square, and hanging around İstiklâl Anıtı, the monument to Turkey’s independence.
And İstiklâl Caddesi must be a rushing river of hipster humanity, the pedestrian boulevard swimming with the crowds promenading from Taksim Square, through the crazy intersection at Galatasaray, and all the way down the hill to the Tünel, where the world’s second-oldest subway takes its brief journey down to the dark shores of the Golden Horn.
[dateline Istanbul, Turkey]