Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A walk down Istiklal Caddesi

Its Tuesday night and I've just returned from a friendly few drinks with some of my fellow teachers. I decided to come home to begin my nightly planning and to prepare some simple but nourishing food, a bit of rice with fried vegetables, all gathered from the Tarlabasi market on Sunday.

On my meandering walk back home to our flat in Tunel I enjoyed absorbing the sights, smells and sounds of this busy thoroughfare. Heading down from the bar, where we sat on the sixth floor terrace and watched seagulls and swallows fly through a lovely twilight sky, I headed down the street past busy restaurants and bars, full of people drinking and eating, enjoying life, and a lovely autumn evening. Onto Istiklal, I wandered past street vendors smelling roasted corn on the cob, and enjoyed the sweet earthy smell of freshly roasted chestnuts, being sold from bright red carts up and down the street.

Further down, there was an older man sitting on a stool strumming a lute. A young boy, maybe eight or nine, held a microphone for him. I walked by them, and could see only a few lira coins in the basket in front of them. The mournful tune followed me down the street, and I felt a pang of guilt for not putting a coin or two in their basket.

On further, I passed some lively bars and cafes, playing loud, rhythmic Turkish pop music, full of Mediterranean flare and exotic vocals, or sometimes live music. In one nearly empty bar, there was a man with a guitar, singing lively rock songs in Turkish, as his small crowd clapped along with great enthusiasm.

Still further down, a saxophone player gave a rendition of the theme to 'the Godfather'. Still further down, where the street gets quieter, there was another lute player. His beautiful haunting music seemed to echo in the quiet street as I turned the corner, nearly at our front door.

There, the noise and lively atmosphere returned, the nearby meyhanes, restaurants and cafes buzzing with people. Tables full of mezelar, bottles of raki, glasses of beer, people talking, laughing, enjoying life. I entered our building, walked down the hall, through the courtyard. As I entered our hall, walking down the marble stairs to our flat, I heard the sound of someone playing a xylophone. Pretty cool. Now I have to go cook. Write more later!

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