TTT22 #4 Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul. It is a bit of an X. An intersection. Absolutely variable. East meeting West, west meeting east; the middle of Eurasia so to speak. People meeting people. Cats meeting cats. Dogs meeting dogs. Everything in between. Out on the corners.


The Last Poets have so eloquently posited:
“The corner was our magic, our music, our politics
Fires raised as tribal dances and war cries
Broke out on different corners”

I’m on the tail end of a pedestrian 15 mile day, so I’m moving quickly back to my hostel bed. Room. I copped the private room to allow for a snore and stank free experience. Still walking another one mile of those 15. I catch a strange interaction between what appears to be a club girl and a garbage picker. Or a hoe and a bottle deposit redeemer. Or a pro and a pro. Unintelligible yet unmistakable. They looked like cindi lauper and Oscar the grouch yet that could be all the food I just scarfed with Ahmet. Ahmed. Depends on whether we’re speaking Turkish or Arab. Yo no se, pero si se puede. Um… either way it was so loving. This interaction between two randoms on a late night street. It was so open and so real in the moment for them, and by extension for me. The Turkish calories are in an intoxicatingely wonderful feeling intersecting this moment. Perpendicularly in fact.

I am where Asia meets Europe. Or Europe meets Asia. Turkiye. I’m stuffed like a turkey in late November USA, all thanks to this food tour I just hooked up. Istanbul has a vibe. I’ve been all over Europe and all over Asia, and the food and the city and the people of FKA Constantinople FKA Byzantium got a bit of both at every turn. Gatekeeper status too, considering how large the Ottoman Empire was and how hardcore they went to break it up. Literal First World War. Everything reminds me a little of each. Architectures swap styles, block by block. The whole thing is a visionary experience. An experientially channeled incident. I cringe at incident… it sounds like work. Sirens don’t do that but words do. Call up Rufus and get me in a phone booth and back to this holiday I’m on right now, like two weeks deep right now, right now. I’ve got a sleep cycle. It has patterns. My eyes have ditched their baggage. I’m walking 7-15 miles a day. The food is local and fresh and delicious. Pretty much everything. Every other responsibility that I have in life should thank your goddamn lucky stars that I can’t firefight remotely.

Foreign travel manifests in the nuanced differences between country-nation-states. Your typical thoroughbred Jesus-loving kid from Iowa wants to hear that America is special because of our freedoms on his first trip outside of the colonial white world. The reality around the globe is much more rooted in a cultural component. Space starts it all off. Some days, Barcelona gives all the space one could want, whether walking, bicycling, or in a motor vehicle. Some days, Fez Medina has us cramped into the tightest of mazes in search of a leather tannery. Sometimes, space changes quickly – like how know one bumps into on the streets of Tokyo all day and then I step on the train at rush hour and end up crowd surfing in a subway for the next 12 minutes. Probably the easiest to comprehend and concrete example of this is: How pedestrian traffic is conducted; aka how to cross the street. Nuances in style. Nuances in sustenance. Nuances in sex.

Every musician or busker in Istanbul is punk rock as fuck. Fiddlers and bucket drummers collaborate on a tirade against what appears to be the most conservative of the Allah fearing vacationers. In my mind it’s probably the Saudi. But I don’t know shit really. These dudes are going hard in their face as they walk. It’s seems so obvious to me what’s going on simply by the two different fashion senses each side has. Costume department tells me the whole story on this one. These mother fuckers can jam. I love it. I’ve been told by my yacht experience host (a half Turk from Cleveland yo!) that Turkey is secular. Cmon tho. The goddamn crescent moon and star is on a red flag, it’s ok for them to be a Muslim nation. Yet still, I feel like the Europeans feel like they won wars to call this Europe. Or at least Eurasia. So a lotta shit made it here that contradicts the entire idea of theocratic government. Then again though, who’s won what war, this place ain’t called Constantinople is it?

I take a trip to the intersections of my own life. My mind and personalities and behaviors. Sitting alone quietly in a cocktail bar. In a city full of 10 cent bottles of water and $1 beer I find a $12 mezcal cocktail with hostel-made friend Chris. She’s a a tall gorgeous blond from Miami. And super cool as fuck, my kinda humor and attitude. 220 lira. The cocktail, not the blond. But it’s bomb. Not the bombero. Im two deep in, doing a left hand search of my soul. Thinking about the man that I am and the coming years ahead of me. More than half way to retirement. And more than halfway between 40 and 50. As an extroverted introvert, I’m happily not engaged in conversation. Quiet contemplation suits me. I’m getting thoughts down, channeling the experience. As an introverted extrovert, I’m dying to chat it up in fluent American English. Social revelry is a skill I have mastered. I could be making acquaintances, taking a cultural dip in the pool. Two competing continents of myself, warring it out. In the end, I feel as if a third party candidate known as a mild-longing-for-a-familiar-friend wins out. On the corners.

Istanbul is truly dope. Where my well tested sense of direction meets my insane love of getting lost. Probably already one of my fave cities in the world, and this is just a brief 4 day visit.

About tonycaferro

Entrepreneur, Citizen, Marketeer, Fire Fighter / EMT, Bicycle-Tourist, Booking Agent, Youth Mentor, Activist, Agitator, Coffee Addict, Foodie, Social Media Nerd, Amateur Film Critic, Son, Brother, Uncle & Rust Belt Representative. Follow me on Twitter @dtr45
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