After just two hours of sleep and eyes wide open you wander if the day has started already? It’s just a little bit after midnight. It’s pitch dark outside, most of your 17 million neighbors are still asleep. Do you follow their call for some quiet and rest? Should you tamper with almost uncontrollable flow of ruthless reciting of everything what happened yesterday, day before yesterday?
Just 4 days ago you were kneeling on the Lake Shore Drive bike trail, looking closely at the bike’s crank arm and trying to figure out how to mount the pedal back. Kindness of the universe was already manifesting itself in newly acquired friend, who was passing by on his BMX trick bike. He saw your pedal coming off and just stopped to help. Man in his late forties, smiles, pulls up his pant leg, and you can see that he has some spare wrenches tucked in his sock. Adjustable wrench is what you need, friendly hand extends it over to you and smiling face looks curiously and quietly asks – “problema?” Then goes back to investigating the bike – “how much, the bike?” It is over 30 degrees Celsius, sun is scorching but still powerless to dry out your sweat. It is slowly finding its way down. All the way to the asphalt. Ground’s pitch black surface becomes even darker right where the last drop landed. Drip, drip.
– “It’s a gift”, you tell him, “I do not know”. In a mean while, the stream of sweat is making its way down the neck, all the way through the elbow, rushing through the fingers, the slippery wrench and lands into the slowly expanding micro sweat lake right beneath you. You try the last time but simply cannot mount the pedal back – looks like it’s crossthreaded. “Problema” – gentle friend whispers again. “Small problem” – you smile back at him while returning the wrench.
Fast forward couple of days and with the mind reflecting all the generocity of other kind people we are landing in Istanbul with the bike safely packed, pedals fixed and ready for yet another test.
So, what is next? Next is another intake of never ending gifts that our new 17 million neighbors prepared for us.
Dear neighbors have many cats that you can pet. They have a special story about the green parrots that happily live amongst them. Also you can spot “the turtle man” that used to entertain Sultans back in the day. Istanbul has churches and one of them was turned into a mosque, then turned into the museum. Neighbours call it Aya Sophya.
You can take a boat and in some 30 minutes land in a different continent! Let’s go to Asia! Or maybe – “welcome to Europe!”, somebody just announced. It can get very steep and very hot fast. While negotiating never ending street maze up yet another hill, you feel how sweat again is rushing down your neck all the way until it disappears somewhere on your back.
School kids are rushing towards arriving bus but still find the time to hiss and harass the street dogs that only reluctantly have to defend their right to be left alone. One dog looks disturbed and not sure whom to bark at as kids have already hid behind the closed bus door. “Will it now turn its attention toward me? You wander to yourself.
Smells. Sounds. Tastes. Neighbours have it all. They have stories, they have their laughs and smiles. They have all the shapes and colors. Tall neighbours, screaming at each other neighbours. Hugging and holding each others arm neighbours. Creative and tired neighbours. Wait, are there only 17 million of them? Must be many more. How many more you will meet in the coming days and months.
It’s 5.40 AM now, and I can hear another Adham call starting. There are so many mosques in this city and even more minarets. Each of them calls you for a prayer. I wander how many of my new friends follow the call? I definitely can hear that some street dogs are hauling their response to the Adham.
I slowly fall back to sleep.
And here is a link to more pictures