Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Feeding the Pigeons: Istanbul

Istanbul is difficult to write about. It is steeped in the past, an exuberant mixture of tradition and progressiveness, religion and tolerance, friendliness and hospitality. The Turkish people are proud of their country. The bright red Turkish flag flys everywhere. The prayer call sounds five times a day, and while most people seem not to notice it, I can imagine that this shared experience creates a sense of unity unlike anything I know in the United States. Here, while genearally conservative, it seems that the way a woman dresses is between her and God. There are women in tank tops, those wearing all enveloping black chadors with only the eyes showing, and 'muslim chic' women with bright headscarves in beautiful designs and stylish fitted jackets and jeans. The people are friendly and hospitable. We arrive and a Turkish friend we have not actually met before takes us to a lovely dinner. We have problems buying train tickets, and a man who speaks English helps. After purchasing tickets, he shows us how to get to the other train station, tells us good places to visit, and recommends an inexpensive Turkish restaurant for lunch. All this is followed by his phone number in case we have any problems in Turkey. The taxi driver who takes us to the US embassy tells us how to take a bus back to our accomodations. Men give up their seats to women on the tram. The photos I chose to post show a small snapshot of daily life. A woman feeds the Pigeons. A man catches one and gives it to an enchanted girl who holds it for a while. Soon after taking the last photo the bird flew away.

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