Istanbul is for the most part a very clean city. So clean that the only litter on the streets are cigarette stubs. So naturally, on my first night bar hopping with some friends, when we had settled into waiting for our cocktails, smoke in the bar wasn’t a big deal. There weren’t that many people in the bar though, so maybe we could have evil-eyed the smoker in our midst and gotten him to stop.
Truth be told though, i like cigarette smoke. I’m fine with people smoking around me. Bars and clubs feel odd to me when they are smoke free. (Perhaps why I like going to terrace so much.) But i digress. So here we were, after a decent dinner, and tasty shots elsewhere, we were sitting on this terrace in the bar district or rather on the street of flowers, waiting for the cosmopolitan, margarita and turkish coffee to arrive and we smell something. so naturally, in smoke filled turkey the question is: “who’s smoking that?”
Stevie, starts to cough, and then all of us join in. An then everything in our nasal passages starts to burn. People in gas masks start walking by in a steady stream. We move off the terrace and sit inside. It’s still light outside. The burning intensifies.”I think it’s pepper,” says Anna. I think we should stay for ten minutes to drink our drinks and peace out, I say.
My drink arrives. The others are taking forever. Our eyes, noses and throats are still burning. People are walking by with gas masks that look heavier. Stevie walks up to the bar and cancels her drink. I down mine with adrenaline-inspired swiftness and we start to book it. I am disoriented. This is bad because I am the navigator and seeing as i am not particularly competent and cannot find landmarks, we end up following the crowd. We end up in a subway station where so many people are trying to get past the bars or frantically buying tickets, waiting for the tram to arrive. I try to tackle the machine. Leave it, chorus Anna and Stevie. We’re not going to figure this out. i push ten lira at the machine for a pass and the machine throws it back at me. We can hear protesters singing. We can hear what should be fireworks going off. It is no longer easy to shrug off the danger we are in.
The machine finally swallows the note and throws out a three pass card. We go through the turnstiles and wait. The singing intensifies. The subway arrives. I dont know where it is going. If it goes forward, we will be even deeper in the ‘pepper’. The doors eventually close. We hope we are safe, we hope we are heading in the right direction. we hope.
A man, with tattoos on his left arm and calf, half-covered by his black shirt and cargo shorts hands us something. It takes a split second but we realise that he is handing us wipes. His eyes are redder than ours, he has been deeper into the mayhem than we have. Here he is, offering some relief in a subway crowded with fear and half-empty with living bodies. Tense, we take three out but drop one. We do not speak Turkish, we do not know whether or not he speaks english, but we say thank you anyway. I make eye contact with him for a second and think of how touching this moment is. I feel like i should be writing this post about this man, who coughed really hard, after he had handed everyone in the tram car a wipe. I wanted to call him an unsung hero, but was afraid to dishonour him with such a trite tribute.
“Guys, I dont think that was pepper” I say.
The tram rolls to a stop. We can hear singing, we can hear our own fear. We are not the only ones who are startled by this singing. There is a man, with red-ringed eyes telling the story of his journey to Taksim. Is this our stop we wonder? The unsung hero says to us that this is the last stop, so we get off and find ourselves across the bridge. A decent walk away from where we are staying. We veer off the main road and into a sketchy alley that screams “this is where dumb tourists get robbed.” Our hearts pound more than they should.
We make it home. We start to laugh about the tear gas. We got hit guys, haha. Not really though.
I wanted to hug that man. Istanbul suddenly seemed more beautiful. The city with tear gas among the ruins, across the river.
Man, I love princeton.
That’s a picture of our oldest living alum riding in the P-rade. He graduated in 1935.
There’s no way you can go here and not bleed orange. The level of school pride is honestly out of control.
I’m excited about marching in the P-rade when I am old too.
Princeton love runs quite deep.
of multiple spaces. this one included.
5 am survival kit.
I have stated that I am discontinuing this blog. I think this process will be one of steady decay. Going cold turkey tends to not be my style. Although forward-looking blogging I will be doing will be here.
I have been sitting on a few things, which I will try to hash out so I can get to bed and be up in time for class tomorrow morning.
The most interesting thing about seeing the Istanbul protests, was that the shops were still operating and playing songs off the latest Daft Punk album. It was this indifference juxtaposed with the calmest yet most passionate and organized protesting I have ever seen (not that I have seen that much protesting anyway.)
That life will change becomes a constant, as does discontent, I have learned. What I have learnt to value is honesty, which applies to verbal as well as personality-based honesty. It’s not to say that lies aren’t sometimes better, but to say that honesty is objectively a good thing.
I am trying to be honest these days, and to be more. That’s what I’m up to this summer. That and I’m currently checking out Random Access Memories on Spotify. I will try to write more seriously,which may or may not include blogging. And Osibisaba will slowly come to a close after goodness-knows-how-many-years of blogging.
It’s always time for a new phase or stage in life, but who knows, maybe this new one will mean something.
was probably not a good idea. now I am sitting here with mixed feelings that I do not want to suss out.
I haven’t been running in about a month now. My knees have been fucked up post-rugby. Also my sprained ankle from March is still swollen?
I miss running. very very much