Monday, November 8, 2010

Walking in Fatih & Fisherman Friends

Today I went to collect my residency permit from the Bus Station to Hell that is the central Istanbul police station. . . After some waiting, I got it and had some time on my hands to walk. I was hoping to walk to Fener or Balat but I got hopelessly lost and suspect I didn't really make it to those areas. I wandered through Fatih and eventually found myself deep in Çarşamba, perhaps one of Istanbul's most religiously conservative areas. While I blend in fairly well where I live in Beyoğlu, I didn't necessarily feel unwelcome in Çarşamba, but certain very much foreign with the shortest beard and the longest hair of anyone in the immediate vicinity.  The experience was a good wake-up call from the trap that so many forigners, including myself, fall into by understanding Beyoğlu as a reflection of Istanbul as a whole.
 Typical fish boat... (Photo by "Nickim")
As I wandered rather aimlessly, I was lucky to see the distant Galata tower in a small exposed bit of sky between buildings. I used this to get my bearings and made my way down to the Golden Horn, an inlet off the Bosporus. As I was walking I spotted a boat advertising "Historical Eminönü Fishery," which is not at all an atypical sight in Istanbul.
The fish boat I found...
This boat was a bit out of place though... first of all it wasn't in Eminönü as its sign said. Also, it lacked the florid decorations that are so closely associated with the classic Eminönü Balık Ekmek sandwich. There were three men eating on the boat and I asked them if I could take their photo. After quite a bit of snapping, I began to leave only to be interrupted by them asking me in Turkish "Where are you going?!" as they beckoned me to come aboard. They fed me fresh hamsi: delicious Turkish fried anchovies and we talked for about 3 hours. One of the men, Yunus, has seen more cities in the US as a sailor than I have, and we got along particularly well.
New Turkish fisherman friends. Arif, Yunus, & "The Captain"

I'm starting to learn after this and the antiques salesman that I met how my camera can be a very good tool in starting conversations that otherwise wouldn't happen. Additionally, such acts of kindness and hospitality have never happened to me in the US, and every time strangers here offer me food and engage me in conversation it is really inspiring to me as no one I've met in the US would act quite the same way.

Here are the day's photos:

Balıkcı. Golden Horn, İstanbul.

Captain Yunus. Golden Horn, İstanbul
Fatih, İstanbul

Fatih, İstanbul
Dönerci & Spectator. Taksim, İstanbul

Tophane, İstanbul

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