so many thoughts…

August 1, 2014

I took a shower, a second one, it’s so hot. I had tried to sleep, rest, something I have not done much in the last… months. I had a book, read a bit, fell asleep, did that 3,4 times but I always wake up feeling as if I am frying in an oven. I debate as to when to go for coffee, late enough to not be drenched in sweat, my head is swimming in this in between sleep state. I elect for another shower. Just cold water, but the water isn’t all that cold, no worries, no frostbite is going to happen here. I sat in the bathroom. I have taken to sitting on the toilet seat while taking a shower, I have not had the luxury of a bath since last October, baths are inexistant in Istanbul. Well, in Tarlabasi anyways. So I sit there running the water on my neck, legs, arm pits trying to cool off the machine. It works for a bit. I get dressed, head out, check to see if I have the key, yes I do, and head out.

On the way out my only friendly neighbor, a woman of about 40 something, the only one who has been greeting me with a smile asks me about my pants. I am wearing these ugly black, paint stained loose pants, she asks about the stains, I say “paint”, she points at my home saying: “here?” No, I explain, at the hostel I made murales… she reaches out with her hand holding heavily sea salted peanuts, I pick one, she gives me the rest. I make clumsy Turkish very small talk. We smile. I wish I could get to know her… it’s this thing about not being able to communicate. It sucks. It’s the biggest pain in the ass about being here… my inability to speak beyond 3 word phrases… I say goodbye, go… maybe I should show up one day with a package of cookies… bring the guitar… I don’t even know her name.

I walk up the street, everyone hangs out outside, I imagine because it’s so damn hot in most of these homes… they sit, women, children, together by the front doors of their homes, chewing on sunflower seeds, chatting together, watching the street life. The cats lay, their bodies completely abandoned on the cement of the broken sidewalks. In this heat they do the only logical thing in it: sleep it off until evening.

Under the Tarlabasi Boulevard bridge… she is still there. I saw her this morning. A Syrian woman with 3 kids, well two babies and a small child… One is maybe a year old, the other maybe 2 and the third one maybe 4. She lives there on the red pavement in the dark, depressing underneath of this overpass. This morning when I went to work at around 1\4 to 8 AM, she was passed out, asleep. How to describe this? Under the billboards announcing the performances of some of Turkey’s music stars and the self aggrandizing Erdogan election posters, a neighborhood aluminium garbage bin in front of her camp, on thin red blankets stretched on the ground, if you knew how dirty this place is… there are a few personal effects around, there to be stolen as she sleeps… Sprawled on the ground, she wears long colorful skirts, head scarf, like village clothing from a 100 years ago. The kids are laying down, scattered along, 1,2,3 from the tallest to the smallest, the smallest being the farthest away from the mother. His young face filthy, innocent curls framing that face. What the fuck? What the fuck????? How do we allow this? The Syrians are forgotten by most everyone. All the attention focused on the latest trendy, horrific conflict across the Mediterranean.

The hopelessness. I had a Syrian roommate. He had been on the battle fields, shooting videos… he was broken, hurt, angry, lost. He told me he felt he was as old as a grand father. At least he had some means… a little money, and no children to take care of. This woman… what does she have? Where’s the men? And I sit here in this trendy coffee, a couple walks in and plops down “The North Face” duffle bags that alone must cost 200 dollars a piece. Nothing makes sense. And what can I do?

The ugly faces of war. I walked on. This image burnt into my memory forever. Like the one of another Syrian man, sitting on the pavement near Galata tower with a little boy. His eyes deep and dark as a dried up well, he was staring at two fat tourists who were debating purchases at a trendy clothing store, then the women, clumsily kicked his box that contained a few donated liras… They looked to me like fat chickens with no empathy, only the vacant shopper’s stare it was… just wrong. So wrong. the man’s child was so thin, filthy… and we all walked on….

So me too, walked on, left the woman sleep her heavy slumber to go work and make breakfast for happy tourists.

Later that day, as I pondered relevance in the scheme of life, this crazy world, my friend said: “ After last night… (he had experimented with LSD) I realize that it all matters. I saw things that I could never have understood before.” I reckon he is right, it all matters. It all fits together, we just cannot see the design. So the order is to live as hard, as passionately, as determinedly, as beautifully, as strongly as you can as there is nothing else you can do, control or fully understand. Our meagre senses cannot see it all. So it’s about trusting in that seemingly mad life, mad world.

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One Response to “so many thoughts…”

  1. Cathy Says:

    Wow … You have left us with lots to think about. That mother & her children are etched into my thoughts.


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