Friday, March 2, 2007
east meets west
Photos copyright 2000 Gazelle
Istanbul - for a long time there has been a lot of talk about how this city is a place where the western and eastern worlds meet. I've visited twice and found that there's much truth to the talk. On the surface, the city is comparable to San Francisco in that it is hilly, surrounded by water, and full of distinctive architecture. But of course it is not much like San Francisco otherwise. Istanbul is full of ancient mystery and Turkish and Islamic ambiance, and yet it is simultaneously a modern city with a European feel.
On my last visit in 2000, I chatted with a merchant in the Grand Bazaar. When he learned that I had visited Istanbul in 1990, he eagerly asked what, if any, changes had I noticed. I told him that I felt like it had become a more crowded, busy, and intense place. He nodded affirmatively but was obviously saddened by the thought (generally, you'd think a merchant would be pleased with this development). He told me the population had increased significantly during the past ten years and that the streets were more than ever full of hurrying people. I think that the three photographs above capture the bustle of the city at that time. I can only imagine that the pace of life in Istanbul is even more frantic now as the city hurries to catch up with the western pace of economic productivity.