Sunday, September 9, 2012

Daily Things

 I snapped this shot on the way back from the police station.  There were so many things about this day... and this scene captured much of it.

A small number of new teachers had been scheduled to make our appearance at the large institutional police station in order to apply for, and be issued our residency cards.  We were driven to the site in a service bus.  Buses have become a significant part of my life.  The trip was long and hot. The experience of passing though a series of security checks was a bit harrowing as was the chaos of humanity waiting for exactly the same thing we were there for.  There was a crush of people streaming into the hall that led to a small and dilapidated waiting room.  The system was neither expedient nor systematic.  Picture a stairway leading up to another security checkpoint, the walls were light yellow with patches crumbling here and there, and at one point, a poor man came up the stairs dragging a steep at a time, a wheelbarrow full of mortar for some repair somewhere.  People were crowding and surging mainly towards an old wooden door that periodically opened.  When it did, people came tumbling out of it, and a new group of applicants were called in by name.  At one point, a young woman burst out of the door weeping loudly at some obvious halt in her processing.  That gave us all a bit of a fright.  In the end, we were also called in, and then one at a time...
"Andrew America!, Matthew America!  Connie America!"...  a brief albeit very serious interview with yet another person who made sure we were here for good reasons.   As we left, there were literally hundreds of extremely stoic police swat members in black uniforms and VERY BIG GUNS standing around the streets in front of the station.  One of the teachers (from Canada) desperately wanted her picture taken with one of them, and asked quite politely if she could do so... and was quite unpolitely told NO and to move on post haste.  Well.....

In the end... we got our cards.  Such an old old place with such deep levels of bureaucracy... and yet, the Valens aquaduct, built several hundred years ago in the Byzantine era to water a city from the melting snows of faraway mountains... still stands in part.

 Istanbul manages to effectively and quickly transport 18 million people to and from various places round about these seven hills.  Turks give up their seats on buses to women with children, and the aged.  They are polite and sometimes helpful.  They are bright and cheerful, passionate and romantic.  They are my neighbors. May GOD bless their country.

This is my neighborhood.  The entire city is for the most part covered with similar blocks of apartments.  Not all are as nice as ours, and not all are as simple as ours.  With the exceptions of palaces, mansions, and a few lovely enclaves of single family dwellings... most of the population (us) live in places like this.  I used to hate the though of apartment dwelling.  But it makes maximum use of the land and is less wasteful of resources in the long run.  I do miss the wilderness of my old neighborhood, which after all was a very large wood and all of a few houses scattered over many square miles.  I have however become quite used to this kind of life.  I do not drive and that also has its benefits, as my health and stamina have significantly improved now that I am so mobile and active.  Though the school is only a 2 or 3 minute walk from my apartment, even that is a hike.

Most of us make this trek several times a day.  The markets are located either below or above... so one must exert oneself if groceries are to be procured.   The water here (as in most of Europe) is not drinkable from the tap.  We have to order our water or buy it from the store.  I prefer ordering.  My water delivery man is quite nice and I enjoy his sense of humor and his happy nature as well.  He is quite forgiving of my terrible Turkish .
I want to take a picture of him, but I don't know how to ask without embarrassing him (also I just don't know how to ask.)

If I am not too tired, I trek down to Ortakoy district to shop.  I shopped in both of the large western style (sort of) grocery stores at first, but have come to realize that it is much better to buy from the small businesses that supply specialty items.  I can still get my tp and detergent from Migros.  But there is nothing like fresh peppers, chiles, eggplant, bread, flowers, chicken, lamb, etc.  In turn, it seems to be a custom, that once you are a return customer, better deals are to be had, and every now and then a lovely little token of gratitude may find its way into your bag.  Tonight, I am having... before I go to bed... a small little cookie made of wheat and nuts, soaked in honey and sprinkled with crushed pistachio dust.  They melt in your mouth and are highly addictive and somewhat euphoria inducing.  These are some of the daily things that make up my life at this point in time.  Tomorrow I will work with children who come from all over this world.  I am so grateful.

 I love my family and my friends, and miss them much, but I also know that these are eternal bonds, and distance or circumstance cannot break those ties.  For now... I am forging new ties in a new land, and everyday brings adventure.  Even the simplest of tasks. 


  1. Gracias por tu post y tus comentarios. Creo que tengo que escribir mi comentario en español por los nuevos "ties in a new land" que estás forjando de todos los colores y lenguas del mundo. Te deseo lo mejor en esta nueva etapa, que estés receptiva para aprovechar todo lo que la vida te brinde y de igual forma, nos des algo de ti. Un abrazo, Connie, ha sido toda una sorpresa conocerte aquí. Loida

    1. Gracias por tus palabras de apoyo y tipo. He sido muy complacido de poder conocerte y otros aquí. Estoy ciertos que Dios ha diseñado muchas de nuestras conexiones, y estoy agradecido cada día para que usted y otros nuevos amigos. Esperemos que estas son relaciones que se forjó por toda la eternidad. Abrazo a usted también.