Yesterday was a turning point in my relationship with Istanbul. This city is no longer just a place I am visiting; it is quickly changing to a place where I am content. I do not have this feeling of contentment in new locations often, so I am observing myself. Am I growing old?
The 6:00am call to prayer by countless mosques, now starts my day. Inshallah, in God’s grace! I am indeed relaxing; I must confess, I cheat, roll over and find ways to get comfortable again. Breakfast can wait. Today will be another day of mindless wanderings, chasing the pulse of humanity up and down streets. I am craving new streets and new street scenes, every day.
I remember this feeling in Antigua, Guatemala when I wanted to absorb everything. It is impossible, but it is a feeling that goes deep. It seems strange but I see many similarities between Istanbul and South America; obviously, not in the geography but in the tone of the people. Geography changes, but people make a nation. Istanbul is a house with many, many windows, each one opening into a new vista.
The day was spent wandering the streets. Watching people I realize that they can actually smile, say hello and are indeed friendly. I have found the way to answer “Where are you from ?” in such a way that salesmanship is not the issue. I have realized that the Turks love to banter; truly love to banter. They have a deep sense of humour.
I went to The Grand Bazaar a living monument to the greed of the buyer and the seller. Every price is negotiable and every effort is made to fleece the buyer for as much money as possible. That is how North America thinks.
However, the reality is the exact opposite. This is social intercourse at the purest level. The buyer and seller engage in bantering to get the fair price for the seller and for the buyer. He claims hard times, and you claim huge drug costs…:) After many tears, on both sides, a price is arranged with smiles and friendship. Work in any nation is difficult. Why not lace it with some honest fun? Price negotiation is fun and fairness is the only objective.
It was another day and the love affair grew and matured. I am growing to feel the pulse and it is a good feeling. This actually is a place where I could return and learn much.
Walking back to the hotel, I was amazingly content.