Istanbul, Beyond the Headlines
It seems funny to put together a post about Istanbul, my current home, when I’m travelling in Morocco, but I guess it’s no more funny than the posts I’ve put together about anywhere else, from anywhere else. That’s the beauty of a travel blog I suppose, it doesn’t matter where you’re writing from, but rather what you’re writing about. In truth, Istanbul is a city that slips into my thoughts wherever I am, and it will likely continue to do so for the rest of my life, regardless of my location.
I’ve written plenty about Istanbul and Turkey prior, and I’ve even written some passionate diatribes after some tough events, which perfectly reflect the emotional turbulence I was experiencing. What I wrote after witnessing the second bombing is a good example of that, and will shed some light on what I’m referring to. Life here isn’t always easy, that is for certain.
However, I guess that this post in particular is a response to the fact that, despite the headlines and so forth, my nearly three years in Istanbul has been tremendously positive. I’ve fallen in love with a city which satisfies my never-ending curiosity, and that’s a major feat. I’ve learned a fair bit of Turkish, I’ve delved into the work of the country’s authors and poets, and I’ve inhaled the legends and tales of the past. I have a view of this city and this country that surpasses the narrow narrative that has come to represent Istanbul. That being said, I do want to take a moment to pay respect to individuals whose lives in this city may not be as positive, and in no way do I intend to pave over those important narratives (the daily struggles of Syrian refuges in Istanbul come to mind).
What I also need to communicate before moving forward is not that the headlines aren’t valid, because they might be, depending on the headline, but rather that the story is deeper than that. And to be transparent, with all that I know and understand now, I can’t even say that I’m terribly optimistic about everything, but I can say that though my time here has been peppered with turmoil, the underlying narrative thread has been that of intrigue, joy, compassion, and love.
I’m somebody who spends a lot of time reflecting - and probably far too much time doing so. For better or for worse, I’m always deep in a train of thought. Ironically, I think my teachers thought I wasn’t paying attention growing up, but I was paying attention, just not necessarily to them (and now I’m a teacher, figure that one out!). And if I’m not lost in a train of thought, then it’s likely I’m thinking about what powers that train, reflecting on reflection itself. I will say this, I wouldn’t trade my mind for anything, but I also wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else without a thousand-page manual.
Before I digress into some manuscript on quantum states and psychology, let me bring it back to the topic at hand. Istanbul has provided me opportunity for infinite reflection, and when I think upon it, my heart warms as if I’m thinking about a family member. This is not a narrative that is conveyed very often. Through photos I’ve taken, likely while walking and reflecting, I want to show my side of Istanbul.
I’m not making a statement, or constructing a grand narrative, all I want to do is show you my Istanbul. I’m not blind to all that is going on here, but I’m also not willing to close my eyes and embrace darkness when I still see such vibrant light peaking through the cracks. I hope that, in some small way, the Istanbul I see and feel will come through these photos.
Have you visited Istanbul before? What did you think? Do you think the photos do it justice? Any and all commentary is welcome below and my writing or photos! I always love to hear from my readers!