Monday, August 24, 2015

Welcome to Istanbul

I should be asleep now but jetlag and stirred-up emotions have me wandering around my apartment, filling the space with the music of Corrine Bailey Rae and reading short-attention-spanned bursts of A.S. Byatt. I’m still waiting for my mental clock to line up with Istanbul time and after being here one week, I really thought normality would have prevailed by now. I have all my art and pictures on the walls, books on the shelves, and I genuinely feel at home, so it’s not any sense of ill-fitting existence in Istanbul that keeps me awake at odd hours. I just can’t get over the reality that I live in such a gorgeous city. The friends I have made are warm and supportive and the administrators at my school are generous and hospitable, providing everything I need for a happy and successful teaching venture. Everything has exceeded my expectations. And  I am still marveling that I filled an IKEA bag full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices this afternoon at my neighborhood farmer’s market and paid only 15 lira (about $5).

The lights on my Fitbit filled up rapidly today as I raced around my new school on a scavenger hunt with my new colleagues, some of whom wore helmets with attached Go Pro cameras. The nature of the game was fun and highly-competitive. Translating the clues into English would have slowed our team down and I was the only non-Turk in the group, so I just ran everywhere they ran, up and down the stairs, scouring classrooms for clues and then sprinting back to the library like it was the last stretch of a marathon. Out of four teams, we came in second place.

The Hagia Sophia. First a church, then a mosque, now a museum. 
The highlight of this week has to be the dinner cruise on the Bosporus. My friend Glenda danced around the deck with her shawl billowing behind her, saying, “How often do you get to dance on the Bosporus?” Glenda is a free spirit and has a veritable harness on life. Perhaps with more fun excursions and some gentle prodding, I can learn to let go more often, seizing opportunities to dance in extraordinary locations. During another game, when my ankles were strapped to my colleagues’ for an epic 12-legged race, we wrapped our arms around each other’s shoulders, reminding me of traditional wedding dances in which the guests form a circle and loop around, kicking their legs up in the air. Chipping away at my deep-seated American individualism by joining more team-centered activities will help me lighten up over time and embrace my inner Turkishness.

Just hearing the call to prayer as I wind my way through the maze-like city on foot, marveling at the incomparable skyline as I cross between continents, and stopping somewhere near my apartment for a warm soup and cold ayran, excites new thrills within me. This rejuvenation accounts for my current nocturnal lifestyle and dependence on chocolate for stimulus during the day. Hopefully by next week’s post, my brain will be a little more settled and I will be operating on a normal sleep schedule.  

No comments:

Post a Comment