Monday, January 03, 2011

Istanbul in the rain

(As I write, the Imam is chanting the call to prayer outside our window). And while conditions are damp, our spirits are not. Top Kapi palace was crowded but the collection of religious artifacts were particularly well attended. My favorite: Abraham's saucepan. I'm sure he used it often. It was portable of course (see my latest essay on mobile hospitality in Joanne McWilliam's festschrift). We also noted the Prophet's footprint, parts of John the Baptist and clothes and prayer mat of Fatima.

And I must just observe that while a tour of the harem in the Top Kapi palace shows lovely blue tiles and striking bathroom features, it is depressing to imagine countless women who lived and died in the long dank marginal corridors and cold rooms. 

We had turkish coffee (yes with almond schnapps) later that afternoon in the Grand Bazaar only to ward off the cold of course. And that little dish on the left contains lokum, namely turkish delight. There are endless varieties. Friends say that rose flavored is the best. The Grand Bazaar is a place where you receive more attention than you have hitherto received in your life. "I see no carpet that you are carrying," cried a carpet merchant to my Mother. "This is not good!"

Everyone should visit Istanbul one day. Next best thing is this book. True, there may be a little too much of what Brazilians call saudadje, but it is worth reading for a flavour of the city.

1 comment:

Jane R said...

I love that book. A lot of saudade in it, yes, but I find myself dipping into it every so often. Keep enjoying your visit. I'm savouring it vicariously! And remembering my own visit of just three years ago.

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