Istanbul, Turkey. I watched a movie on television tonight that took place in Istanbul. It was an action movie in which the protagonist chased the “bad guys” through a lot of narrow alleyways. In doing so, numerous fruit stands were destroyed. In one scene a speeding SUV blasted through one of the stands, reducing it to a pile of kindling, and showering bystanders with fruit fragments. In a number of scenes a “bad guy” was thrown over a bannister or out of a window onto unsuspecting civilians below. At least one game of chess and two or three tea sessions were totally ruined by thugs unexpectedly falling from the sky. The movie portrayed Istanbul as a cold and unforgiving place, with a seemingly endless series of narrow alleyways and fruit stands. While I was in the city I did notice quite a few narrow walkways. However, not one fruit stand ever exploded. Also, not once did anyone fall off a balcony or through a bannister into my immediate vicinity. What I’ll remember most of this city is it’s complex and rich culture that would materialize in colorful and intricate bursts like in the scene above.
One unlikely thing I will remember about Istanbul are the cats. They are everywhere, stately, majestic, and, most of all, calm. They perch everywhere, on signs, cars, stairways, roofs, and here, within a wall of posters. Walking by this scene I did a double take to be sure I was seeing correctly. Initially there was only one cat, but as I began to take pictures a second one appeared. As I snapped pictures a local man walked by on the street. He regarded me oddly at first, as I was seemingly photographing a wall. However, once he noticed the cats he began chuckling, finding the hidden amusement.