Sitting in the middle, somewhere in between:
- Between a history of empires and a present booming growth,
- Between traditional cultures and modern trends,
- Between continents,
- Between religions,
- Between adherence to regimes and civil society movements,
- Between the transitions of civilization.
Perhaps this is the appeal of this magic city: the intrigue, the mystery, the perplexity it reflects, while alluding of a desire to connect. The very nature of man.
Caught in between. Each of us.
Sitting in our own lives, influenced by our pasts, but racing towards the future, sometimes with direction, sometimes without.
By cluttering our lives with agendas, stories, things… we forget the now. Breathe.
Istanbul lives in its past and its future – but equally, in its now:
- In the sunshine at outdoor cafés, where patrons sip coffee and shisha smoke billows up to kiss the sky,
- In the seagulls catching drifts off monuments, towers and ferryboats,
- In the markets that sell carpets, spices, fish and pottery,
- In stoic dogs with bedroom eyes protecting abandoned buildings, and in lazy carefree cats sleeping in the sun,
- In the steamy waters and sweaty bodies at a Turkish bathhouse (hamam).
Istanbul lives in the flirtatious gestures of charming passionate men, and in the hearts of good-natured and curious women.
Istanbul lives in the sunsets that paint its mosques and palaces in gold; it lingers in the last bits of daylight, before embracing its evening splendor.
It teaches us that we must know where are coming from, before we can know where we are going. It reminds us that mistakes make life more colorful, like graffiti adorning its backstreets.
It whispers these secrets, on the wind blown through narrow alleys, on the waters of the Bosphorus or the Sea of Marmara; winds that waft past golden towers and through ruined mansions on the Princes’ Islands.
Its enchanted story is shared over coffee, a beer or shisha among friends or lovers…
Istanbul is a city, and it is a journey. I am happy my feet walked the same path, even if just for a moment.
**I recently returned to Istanbul, 9 years after my first visit. This is a (slightly updated) journal entry I wrote about the city in April 2006 when visiting a friend. I’m happy that 9 years on, the city offers the same sense of magic. The photos are reflective of both trips.