Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Istanbul in June

Thinking about it now while nesting at home in California, walking with my mom and sister in the Fatih destrict of Istanbul on Saturday feels like a dream.  VisitingIstanbul  this June detached me completely from daily life and provided me a real break.
I enjoyed walking in the Topkapi area and grand bazaar on Thursday with all 12 of us.  We walked the old streets and visited Sultan Ahmet mosque.  We spent some time in the Grabd Bazaar before dividing into two groups, one to go back to the hotel and one to continue on walking around.  We visited some shopping areas afterward as the bazaar itself was inappropriateky expensive.  We found a couple good bargains and got stuck in a pouring rain in the middle of a local Thursdsy Bazaar with no roof and no real shops to escape the rain for a few minutes. We had to wait a long time for taxi and hunt two down for the 8 of us who stayed for shopping and got to the hotel soaking wet.

On Friday we got on a tour for some famous shopping areas including a leather shop. The leather was really soft  and the designs were stylish for a relatively inexpensive price. We separated from the tour and shopped around for ourselves. It was my sister and mom, my mother in law and sister in law, my brother, and me.  We decided to take the public transition route to go back to the hotel.  We took the tranva first and rode off at where it was supposed to be our transfer to metro to get to Taksim square where our hotel was but the transfer included a 10 minutes walk and another toll which due to lack of English speaking of the staff cost us almost twice as much.  In general and to our utmost surprise we didn't find the Turkish people much helpful or considerate this time.  The taxi drivers seemed mad, some sellers seemed offensive and hard to deal with discouraging us from doing business with. I have a theory that it might have been the June weather that got them inpatient?!
On Saturday we went to Sulaymanieh Mosque which was huge and simple but beautiful.  In general the mosques had less color compared to the Mosques in Isfahan and many other places in Iran.  Instead, the buildings were designed with so much details, generally ornamented through architecture rather than colors and mosaic.  In front of the mosque I took sight of a coffee pot which I had promised myself to buy the next time I went to Turkey.  I decided on a 4 cup pot and chose a wooden handle. I was looking at the tea collections when the shop keeper approached me, grabbed the coffee pot away from my hand and walked to the back of his shop. I was baffled and watch him to understand his next move but he just stayed there proving to me that he refused to sell.  I was shocked and even to this date I'm surprised and puzzled as to why. Is it their style of selling? Is it the hot weather that got them inpatient and mad? Is it the fact that they could tell we were Iranian? And if so why? They know Iranians have brought a huge business to their country. I decided to find an information center and get some guidance to understand if there was anything that would offend the Turkish people but it was lame hunt.
We walked in the old winding streets entangled within the modern traffics it was not built to tolerate. We got to Shazdeh Mosque in time for noon prayers.  The mosques were orderly and you could see a variety of Moslems there with variety of Islamic covers for women. It was endearing to walk.  A lady gave us sugar cubes, I took one but she opened my palm and poorer a few in my fist. She was a darling and I had no use for the . I decided to bring them to San Jose for our Sufi friends' gatherings.

We divided into two groups again and the sippers headed to the Fatih area.  It was crowded Saturday afternoon and fun to walk all the people shopping around.  There were many tourists from other Moslem countries shopping.  There were many western looking tourists too of course and I wonder if the Turks were as rude to them as they were to us. Of course not all of the Turks were rude.  I particularly found the Kurd shoppers helpful and smiling. Being smiling and showing an open face is one of the main recommendations in Islam you know.

We watched the Iran-Argentuna soccer game in the hotel restaurant that night. It was a glorious loss at the 90+ minute with a definite pentalty missed to the announced by the referry. It was sad but we tried to remain positive.

On Sunday we took a tour to Buyuk Ada or the Big Island. It was beautiful and the seabus ride there was joyful with many great conversations with brothers and sister. I really liked the Turkish icecream which we got a taste of in the island.

Sunday was the last evening we were all together and two days before little angel's first birthday. So M and I invited the family to a birthday cake ina local cafe.  Some neighboring patrons sang m Happy Birthday in Turkish. We sang the Persian version and got her blow her candle which she managed with A's help. It was a joyful and memorable birthday celebration for sure.

On the last day just before goodbyes my mom gifted me a 4 cup coffee pot.

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