May Day in Istanbul
This May Day in Istanbul, we woke up to the sound of helicopters flying over our neighborhood. The preparations for the protests and marches that happened that day started the day before, when police blocked off whole streets leading to Taksim Square, the center of the action. Because of all the commotion, there was no real hurry to get out of the house, so we made it a lazy Sunday and I only ventured out for my jewelry class at 3:00 pm. Until last year, Taksim Square was not open for May Day rallies and had not been since 1977, when protesters were shot on the square. Thankfully, this year's rallies were completely peaceful, although the helicopters and police in riot gear gave the unsettling feeling that anything could happen and danger was imminent, the day passed without any big incident. In a city as overpopulated as Istanbul, any massive gathering seems a frightening affair, and it is great (and reassuring) to see that it can happen safely.
|Some of the 40,000 police officers out that day. (Tophane)|
|Helicopter hovering over Sultanhamet|
|Riot Police officers crossing the Galata Bridge|
In jewelry class, I learned how to make a "karpuz yüzük," or "watermelon ring." It gets its name from its plump dome and is essentially a domed ring with a stone set on top. Since the family, who takes the class with me, wasn't there, and the two other people in class were new students, who were working on sawing, it felt like I was getting a private lesson. Throughout class, I felt that I had a better grasp of the process and could anticipate the upcoming steps, which gave me a sense of independence in completing projects and being able to do so in the future outside of class. It is still awe-inspiring to see a ring take shape and a flat piece of metal take on organic curves. It is also amazing how something so dainty and delicate grows from the rough edges and screeching of sawing, filing, and drilling.
After shaping the ring with the doming block, it was time for to choose a stone. Whenever we do a project that requires a stone, my teacher gets out the stores of semi-precious stones from his satchel and the choosing process takes on a drawn out and ritualistic tone, as he unfolds pieces of paper one after the other, containing shining multicolored gems, to a series of "oooooh"s and "aaaaaaaah"s from the class. Some of the stones are enormous and we take turns passing them around and balancing them between our fingers and moving them in the light- imagining rings fit for queens and sultans. For my watermelon ring, I chose a green tourmaline stone. My teacher also had a number of stones that he cuts himself, including beautiful chalcedony, which comes from Turkey, and I hope to use one day in a piece.
|Two ferry boats at sunset, gossiping like old friends|
|Istanbul's Dolores Park!|