Sunday, 28 June 2015

Day 2: Cengelköy and rubber bullets

View to Europe from Asia

So for Day 2 of Da Fest, I decided I should head to Asia.
I know, I know. Ooof Asia!
What a show-off.
View to Asia from Besiktas
But it really is quicker to get there than it is to cross the Brisbane River and get to Ipswich. Ok. Maybe it is further than Ipswich but you can see it from Europe right!

Now in order to get to Asia you can cross by ferry at a number of different Iskeleler ( ports): Besiktas, Kadiköy, Karaköy, Eminonü. I chose Besiktas because I wanted to walk down through Nisantasi on my way. Nisantasi is one of the more ritzier hoods in Stamboul ( and thus it is only fitting that the one participant in this week long Fest should experience her delights - if only on the way to some place else!) It's a curious sort of place. Known for its extravagant shops and pretentious cafes but then wedged between them are High street chains, simit sellers and quite a ghastly shopping centre called Citties.
Tesvikiye Mosque

I like walking this way because (a) it is all downhill and ( b) it passes Tesvikiye Mosque which I find rather fetching. This mosque is absolutely the one you want to be eulogized in when you die and if you are a Turkish celebrity then there is a good chance you will be.  I also like it because it is one of the many peripheral characters in Orhan Pamuk's  Museum of Innocence.  I love this book but many I know do not. Fair enough. I think readers are understandably  put off by the obsessive (self-indulgent) way Pamuk Bey describes the forbidden lovers' relationship. Endless, circular details, tiring in topic and words. But at times beautifully crafted as well. And isn't that what forbidden love often is: obsessive, self-indulgent, circular, beautifully crafted at times? I agree though it is a self-indulgent piece that only a writer of his fame and resources could possibly get away with . But (and here's my small but) if one only views this book through the prism of Kemal and Fusun's relationship then I think the reader is doing the book a great disservice. For if one reads carefully, there is another love affair going on here.  The writer's love affair with Istanbul. The sound of ship horns rising out of the fog, the perilous nature of dolmus rides, Yalis in summer. This is the true beauty of the book and I will never tired of reading his homage to her.


There is even yet another reason why I love the mosque and it is because it is very close to Fat Dog who can generally be found lounging outside The House Cafe. Fat Dog is such an institution that a few months back panic ensued on Facebook when Fat Dog had not been glimpsed for a few days. How anyone could possibly lose Fat Dog is actually beyond me but then I did once see her two streets down from her usual post so she is much more ambulant than appearances suggest.
Happily Fat Dog was at her usual post today.


Ok so finally I boarded a ferry to Asia and then something happened which is to be expected on a week long Fest. I changed my mind. I mean I still wanted to go to Asia but instead of breakfasting in Uskudar proper down by the water I saw a number 15 bus passing by and I felt compelled to board it and follow the coastline up for a different breakfast view.

Well ok, the breakfast view was similar. Cay, Bread and Beyaz Peynirli Menemen... except it was cheaper than on my dirty, car-logged street.

And the setting was a little nicer too.

As was the view


I even had tomato plant to eat with.

And a bird friend...

This particular spot was in a village called Cengelköy. It had a lovely laid back feeling to it.  Trees with limbs as big as trunks; leathery green leaves; unbroken views of the Bosphorus.  I know it is going to sound a little silly but it felt like Asia. Tropical, welcoming, meandering.  Men fishing by the water. Young boys helping them out while their younger sisters ran round like mad cats under the trees.  

Apart from the huge flag  of Atatürk. That I felt that was distinctly Turkish rather than Asia in general. Still I would have been worried if he hadn't made an appearance.

 The most amazing thing about this stretch of the Bosphorus though was how idyllic it was. So close to the hub of istanbul and yet so few cars, no hordes of people and no choking dust.

In the afternoon I returned to Europe and decided to join a few pals for the Gay pride celebrations In Taksim . A barrage of  water cannons, gas and rubber bullets later, I would probably choose not to include it on any future Fest da Boss itinerary. Very disappointing especially since they had only decided to ban the march 13 minutes before it started which meant people who had come to Taksim Square in celebration ( not protest) suddenly found themselves being herded by police in three different directions.
At least she came prepared :-)
It was quite frightening to be caught in the surge of the crowd with nowhere to run because the police had blocked each way. We eventually found our way out though and spent an hour or so chatting and laughing with fellow attendees although occasionally our conversations were interrupted by gas and water cannons. For these moments we chose to hide in a  a Tekelist (an off-licence) which should always be one's first choice in such situations.  

Finally when it became clear that the march was not going to happen we bought some beer and wine and sat in Cihangir Park and watched a beautiful sunset with all the other march refugees. 

No comments: