Oh Istanbul

August 7, 2018

 

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It was a long, long ride. From Resita, Romania to Istanbul, two buses, the first one coming  in 4 hours late, motion sickness, yahoo driver and passengers, late night border crossing and an arrival in Sofia at 4 AM which meant that my hostel’s reception was closed and that I would not sleep or have the luxury of a shower. 5 hours later, sleepless I boarded the second bus, this time it was a big, pretty comfy ride with driver and assistant, drinks and snacks and some fairly regular toilet stops, as opposed to the 20 seater microbus.

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I made it in Istanbul on schedule, at 5 PM. Crossing into Turkey really felt like coming into a different world. Coming from the rural Romania and Bulgaria, Turkey seemed like a country in warp speed development. There is money here and projects and so much energy and dynamism. I was hit strongly by this perception. I wasn’t seeing it like this before, but after being all over the world from Europe, to the USA to Eastern Europe, I got a whole different sense of this place. Given a fair government this place would definitely rule the world. Why? Because of the willingness of its people to work so incredibly hard and the incredibly young demographic chomping at the bit to have a chance for a decent life for them and their families.

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We finally made it to the otogar, this place is worthy of scenes in Clockwork Orange or such science fiction movies. It is a cross between a bazaar, a bus station, a shopping mall, a free for all flea market where you’ll find everything from cell phone credit providers, money exchange, restaurants, clothing stalls, tourist shops, travel agencies, kebap sellers and on and on and on. It’s old, dirty, cracked and worn out yet incredibly vibrant.

I put minutes on my SIM card, got credit on my Istanbul Kart (transit card) and was ready to tackle the city, despite my complete lack of sleep, I felt excited, elated, and strangely, home. I made it directly to Sishane, I went to the little bus stop to see my Queen, this cat I loved so much. Was she still going to be there? Healthy?

The escalator took me outside of the metro station, I looked up and the blueness of the sky made me so happy. I love the skies here, I smiled really widely and took a deep deep breath… I am back.  Then outside, surprise, the road is torn apart, they are repaving all the way up to City Hall. It is bustling, people all around, everywhere, taxis honking their way up the broken road, the Peace sculpture standing there in the sun as always. On the way to the bus stop, I saw that a building I have described before, with its gold material shining strangely in the light, dilapidated windows, standing oddly as it did not fit the neighborhood has been completely renovated. I had wished to do a series of photos of this building before because of the way it shone strangely in certain lights and stood out so much next to the other buildings,  too late now.

I arrived at the bus station, I called: “ pssss, pssss, pssss…”

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5 minutes later she arrived! We chatted for a bit, I was so happy, she was a bit disappointed that I didn’t have food for her, but it was so hot she decided to lie down in the grass in front of me. I relaxed, took the whole scene in, watching the buses go endlessly, one of them the 55T which used to take me to Gaziosmanpasa to teach English… the birds flying, the Golden Horn shining in the sun behind me. Wow.

It’s the fourth day now. I slept in a hostel for 3 nights then found a place to stay with a friend. Scott. Scott is one of the best people I know here. So kind, open, up and positive. He is an American who has redesigned his life here in Istanbul. We’ve been here about the same amount of time. He teaches English. I will stay here for 3 weeks. One of those weeks he will go take a vacation and I’ll take care of the cats he is babysitting at the moment. I feel good that I can help with that. It was not my original plan but when he said he had not gone out of Istanbul for so long because of the cats, I knew this feeling too well, one has to exit this city once in a while to stay sane.

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I feel tired, good but tired. I wonder if I didn’t leave Romania too soon. I miss the puppies, the garden, Ami and Marti… There was something so out of time there… I felt it was time to go, but I could really have stayed another week.

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This Workaway thing is like that. You come, you share the life, then somehow it’s time to go, there is always a bit of a feeling that these people are doing so much for you… Then you leave, and you miss them.

At this point I am pondering what I should do with the 3 months I can spend here.  The Workaway is there and available and they are looking really exciting, at the same time I am dying to have a studio a space to work on my own things and then just do that for 3 months. I need to come to a decision; continue this nomadic thing or stop for a while, or stop for good…  I see advantages to all of those, my heart wishes for creativity, my finances spell the necessity to live as frugally as possible.

It is clear that every time I move around, all the questions of my life take a back seat, the work, the needs, the feelings, the dreams, the problems, my reality comes down to the immediate necessities: toilet, food, rest, shower… and each time I stop, it takes a while to return to a sense of continuity. The constant change is great to observe the world, to apprehend it in many different ways. This chance to live in all these different cultures is really awesome. I get to see what I truly need as a human, and many things become unimportant. The baggage gets lighter.

 

As an artist I feel the need to express all this, but it’s not always possible, I express it in a sort of psychic way instead of through an instrument or on paper, but being a physical entity I also need to express things physically. Hence my dream of a workspace. Simple. Calm. Clean. Maybe that is why I continue… continue until I find it.

What an amazing journey. I am blessed. I am grateful.

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