How can one describe Istanbul? What justice can one do to a city so alive with people, history, religion, color and sounds. I don’t know what I expected, and it wasn’t what I expected. It is exotic and yet earthbound.
The most unique aspect of Istanbul is the intermitten calls to prayer. I can’t describe the surround sound of this call that is broadcast from all mosques in the area five times a day. (The early one is a bit disconcerting when you sleep 100 feet from the mosque.) Since each broadcast is just a few seconds off, it is very loud with split-second ensuing echoes. Evidently the kneeling prayers are done within the mosques or in private places as I didn’t see anyone stopping in the streets to pray. At the very least, as my son says, it is a reminder to stop for a few moments in a busy day to pray or contemplate. We did notice in a restaurant that the music was silent during each of the “calls”.
I loved the people in Istanbul. The blending of a myriad expressions of the the same faith opened my heart to Islam even more. The variations of women’s clothing (which seemingly spoke to the differences in interpretation of religious law) went from full burka to covered heads. Other than the shapeless black burkas, the variations in dress ran the gamut from utilitarian to city chic.
BTW, the only immodest attire was worn by obvious tourists. Really people????
A few Turkish people spoke English. We met a charming family on our boat ride up the Bosphorus. My feeble attempts to speak greetings and polite responses in their language met with smiles rather than smirks. That was kind.
Everywhere there were people. Whether sitting on the benches in front of the Blue Mosque, in the park between the Mosque and Agia Sophia, in the streets around the spice market or walking along the wharf – people, people, people.
The colors were magnificent. At one point I forgot myself when I was walking by a beautiful woman in a turquoise scarf and shawl.
She smiled broadly at me then and nodded. “Thank you,” her husband said.
That says it all, doesn’t it?