How to begin. Well, I just heard the sound of random fireworks going off, and looked out my open bedroom window towards the Golden horn, and saw red and green and purple coloured explosions - assumingly marking the end of gay pride week. In looking out my window I also caught a glimpse of my very shirtless and buff male neighbours, lifting huge barbell weights and doing situps in a dimly lit room together across the alley. It was quite the comical moment, (and very pride perfect), as I closed my curtain again to giggle and write...this.
Today's Gay pride parade was huge and hilarious and very fun; thousands of people taking over Istiklal street, rainbow flags and drag queens fluttering their lash extensions. Dancing in the streets with trannies and men and women, gay, straight bi, who cares... and even some lost little gypsy girls, long tangled reddish hair flailing as they twirled about on a makeshift stage outside a gay bar. I have never been to such a huge pride parage before, anywhere in the world. In Istanbul!! Take that Erdogan! :P
I also moved this weekend into a new room in an area of town known to most locals as a "ghetto". There has been much written about Tarlabasi on the internet (just google "is Tarlabasi dangerous?" to see a variety of conflicting opinions). My own personal experience thus far is that this is simply a poorer part of town where lots of minorities live (Kurdish, Roma, Africans), children are constantly playing in the street, the weekly produce market is AMAZINGLY cheap and fresh, and I dont know how posh people might react to having a gaggle of Kurdish women constantly sitting on my front stoop, shucking peas, but I personally love it. Everyone is friendly and kind (my corner grocery old-man is so sweet), and in some way, it being so busy and the fact everyone knows everyone is what makes it safe. I'm sure if you go deep into the area, further up and around the maze of streets where there are more abandoned buildings and squats, perhaps there are drug deals and some robberies, but where I am is seemingly completely fine, and I feel really happy to have chosen to get out of trendy ex-pat Cihangir, and into a real working class neighbourhood. There is constantly something happening out in the street, it is noisy, the laundry flaps endlessly in the breeze, and yes, its a bit dirty and chaotic - but if i wanted serenity and peace, Id be living in Switzerland, not Istanbul. My room-mates are also 2 awesome dudes from Kurdish Syria, and it makes so much of a difference, living with friendly, relaxed people (who also share their breakfast with me!!).
My job is going alright, although the concept of being an english teacher at a preschool where some of the kids are barely 2 years old and in diapers, seems ridiculous. Thankfully it is only 5 hours a day, Monday to Friday, and i have plenty of time to just enjoy myself.
The last evening call to prayer just sounded, and it immediately started raining, as if on cue. The poetry here really writes itself. I am just an observer, trying to capture it, in words, photos, the occasional drawing...and these all-too-few blog posts. I feel to exhausted from all the partying and running all over the city to write much more than this. Tomorrow is Canada day, and true to form I am going to coral a group of my friends into drinking beer with me at "Montreal" - random Canadian themed pub in Taksim. I need to rest up for more festivities.
|Legendary Turkish hospitality|