23 July 2006

at the crossroads.

I think Istanbul is my new Berlin. I'm completely in love with Turkey. We've spent two days zipping back and forth between Europe and Asia with our amazing Turkish Couchsurfing hosts, Hakan and Ersin. I'm never staying in a hostel again! Hakan makes us breakfast in bed and drives us all over the city so we don't have to navigate the public transportation system (which is rather complicated in a city of 50 million!). They're both software engineers - Hakan took eight years to get his degree and spent a year dodging his compulsory military service before serving on the Iraqi border, and Ersin's working on his PhD to continue avoiding the military. We're learning some basic Turkish (a very cruel language for foreigners!) - the word for "no" (pronounced "hayare") sounds suspiciously like "testicles" ("hiyah" - ironically, the same as the Arabic for "lıfe"), which amuses Hakan and Ersin to no end. Thomas Friedman called Turkey the "only functioning Muslim nation," and while the existence of others is up for debate, Istanbul is alive and well. Fully covered and veiled women walkıng arm in arm with friends in jeans and tank tops, the call to prayer harmonizing with European and American pop music emanating from countless cafes. Ersin is hosting another American girl named Diane who's studying "performance installation sculpture" in Philadephia and just hitchhiked her way from Serbia on Thursday night. We spent yesterday afternoon in the Istanbul Modern Art Museum, and I might be startıng to buy into performance art (well, some of it anyway). Today we're cruising through the Bosphorus, the strait between Europe and Asia, and stopping in the neighborhoods and fishing villages along the way. Tomorrow we're wandering the Grand Bazaar and visiting the famous Blue Mosque - I'm excited, I've never seen the inside of a mosque. We'll be ın Istanbul for at least two more days, maybe longer, then off to Greece or Germany depending on the circumstances. If I can find some wireless Internet, I'll post some pictures soon.

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