Crossing Continents

 Up until I set foot in my apartment, I was convinced that I would be living on the Asian side of Istanbul. I remember first telling friends I had gotten a job in Istanbul during one Ladies’ Night in San Francisco, and pulling out a gigantic world map- one I happened to have from school, with a rainbow of boldly colored countries. Everyone hunched over the bright orange blob that was Turkey, to find Istanbul- the only city in the world split by two continents. Crossing continents. Back then I thought I would be doing it every day. “Can you imagine?” I said with a tinge of excitement, “I’ll be going from Asia to Europe and back every single day!” It sounded so romantic- a lot more romantic that the reality of sitting through hours of traffic on Istanbul’s congested highways (turns out bridge traffic is another thing that San Francisco and Istanbul have in common), which the teachers who live there have to do.
Through some mysterious placement magic, I actually ended up in Ulus housing, on the European side. Since coming to Istanbul, my only trip to the Asian side had been to go to the Ikea during our school’s orientation. This past weekend, however, I got to cross over and see what the Asian side was all about. 
Sunday afternoon, Jeremy and I bumped into a few friends from school at the ferry station and crossed over to Kadıköy. We walked along the water’s edge to Moda and took in the views and charm: a white car decorated with pink cotton candy for sale, like a birthday cake holding candles, balloon BB gun shooting galleries- their targets like overripe grapes ready to burst, fortune telling rabbits, the European skyline in the distance. For the first time in weeks, I was able to walk down the street without being jostled and without having to visualize a route to navigate around and through the crowds of people. It was clean. It was calm… I could breathe. 

Cotton candy man!

Fortune-telling bunny- you pay and bunny selects your fortune from the bits of paper in front of him. He is wise indeed.

Shooting gallery a la home-made.

Dance, dance, dance.
We walked for a bit and ended up back in Kadıköy to have a beer, in a street, where vines acted as awnings, that was a mellower version of street are offshoots of Taksim’s Istiklal Caddesi. Soon after, we left to take the ferry home. While we waited, we spotted two rings of people dancing- like a spontaneous art performance. Riding back the sun was setting, ships started to look like gliding shadows on the Bosphorus, and outlines of domes in the skyline reminded me of Venice.  Asian side, I think I’ll come again. 


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