The most profound moment since the previous blog post was a South African mother’s words to her approximately 7 year-old daughter as they got cleared at passport control at OR Tambo airport: “Jy is nou amptelik ’n expat.” (You are now officially an expat.)
Twit that I am, I immediately tweeted it and a friend responded by asking if the woman seemed proud of the fact that she was leaving. I don’t think she was. I guess the moment struck an emotional chord because it was hard to say goodbye to my mom, who now has no more offspring left in South Africa. I might be planning to go back to South Africa once I’m done with this adventure, but I’ve got two sisters who, just like the woman at the airport, walked through passport control at that same airport with their children in tow, leaving South Africa for good. As solid your decision to leave your home country might be, I know it’s not easy.
I arrived in Istanbul on a Monday evening. The trip was uneventful, apart from a taxi driver who cheated me out of 50 Turkish lira when I was too travel fatigued to figure out cheaper ways to reach my backpackers a few blocks down the road from Taksim square, where the airport bus dropped me off. In spite of being robbed by the taxi driver, I did score a much needed ice cold bottle of water out of him – even thiefs can take pity on their victims.
The first proper day in Istanbul was mostly filled by a walk from Taksim square to the Spice and Grand Bazaars, as well as a boat ride on the Bosphorus. The streets are labyrinth like, the buildings old-worldly, the hills very steep, the people beautiful and the street food delicious.
I also was privileged enough to see two fights throughout the day. The first was between a young couple in front of hordes of tourists during the boat ride – not so violent, more of a shouting match. The second one was more interesting – a bar fight between a Turkish barman and (what I assume was) a troublemaker while I tried to escape the heat with an Efes draught.
The Grand Bazaar is not a good idea for a Super Cool Global Hobo with limited space in his backpack, but was good to see. The automatic response when carpet sellers try to lure him to their kelims?
Holle ach ich tea ya dz’em (No, I do not want a carpet.)
I’ll hopefully have more to say with the next blog post.