October 7, 2009

How I see it... Part 1

The following (there might be more later on) was written while I was in Istanbul...though I kept it as a draft. Not sure why though. Here it is...enjoy.

Walking through alleys to avoid big traffic-filled streets of Asian Istanbul...

Each time I get overwhelmed and with every new step the excitement grows and amazes me at the same time. Knowing the history of this city (ok, maybe not every single detail but enough to say I know it) and walking through streets, and alleys, passing by buildings you know cannot just exist like that but they do...you wonder what is hidden behind those old wooden, well, rotten walls and windowless holes. Feelings arise I wasn't aware of having anymore, or at all having. Plus, by looking at such old and lonely buildings I instantly want to restore them and make them as glamorous as they once were. Easier said than done apparently. I know what I'm talking about - my entire family knows how difficult it is to either make sure such a building stays in good shape or to create its old beauty back to how it may have been. The latter part, we are all very well aware of. There's a building on our street here that belongs to our family. Its location is my favorite reason for still having it. I don't want them to sell it. It overlooks the Bosporus and makes you watch and fall in love with the known silhouette of Istanbul with its two famous mosques and palaces at sunrise and sunset. What more is there to want!?! However, the building burned down years ago and vandalism ruined it a bit more. Why do people do that? I wonder. Either way, it is now protected by the city and the historical society and no one is allowed to enter (too dangerous anyhow) and so the difficult process of finding the right architects, designers, lawyers etc etc started. Part of it is done, though the construction is the worst kind. You may think it's easy to hire people to do the job for you but here it is a very different story. You have to be absolutely to 550% sure about the person you hire to do the perfect job and to really revitalize a house that once belonged to your family. After all it is part of your heritage, your history, your life, and you want it to be perfect (more than that actually). Plus, even if you are sure about the people behind everything you still have to check on them on a daily basis to make sure they won't steal from you or slack off. So far so good. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

One of so many buildings across town...

Though seeing all these old buildings makes me want to spend money...I want to buy all of them, restore them, and make cute little boutiques, hotels or cafes out of them. To live in such buildings (after they are perfect) will be an awesome feeling but also one that makes your bank account suffer a lot. I don't have the necessary funds. I wish I did. This city is becoming more and more a so-called big city just like New York. Nothing against NYC or Philly, or even San Francisco, Paris and London. I love them all. After all I am a big city girl! Though a city's charm is made out of its past and present and not about its future. Skyscrapers are seen everywhere and as much as I like modern architecture and modernism...I prefer the "original" houses. Istanbul has changed so much...way too much in my eyes... I know this city is growing...after all, having over 17 million inhabitants makes it an extremely large city. It is also the only one in the world standing on two continents. Two giant bridges connect the sides and this - on postcards - confuses people because at first glance they think it is the Golden Gate Bridge (or actually the Bay Bridge, but that one they hardly know).

On the way to the airport to pick up my cousin I saw buildings I hadn't seen before. They were literally growing out of nowhere looking like giant carrots or mushrooms. Crazy. Plus, the color? I felt like in a land filled with marshmallows and lots of candy standing around. It amazed but also shocked me. You would never think of getting culture shock in your own so-called home but oh my I sure do get shocked every time I return. Then again, it's what fascinates me the most. It's what captures my attention and lets me enjoy this country, well, this city to be exact.

There are no words to describe how I feel when I enter this city and learn new things each day. No words to describe how much I love those gross smelling areas and trash bags lying around (yes, I know it's all very gross but it's so "home"). No words to describe how much I love those crooked streets and walkways, and stray cats and dogs walking around the area and around you. No words to describe how I feel when I hear the regular pray caller (or whatever you want to call it)...I used to call it "the yell for prayer" but apparently (so, my mom said) it's not yelled out but it's soft singing...I wonder where the soft part is though. Anyhow, the way I see it I love it here. I always did. Of course, it's never always just nice and great here...there are moments when I cannot stand the smell, the people, the food, the cats and dogs, the beggars, the dirty streets, the super gigantic malls, and the obvious division between poor and rich. There are moments I just want to go back to the real western world.
Though, when I walk through the streets of Istanbul and see those dying buildings, with no windows and no color and no life I immediately feel an urge to do something. I don't feel like leaving anymore. It's like seeing a fifty dollar bill on the floor and picking it up because, hey, it is money!!! Those buildings are real charms to me, precious little (ok, huge) things and I do want to ask them questions...I do want to know what they know and heard of, and saw and just experienced. I'm more than just sure that what they could and would offer (if they could speak) would be worth writing down and worth knowing and learning about. Then again, the past always amazes me. Sometimes maybe too much. Then again, this is me. Maybe not you. I am hoping to take a lot of pictures of old buildings...whether or not they offer any interesting stories...the buildings themselves are marvelous enough.

This is my favorite building...wish I had the money to buy it.
Plus, it doesn't look as bad as all the others.

So, the way I see it Istanbul and its past, present and obvious future is one fantastic city...a melting pot where the world meets and once you enter it you will always return!

1 comment :

Sara said...

We'll find our calling, yes?
The way you described Istanbul reminded so much of home, where I live: Cairo!!


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