Istanbul bits and pieces

June 8, 2014

Ah this stupid word processor could not open any slower… I am restive, restless… I finished reading three books this week.. my fingers are itching to write, my mind boils over, the moon is teasing me, the wind blows over Beyoğlu. My head is full of pieces of words, feelings, colors, that push me around, tickle, pinch me as I stumble in the center of the circle of them, it’s a mad game. Na, na na na naaaa naaaa…


Angel, my love, where are you? How are you? Our moon is showing its belly and wisps of clouds cover that belly like a veil. Remember looking at the moon together, arm in arm deep in the night in Istanbul? I feel your absence on these streets… Istanbul cajoles me, flirts with me while you own Beirut on the other side of the Mediterranean, you and your velvetness. You and your impossible laughter. You know, Istanbul is emptying itself of all that made our world? Karakedi and all its beautiful people are gone, yes I know, not forever but right now, the streets are to be rediscovered, because what was, isn’t anymore…


Beds, bed sheets, all colors, I can’t figure out which ones are the double bed ones, so I stretch one purple one over the worn mattress and it doesn’t reach. I sweat as I put over-inflated pillows in tight worn cotton pillow cases of all colors and shapes. Tic toc says one. I love London says another. A blanket cover red and white with moose on it. Almost Canadian.


Stay or leave. In a few days I will finally know. I promise myself much projects, endeavors like making much needed money but I know damn well that it’s going to be whatever comes in front of me. The lady from Arya Hotel said something about working for a week, 100 lira a day I think, dusting, no beds to make… That is, if I understood correctly yeah… I could do that for a week.


Dirty bathrooms, beer bottles and cigarette butts in the double rooms. Sex and alcoohol I don’t see why you’d mix the two. To me all senses on is the way, no dulling with intoxicants… Fabio, swears a storm trying to make himself interesting while prancing around. But he complains too much, not cool dude… OOoooo! Your from Quebec!!! I love Quebecois women! He told me. But he’s full of it. Playa… Oh Fabio, Fabio… the game is so transparent, there is no fun in that. Everything exposed for all to see. Blah…


Hey! Bartin, where are you? Yeah, I know where you are. It’s just that I miss my people… I miss your growling and rolling eyes and finger twitching when things would irritate you. I miss your laugher. Too many friends have up and gone in the last while… Maybe I can go visit you soon in that paradise by the Agean sea.


Tonight I walked through the pazar as they were tearing it down. I followed two skirted, scarved, well covered women, I wanted to feel what it would feel like, but about 75 seconds into it I had to pass and go on, it’s just too slow for me. They must think I am always in such a hurry… long booted steps. The ground is covered in places by countless cuttings of vegetables, Some vendors still have their wares out for the late shoppers, darkness is coming, almost there. The dim light bulbs over the stalls make a sad light. Bir lira!! Bir lira!! vegetables, fruits, bedding, kitchen things, skirts and socks and candles and anything you might need. I have not seen a shopping mall for a year now. They have everything. The tarps are coming down. Ropes dangling among the last customers. A table is walking in front of me… a table with feet, and hands, gloved in yellow thick work gloves. I cannot see the man, just that table bigger than the man advancing slowly in front of me in the crowd. A brown, rough wood table with numbers spray painted on it. On the right, nuts, dried fruits. They are packing it all out. Ağabey!!! Said the smiling kids to a man tearing down his booth. These kids who know more about work and doing business than most Canadian 20 somethings.


From home I can hear the market. From home I can hear everything. Since the warmth has arrived the lives of the people of Tarlabaşı takes place outside. All windows open, women on the doorsteps, kids on the street, work places open their doors and add their own sounds to this exhorbitance of aural output. I have never lived in such densely populated human surroundings. Drums, clarinets, babies screaming, cats caterwauling, mothers, children, fathers yelling, Turkish rhythms and sad songs, scooters ripping the night, bangs of firecrackers, gun shots, car engines, garbage bin being kicked around. car horns, all rising thick like a Mississippi fog. The very air is sound. There is no empty spaces, no brackets of silence in which to retreat into, but somehow all this become wide and huge, it becomes the whole sky, the whole universe, it becomes infinity, so in a way we’re floating free in this as if in a delusional heaven of clouds and angels. There is a sort of safety with this sound. I wonder how my bağlama melds and weaves through this sound tapestry when i play. The Ezan, rising from 1,2, 4 ,10 mosques around, sometimes it works, sometimes its utterly mad dissonnance. I focus on one voice … Aaaaaaaaallllaaaaaaaahhhh… I don’t know if you can get what I mean… it’s all so foreign for us Westerners… we’d consider this all an unacceptable chaos to be tamed and conquered with rules and bylaws. But here it’s life… So much damn, amazing, incredible life. All there, vibrating, perpetrating, brutal and fragile.


Hands in the bleach, smelly toilet. Fuck. I hate that smell of mold and excrement and hot water mixed with hand soap… I need to wear a bio-hazard suit. But I’ll fucking clean it all, because it must be done. Excuse my swearing… I rarely swear anymore, but shit and its byproducts will make me swear.

One night an acclaimed singer, quasi rock star, the next morning hands in the shit. Some hostel customers put the mild polite smile tolerant people use for the “cleaning staff” or what’s that word… Oh yeah! : “Custodian” that word has no smell attached to it. It is such a clean word. You feel in that word that you are in good disinfected, bacterially neutralized hands. Yes, that smile, a bit of pity, condescending, the smile the owner of a platinum visa card pastes on while he enjoys his privileges and before he gets the bill and the fees. But for me today is so cool. Ayna could not come to work, her back kept her bedridden. We couldn’t find a replacement on a Sunday morning, so I helped. Got the broom, the mop, the cleaning basket and a whole load of clean bed sheets, blankets, and pillow cases and headed up, up, up and got ‘er done.

I felt so good because I could help. I don’t really care about much else. Helping gives the best feeling of all. Like when I played Thursday, at one point everyone was cheering, laughing, enjoying the atmosphere, and after a songs I asked :” Aren’t we all so lucky? I mean, look around…” they did and they agreed and cheered louder. Life is good.


I was just walking up the street, it is lined with fancy restaurants. It is a tourist area. This place is a Meyhane, one of the kind of places I’ve never been to because I just could never afford any of it. Yes, been here a year and I never did tourist things… There were three men wearing crisp white shirts, black trousers, standing outside on this gorgeous night trying to entice customers in. One of them invited me in to eat.

Param yok! I said. ( my money does not exist!) no money for such things. I expected to just be on my way after that. But the man suddenly offered free food.

On the house! It’s on the house! Free!! The larger of the three men said. I laughed and said:


and that somehow took him completely aback.

“uh… On the house! Free!”

“Nothing comes for free!” I said laughing. He tried some more, but really my stomach was full and I didn’t need anything I told him so and thanked him, maybe one day I would but now I was in no need of such food. Actually today Hooman had so graciously paid for an unexpected lunch and cafe earlier. my stomach was happy, the universe had taken care of me.. actually come to think of it, I was also given an espresso early this morning..hmmm… anyways… then he asked:

“Something to drink then? Wine, beer…” I made a face,

“Well thank you but I don’t like wine.” he was puzzled. We settled for tea, tea is OK, tea is fair and I’m not abusing anything or anyone. They all started to talk to me,

Where are you from? How long in Istanbul, I told them then I explained that I am a musician, he asked me to sing I asked:

“In Turkish?” Uzun ince bir yoldayim…

OK, in French! Quand il me prend dans ses bras…

OK in English! Let be, the love that stills the heart… Ooooohhh he swooned. Turks fall in mad love so quickly.

They tell me they will go to the first Island in a week, gave me a card. I should go visit them.

“Arkadaş var mı?” (do you have a boyfriend?) it was the second one of them to ask me that question in a few minutes.

“Var! he’s crazy and beautiful! I said, Gitmem lazım” I added, (I must go) They all said goodbyes, all smiles. They are so beautiful. Hassan gave me what we call in French a “baise main” a light kiss on the hand. I walked away as they kept calling: “Danielle! Good bye!” waving at me until I turned the next corner.

Beautiful moment. Beautiful moments… I love this place.


5 Responses to “Istanbul bits and pieces”

  1. kimberly Says:

    Danielle! Your writing is spectacular. I love your rhythm, your descriptions. Xoxo

  2. Halil Says:

    Hi Danielle. I like your music and have also watched your Acoustic Duo performance at Karakedi. I’ve been reading about your interesting story for a while on this blog and hope that you can stay in Turkey as long as you want. Good luck!

    • Ah thank you so much Halil,
      I have gotten the permit, and it really made my heart sing!

      thank you for the kind words, next time you see me come and say hi!

      • Halil Says:

        It’s wonderful. I can imagine how relaxed you are after all that rush.

        Ok, I’ll show myself the next time 🙂 But when you are to perform in Kuledibi, you don’t know it long before and it is decided spontaneously as far as I see. Do you have a schedule posted on some page?

      • yes, it’s pretty spontaneous, like last night we played, they called me mid-afternoon.. one day it will work out perfectly

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