I hear the call to prayer and I wonder what the caller is saying. What is he saying to encourage and entice believers to come, kneel and pray? The call seems pensive and, at times, halting. I am strangely comforted when I hear it.
This is a very, very, busy city. People walk fast and hurry from place to place. There are spirited debates as the men sit and drink tea, while playing board games. I always hear music in the street. At times, when I go into a shop or store, the employees are singing and laughing. Although very busy, this is a city filled with happy people. At night, when I open my window, I hear laughter and music. I cannot say that I’ve developed an affinity for Turkish music, but it is upbeat and joyful.
Children wander the streets of old Istanbul, sometimes in groups, and sometimes alone. No one seems to think that this is odd or in any way unusual. In the Bay Area, I rarely saw a child walking alone and if I did, I wondered where the (neglectful) parents were.
Food is everywhere. On the block where I live, on one side of the street, there are two small convenience stores (which sell freshly baked whole loaves of bread), a “fast food” restaurant (which does not mean “fast” but a limited menu), and two bakeries. This is common on each block. Throw in a fresh fruit and vegetable stand and you’ve got a common block in old Istanbul. The Turkish people love their prepared food, they love their many varieties of baklava, cookies and cake, and they love their fresh fruit and vegetables.
And I’m loving the whole experience.