January 12, Blast in Sultan Ahmet

January 12, 2016


To walk around Istanbul today you could not tell the horror that had happened. The sun was out in a glorious tenderness of warm, gentle gold, the breeze sweet and unthreatening, the splendors of the city set aglow by this light, stand tall in the distance. The difference is in the heart. It’s in the way that any rumbling sound in the distance make you uneasy. In the awareness that a terminal explosion could take place anytime, anywhere. It is the fact that you cannot, will not be unaware, blissfully unconcerned by any fear or doubt or dreadful imaginings of blood and flesh and “body parts” as a witness recounted.

I heard the blast. I was sleeping, I stood up in the bed, confused, still dreaming, then went back to sleep with a blurred thought that this was likely only some sort of structural event, electrical or construction related or a dream. After getting up, I suddenly remembered the blast. I asked my friend: “did you hear a blast? I heard something but I can’t remember if it was last night or the night before or a dream.” It was all a vague thing in my mind. Then I got an email from Italy: “ are you OK? I heard about the detonation.”

Detonation… ah, yes. I head it too. For real, first person singular. I checked the news. And there it was: “breaking news”


The event was followed immediately by a media blackout and a statement from the authorities that it was to be blamed on a “Syrian terrorist” 10 people died, 15 injured and no one knows who these people are, foreigners, Turks?

I am OK. No harm done to me or anyone I know. Sultan Ahmet is usually filled with tourists, not so much with Istanbulites.

The gulls fly in the sky, unaffected, the light is gorgeous and the beauty of the place; breathtaking. This indifference has always hit me deeply, how incongruous it seems when humans tear their neighbors, hearts and souls to shreds, the world just keeps on going its unstoppable course.

A few nights ago, I was at school teaching, we were in a classroom that faces the back of the building, when suddenly about 8 dry, loud, shots were heard in a very quick successive discharge. TAT! TAT! TAT! TAT! TAT! TAT! TAT! TAT! The window was open. We were on the 5th floor, it sounded so close, so ominous, terminal. The class fell silent. We all looked at each other. My nerves rang as if a brass bell had just been hit. A weird sort of surface queasy headache formed on my forehead and between my eyes.

“Holy shit. That wasn’t firecrackers…” I said.

“No it wasn’t.” said a student

“That was so close.”

“yeah, that is normal in this neighborhood.” the same student said. Life easily lost or changed forever. I couldn’t go on. I gave them an early recess. I walked in the teacher’s room, told the story, no one really reacted. My queasy headache still on.

I will play tonight and life will go on.

Sending my love.

Humans are crazy.


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