October 22. Eminönü, Old Memories, and Atilla.

Another late Turkish breakfast, and off I go to the old center. A ferry takes me to Eminönü, from there I walk into the park around the Topkapi palace, and… and… sounds like I have become a tourist again. But don’t worry, a real bedazzling experience lies just minutes ahead of me. Suddenly I stand on a square and I recognize the place. It is the train station where I got off and had my first glance of Istanbul eight years ago. Eight years ago, just a week before my life would change for the sake of a woman. I recognize the narrow steps up, and the restaurant where I had slept on the floor with a Slovenian couple – tables neatly put aside. I tell the people about it, and a guy REMEMBERS me, it’s crazy. I’d love to talk with him about time and where life has brought him, but I don’t speak any Turkish beyond the phrasebook. Besides, life has kept him here in this restaurant at Eminönü, obviously. I remember my Slovinian friend Eric and his girlfriend, who spoke those words to me, “You look so happy!” she said and those words have echoed in my head for years. And I was happy then with 22, and I am satisfied now, with 30, where life is taking me.
So, I go take some pictures of the mosques and bazaars for my blog. There are some interesting street scenes I manage to capture. This is a soulful city. Inside the Sultanahmed mosque I see a western looking veiled woman and I decide to talk to her. It turns out she is Russian and doing some sight-seeing after completion of a business trip. I propose to walk around togehter and so we do, alongside the sea of Marmara and the fish market. We have an interesting conversation over dinner, and wish each other good luck before she goes back to her hotel. I decide to go to, and Süphan, another couchsurfer, invites me. I take the ferry again and talk to a modern dance student, who is writing her thesis about the relation of creating and being created in dancing. She explains herself candidly and eloquently in English. Dancing let her find out so much about who she is. On the other side of the Bosporus two guys show me the bus to Marmara University, and on the bus sits Atilla. Atilla is a done-it-all cynic who tells me that I should be careful with my idealism. Regardless of what I say, he replies with this monotonous warning. It doesn’t matter how old and experienced I am, Atilla keeps talking stubbornly about the dangers of the world. Maybe he really means it, maybe he just wants to keep in charge of the conversation. It is annoying. I shouldn’t have said I am going down the Levante and into Africa, or that I have already been to some dodgy places (which I haven’t). Should have kept my mouth shut. Atilla doesn’t believe Kamiel is my real name, since it’s a Turkish name, and he warns me again when I get off at the right busstop. My host comes five minutes later and I spend the night in a room with a beautiful view. Perhaps the hand of Allah is guiding me and I don’t even know it, let alone Atilla? And don’t understand this as a cynical or blasphemous remark. Perhaps it is just the case. Can we work out the “perhaps” part over coffee?

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

One thought on “October 22. Eminönü, Old Memories, and Atilla.”

  1. A great post on a very magical place. Your photo from Galata Tower (?) captures the first apartment that I called home in this fabulous city.I hopw you'll find the time to write more on Turkey.

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