Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sultanahmet late summer

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.


  1. Like a little visit - thanks Catherine ! Love the pic - sigh !

  2. I was trasported into another world. Thanks Catherine