Thu 5 Jun 2008 70 °F
Lost in Istanbul. Not exactly — I just don’t know where I am. I’ve gotten off the bus somewhat randomly, thinking I’m where I was trying to go, but finding I am not.
I can place myself vaguely: a neighborhood up the hill from Eyüp, southwest of the Golden Horn. The street culture seems more Arabic here, much more so than around Taksim: more head scarves, coats, more conservative clothing. Less fashionable, more everyday, more casual. The street is crowded and active, but nowhere near like around Taksim Square.
I’m eating a hamburger, of all things, at a Turkish fast-food joint along a shopping street. I overlook the street from the second floor of the restaurant, and flash back to Morocco — the viewing of life passing through the cafe’s buffer/filter of height and glass. No one seems hurried here: all strolling at about the same confortable, observing pace.
The girl downstairs at the pastry country says hello, asks where I’m from, and is surprised I am American. She says she’s from Iraq, and says America is very nice. I goof and reply the same about her country, and she says, emphatically, ‘No.’ A look comes over her face to say, ‘No, no — Iraq is not nice at all, and it’s America’s fault.’ I shrug, try to convey that she is correct, and that I am not to blame — she smiles, says, ‘Okay.’
[dateline Istanbul, Turkey]