Grand Bazar and more

June 6, 2013

Hello, hello,

Sorry for the silence, no worries to be had.  I actually ran into computer problems.  I allowed an Asus update and suddenly all the USB ports were dead…  It took four, five hours to get it all back to functionality which in turn took all the time I had to write.

The days are racing by.  Thursday now.  On Tuesday my friend Emre took me to the Grand Bazar…








On this boat they make fish sandwiches that are really, really tasty.  I also had a sour-salty drink made with pickles and cabbage.























The Grand Bazar was dizzying.  So much going on, such a big place.  These store owners sure know how to sell.  I am not really into buying much but I did get some coffee.  We returned towards the hostel and that is when I saw this boy playing djembe like there was no tomorrow on Istiklal street.

The next day, Tuesday, I had lesson number two and that was really great.  My teacher wants me to play the long neck bağlama, mine is a short neck one.  More range, more possibilities.  So when I go for my lesson I don’t bring my instrument but use one of his which is really, really nice…

I need to work on my left hand technique, but it’s actually coming together quicker than I expected.  At one point I made a comment about how Turkish songs are quite long compared to western song and he says: “Turkish people have been oppressed for a long time, the music is where they could be free.”

This sits along with the pictures I posted above.  The Turkey that is in the minds is often the one of the big mosques, the sultans and the Ottoman empire…  When I read about the history of the Ottoman empire, I kept wondering: “What of the people?”  I guess that would be like equating England with the Queen or  the USA with George Bush….  too narrow.  Much too narrow.  The music I am learning is the music of the people, not the classical Ottoman court music, but the music played on the baglama at home, at the parties, i life.  And maybe that is partly why I am not so interested in the Ottoman relics but much more into the people themselves.

To fell, live, absorb the vibe of this city.  Like the vegetable salesman who will give you a taste of cucumber and apricots, smile and be so human.   Like when I went into this small store that sells bread, cigarettes, alcohol, milk and makes grilled sandwiches.  I walked in there to get a sandwich.  The merchant’s father was there, he said something to me I did not understand, then turned around to his son told him something.  The son reached for a chocolate bar, gave it to his father who then gave it to me, just like that.

There is a different way of relating between people.  After my lesson, I took the bus back.  Off the bus I had to go to the metro station but I found myself disoriented, looking right and left I could not quite remember where the station was.  A man looking like he just finished his workday asked me if I needed help, I asked where the metro was.  He looked, thought, then said, come with me in the taxi, I’ll get him to stop at the Metro.  So I climbed in the back of the taxi, he in the front, we rolled down a block and a half, he gave me last directions for inside the metro station and I got off.  There is a totally different spirit, a different way of interacting between people, very caring.


I walk around with a permanent smile on my face.  The light is amazing.  The breeze flows in, making me feel impossibly buoyant and again I smile.  I love this place.


Last night I went out to eat pilav out on the street, there are an endless array of street carts selling different foods, you can eat a meal for 3 liras, and for 5 or 6 liras really go all out with a drink of ayran!  So I went out to eat, sat on the small bench provided.  When I walked back I happened to see friends from the hostel who were playing on the street.  I asked them if they wanted me to get my guitar and join them.  They said yes.  So I grabbed my guitar and a cord and joined them and just played along.  It was a fun time.  Here I am, on Istiklal street,  playing as the tourists snap pictures!  My 2 friends are Iranian, there was a guy from America playing djembe and another guy whom I think is Turkish.  It was beautiful and surreal.   In the waning day’s light to be there living such an experience.

Life is a wonder.

Later we re-joined at the hostel, I did not expect to but they shared part of the money they made with me.  I am now wondering if I should have taken my little amplifier along with me, I could probably earn my keep just playing on the street!

Tonight we will play at a club, they invited me to join them to play in a club, so that will be, if all turns out, my first “performance” here!

Well there you have it.  I really wished my computer had been up to par yesterday, I had to much to say!!  things fade quickly as more and more events pour in.  There is never a dull moment, I have not had any time to read my book, which I thought I would finish much sooner.  My head is full of music, my heart is full of joy, I am glad to see that I am in the moment in this amazing place drinking it like water on a hot summer day.






One Response to “Grand Bazar and more”

  1. Danielle Liard Says:

    Sounds wonderful! I absolutely cracked up at your picture of the goats, seeing what was sitting in the background. Only in a bazaar! 😉

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