Friday, 20 April 2007

Culture shocks from Istanbul

It is quite a kick driving into Istanbul with your own van around 4 o clock pm! Five track roads without street markings, all kinds of vehicles crisscrossing wherever they can go. We got fuzzed around and wondered how big the city would be. Okay, driving into a city of about 16 million inhabitants without any preparation may not be recommendable, and we felt quite lost. Asking people for a map, no one understood, or just started to laugh. Trying to park, roads got stunningly steep and narrow and one moment even some locals thought that our van would turn over!

After some desperate hours we found our way, and started to enjoy the city more and more. In Istanbul every kind of shop has its own area, you have whole quarters just for car radios or ship robes, wand we found our home in the music instrument area. In some shops jams sessions were going on, shop owners were playing guitar outside. The main street in our area, Istiklal Caddesi, is broad and just stuffed with people, they say in the weekend there are 5 million visitors per day in the area! Walking this street you get pretty dizzy after a while. It has quite an impact on the ecology of your mind, all this chaos, all this people, and we noticed the enormous contrast with living on the countryside, where the mind gets calm and you forget to hurry. But a huge city does not necessarily mean loose structures. In all the chaos there is a lot of hidden orders and codes. It is just that they seam to differ per street so it is hard as an outsider to read them and adjust to them. A man showed us how a dog was waiting outside a butchers till they came and gave him a bag with meat. The dog always smelled first if the meat was good enough for him. As a special customer, all butchers respected the dog and gave him meat. The dog smelled the bag, took it in his mouth, and walked.

Istanbul carries huge contrasts next to each other, a big shopping street, a yuppie area, and a poorest area are just walking distance from each other. When we entered the poor area, we felt it was not normal that foreigners came here, everyone watched us, and although no one was unfriendly to us we did not feel too comfortable in the small slum-like streets. Around the Istikal Caddesi you have to get deaf for all the street sellers, beggars and restaurant people, but five minutes from there we had a hard time finding a place where they were willing to serve us a dish!

We met some friends´ friends and had a nice time with them. They are buzzy with a project documenting street culture in Istanbul with photo´s and sounds, categorizing them in themes like ´stencil art´, ´little notes´ or ´Don´t leave your trash here or your family is cursed-´signs. Now they want to do the same in Amsterdam and Berlin. It is nice to come to such an enormous city to get to know a few people working on their own crazy ideas, and we started to feel quite at home in the city. Hard decision: nature and culture, but we felt the fuzz of the city was a bit overwhelming and longed for nature again!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hej Hi Hey you three travellers! Thank you for your travel blog, it is so inviting and makes one eager to follow your track - on the map... but oh how my "Wanderlust" is aroused every time I have a glance at your photos and stories from the journey! Also very interesting to read everything else on the site. A favourite among the pictures: Gaya and Cecilia with the lambs - I quite agreee with Klaas(?): you can almost see how all this new experience makes Gaya grow very fast!
Love from Ulla-mormor