Tonight I went to a birthday party at a local haunt. It was a good gathering with flowers and chocolate, gifts and hugs and kisses and conversation that sometimes dove deep. I went home early. I checked my bank account to see if the rent had been deposited. It hadn't. That makes almost 17 days overdue. I called my mom and my sister to just chat and to find some familiar land that was somehow safe and reassuring and loving. My mother spoke to me for about 1 minute. My sister, bless her, granted me a few more minutes. They are both busy. There is an errant sewer line under the house they must wrestle with. Saved me some skype credits I suppose.
I've been saying for a while that I wanted to post about the animals of my neighborhood. In Istanbul, cats and dogs are cared for in an odd and curious manner. But they are cared for. Scraggly and mangy and feral and sometimes unruly, they rest on the sidewalk, sleep in empty lots, become default mosque guards, take up residence in parks, follow gypsies on their rounds, or saunter across a terrifying boulevards (oftentimes causing me to cover my eyes and pray I don't have to witness shredded animal flesh mingled with auto and rubber). So far so good.
Not all felines are as fat and fortunate. This scraggly lot hang out at the water front near where I live ... begging for sardine heads, and fish offal. It can be a tough life. Makes for a good picture though.
This crew was hanging out near the Galata Tower. Everyone here takes a piece of feeding and watering these abandoned animals. Not all are loved, not all have a warm place to sleep at night, and it really is survival of the fittest on these streets of Istanbul for the animals that live here.... but cars will come to a screeching halt to avoid hitting one, and shopkeepers put out bowls of water and food and blankets. At one high end grocery store in an upscale neighborhood down the road, their cat gets his own condo and food bowl.
This is David taking care of his "van" cat. I never heard of a van cat, and to tell you the truth, as I write, I am too tired to do the research, so I'll just pass along the story David told me...the cat belongs to a specific tribe of cat found ONLY IN TURKEY in a particular area of Turkey. Their markings and eyes are highly specific and it is illegal to take them out of the country. They evidently fetch a nice price when sold outside of the country, but David would never do this. Instead he feeds and waters and talks to his cat and shoos off the much less valuable, but appropriately named stray... "Sylvester" who frequently comes to consume the food David lays out for his special friend. Sylvester is NOT a van cat. I kind of like the way he looks though. Reminds me of someone I once knew.
Not every creature is necessarily wanted, but in Istanbul... every creature can find a place to belong.