Tuesday, early evening, the last full week of August,
in the month of Ramazan. Our window on the fourth floor faces east, overlooking the mouth of the Bosphorus. I've taken to working here each late afternoon until the sun sets. Sounds from outside float in over a strong, cooling breeze; after so many weeks of excessive humidity, I'm almost tempted to throw on a shawl. Above my head outside, hanging from the flat roof one level up, a drying carpet hits the side of the building, fringe dancing in the wind, clanging an occasional rhythmic chime as the corner hits the window glass. The imam from the mosque a short distance away is softly singing the Koran; the acoustics of 600 year old bricks magnify his lilting voice. Waiters in the hotel garden below are filling glasses with tinkling ice cubes. Ferry boats and oil tankers are chugging through the strait 200 meters away; a buzz saw and hammers from a neighbor repairing his roof add their syncopated beats.
Over it all, the whirling seagulls cry in perpetual motion. The imam at the Blue Mosque to our south bursts into the call to prayer; other mosques in this ancient holy district join in. The men's voices rise and fall in the same phrases, but all with differing inflections, timing and tonal skill. They harmonize in a communal chorus, for the third time of five a day. As the last voice disappears on the wind, a rooftop restaurant in the street below tunes up some cool jazz, in preparation for this evening's crowd. My husband comes in and turns on an old film with a soundtrack of funky Turkish R&B, about gangsters, cabaret singers, frequent fistfights and gunfire, and predictably, a man in drag. The slowly setting fun bounces off the yellow wall opposite, the red tile roof sags from age and a profusion of squawking birds, searching for bread crumbs tossed there by the carpet repair man, who feeds them even though he himself will not eat for another few hours.
The film ends. Abit goes back to work in the shop downstairs. Another tanker rumbles along the Bosphorus, and I continue to write.