Stunning Istanbul, Turkey Through My Feelings

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As I walk out my way out of the Sultan Ahmet metro station, its twelve in the afternoon the streets starts buzzing with people and the crowd fill in without the place losing its beauty and the temperament it holds. As I walk towards Taksim Square which is the starting point towards Istiklal Street all my senses are awakened, lurking feeling as if everything has slowed down and being able to take every bit of the place.

Istiklal streets is one of the busiest areas filled with millions people especially on weekends and you must be thinking how to fall in love when there is  one motto in your head  to reach your priority destination such as Made in Turkey Tours. Trams running through very short distance, to avoid the crowd and reach on time. These are painted red with a glossy finish looks very Christmassy during winters and system of ringing bell while it approaches its stop, the sound of the bell reminded me of the ice cream truck my brother and I use to wait for during the weekends. I had forgotten about this memory until I heard it in Istiklal Street. It’s very hard to imagine how is it possible to feel so much when your head is wrapped around making through the crowd. Well, Elif Shafak has rightly said ‘Istanbul is a city of easy forgetting’.

Well, let me paint a picture for you. As I move from a huge quadrangle towards one of the endless streets to explore, soon witnessed life and its beauty as I look around the peaceful amalgamation of Asia and Europe, seeing old souk shops, second hand book store which catches my eye and as i make my way through crowd and enter the book shop, it treasures the oldest Turkish Novel Çalıkuşu (Lovebird) which I have been wanting to buy from past three years. Just sitting there at one of the blue tiles, it’s written in Turkish; well I have a motto to learn it. As I move away from the bookstore my eyes are treated with a flush of colours across the street and what I witness next is just breathtaking.

A beautiful voice singing with an acoustic guitar, my feet starts moving on the rhythm of his voice, though could not understand but the feeling of it was meditative. The street through 1.4 km had many stories to tell from the Kurdish street singer finding his life in Istanbul after running from Syria to protect his life to those street singers trying to find fame in the streets of Istanbul. Istiklal street is home of Turkish street music.

What catches my attention is the smell that made my mouth water. Turkish people treat their food as an art. The art of serving Turkish ice cream (Dondurma) which defies gravity and the elasticity of the ice-cream lends itself to a rather fun buying experience too. What most Turkish ice-cream vendors do they have their ‘acts’ rehearsed being at the receiving end of this service can be quite an experience.  It’s fascinating to watch how the tricks are played by vendors with an ice cream, by making the customer test his/her reflexes to get hold of the ice cream while the customer tries to figure out the way to crack the code to get hold of the acrobatic ice cream . As my stomach growls and the mouth drooling way it is presented, you would never want to think about your diet. That makes clear I did treat myself with a lip smacking Shawarma and Dondurma.

The ottoman architecture say a lot about Turkish history , heading forward with branded international showrooms at both sides, after taking care of my hunger I find myself standing at the Çiçek Pasajı (Flower Passage), with arched ceiling and looking upwards, glass cupola and a roof above with the atrium covered with different colours of flowers, noticing the arched windows with very gothic style structure indicating the melting point of Asia and Europe architecture. My head makes circular motion as I scan the shape of the glass cupola with my mouth open at the architectural beauty, seems like a child who sees an airplane for the first time.

From the rectangular street to circular area at the Flower Passage a chain of outdoor restaurants start to buzz with customers, you can hear the crackling of the tea glasses, chatter, and clinking sound of a wine glass, live music and lot of laughter. This place gives me feeling of ‘’it’s okay wherever you are, you are fine’’.

Moving on, reaching the Majestic Cinema which is one of the oldest theatres here with showcasing modern movies both English and Turkish , thought to be a bit adventurous and saw a Turkish movie, could not understand it but would relish the feeling of sitting in a foreign land in one of its old cinema and watching a foreign language movies is something to be put in your bucket list. My only wish is to visit Istanbul after my astral travel and feel what I have felt by watching travel shows, reading novels, and watching Turkish television series that got me smitten by its beauty. I hope to travel only to experience much more and learn lot more. The 1.4 Kilometre Istiklal Street gave me an introduction to Turkey, wanting only to discover more. Though never been to Istanbul but this poem captures the feeling.

‘‘The cool covered bazaar,

Mahmutpasha, the courtyards

Filled with warbling pigeons,

Hammer sounds from the docks,

Smells of sweat in my lovely Spring wind;

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed.

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed:

An old world drunk in its head,

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed.

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed:

A bird is fluttering in your skirts,

Your brow is hot, I know,

Your lips are wet, I know, I know,

A white moon rises behind the pistachio trees—

I understand the pounding of your heart;

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed.’’

                                                                                -Orhan Veli Kanik

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  1. A wonderful virtual tour of the lovely city of Istanbul.. The vibe of the city is beautifully captured by the columnist here..

  2. Beautifully captured the charm of the Ol’ Istanbul… for a moment I thought you actually wandered through those streets!!! Very well written Prakrati.


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