Taksim, on the edge, on edge…

June 16, 2013

Beyoglu is very quiet this morning. There’s an impending storm in the skies and I believe an impending storm on the street.


Last night turned crazy with the police. I had been watching on live TV the events unfurling at the square. We saw the water guns (read water spiced with burning acid…) blasting the people, the tear gas shot in the protesters and the cavalcade that ensued. That was around 8 PM. A bit later on I was walking on Istiklal and the street was overflowing with people.


A boy was running with a dolly, his father yelling at him, they had boxes of stuff. Could not quite make what it was. I kept walking, approaching Taksim. About 15 minutes later I saw the same father and son this time the boxes were opened : Gas masks and goggles. Big night for sales.


The closer I got to the square the denser the crowds. People up in the apartments overlooking the street were banging pots and pans, people on the street chanting. But there is a certain unmistakable edgy vibe in the air, trouble is not far.  Later as I was watching this old man play the saz and sing on the street, it started… Like a wave, of sounds and bodies. The deep voices rising in a crescendo. Headlights in the distance. Police. The crowd dispersed with amazing fluidity as I watched. Then it came again, the blasts from the tear gas being shot.


I saw one land near a young masked man, he grabbed it and thew it back. I have taken to carrying a scarf with me, this way I can cover my mouth if there is ever gas. I wrapped it around my mouth. With the gas there is a slight moment after being shot that if you are not directly in it you might think “oh that’s not too bad…”  When it settles, invisible at this point, so you think you are safe, it will start burning eyes, nose, mouth with a vengeance. Unavoidable.


I started to make my way back to the flat. My eyes were burning, I put my hands to them when a young man said to me: “Don’t touch! Don’t touch!” I followed his advice.


My neighborhood is a working man’s neighborhood. As I got there, many were pouring out towards Istiklal. I made it to the apartment.  Soon after, the police was down the street shooting tear gas, must have been over ten shots… we closed the windows as the vile stuff rose in the air.

“This is really bad… really bad..” said Firat with a look on his face that speaks so many emotions… anger, despair…


Another salve of tear gas was shot.  Maron had prepared dinner, amazing, all the men cook here! He offered me to join him.


The night rolled on. I can’t really go to sleep. I have the RT (Russian TV) internet channel on. They show Taksim live. I scour Facebook to see what is going on. It seems to me that this president is determined to be hated. To treat his citizens with such brutality… When I get to my room, I realize that I had forgotten to close the windows, the air is saturated with gas. My skin tingles, I get a slight headache. This too shall pass…


This morning walking down Istiklal, it is eerily quiet. The calm before the storm. There are few tourists to be seen. I am heading the opposite direction from Taksim. I will go get my espresso and write.


Last night it was decreed that anyone found at Taksim square this morning would be considered a terrorist to the state. From what I gather, there might even be the army out here to “cleanse” any gathering. The people’s plan on the street : get 1 million souls at Taksim today.


I could not find myself  more in the heart of things. I wonder about this coincidence.


This week has been hard in some ways. I’ve had no lessons and that makes me feel aimless. I have a hard time deciding anything. I wonder if I should get a motorcycle and travel a bit…  I’m just worried that getting a bike will make too much of a dent in my finances…  Oh, by the way, I did not get the grant I had applied for…  so I have to be mindful of money…  But part of me really longs to see the road…  One good exciting thing is that there is a saz seminar in August in Houdetsi that I will sign up for. My friends in Carcassonne are eager to see me, I just need to be patient I guess.


Know that I am safe, if this all sounds crazy for our North American sense of peace and order, there is something of a matter of fact. There is no violence among the protesters, instead, an amazing sense of solidarity and community. The ones to avoid are the police and they are very visible and somewhat predictable.


All my love


One Response to “Taksim, on the edge, on edge…”

  1. Heather Bejar Says:

    The scarf! So glad it is in your bag at all times. Thank goodness…I have something to share with you 🙂 Hopefully we catch-up this evening (my time) on fb. Love you, stay safe.

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