Teatime in Turkey

“The streets of Istanbul were so alive- I don’t remember seeing a city that was so alive. Even New York City cannot compare. True, it is the city that never sleeps. But the times that I have been there, I have only seen a mass of flat-faced people walking and walking and walking in herds, obeying traffic lights, until they disappear from your view. And by flat-faced, I mean that it doesn’t appear that anyone has any emotion; everyone walks like robots, unsmiling, unwelcoming, scrutinizing. Actually, there was a day when I saw, in the crowd crossing the street, a woman walking very fast and wiping tears from her red eyes. Her lips were peeled in towards her teeth and she looked nervously around, hoping no one saw her with a real expression on her face.
She was real to me.
The city may never sleep, but to me it is also never alive. At least not like Istanbul.
There were kids playing mangala, the board right on the sidewalk with all the traffic going by, and kids huddled around to watch the competitors’ moves. Another group of kids ran by with a ball, throwing it as they ran, looking behind them at their friends and smiling. There were brightly colored clothes hanging on lines from the windows of buildings, drying in the wind. There were musicians on many streets with open instrument cases containing flowers and coins. We passed a restaurant with big windows in the front, revealing Turkish women at tables folding and kneading bread at a table. A little boy quickly walked by me carrying a gold tray set in a carrier. On the tray was a Turkish tea set- small handle-less glasses on saucers, a beautifully designed, rustic teapot steaming in the middle of the tray, and several spoons next to a bowl of sugar cubes. He turned in the shop ten paces before me. It must be teatime. Around the corner, there was a stonewall in the shade with several small tables aligning it. They had two small stumps for chairs on either side of the tables, some were empty, and some were filled with old men, their backgammon between them as they rolled the die. The tree branches hung above their heads to keep them cool, as people passed them by only slightly noticing who’s winning based off the facial expressions. These men, too, had their tea sets beside their tables and I wondered who it was that delivered it to them.
The whole city was at ease and living fully. It looked like they took the time to pursue and appreciate the small things that are often neglected where I am from. Tea time, board games, reading books in the garden, even kids playing non-electronic games. These are things that people in America talk about when they remember the good old days, the things they used to do “when they had time,” or “when they were young,” “when times were simpler.” Typically, we think of our grandparents with these lifestyles. And then when we’re finished reminiscing about these simple pleasures, we take to the couch and turn the television on. Walking the streets of Istanbul, it seemed to me that we are missing out on these little things that make life so good- these little things that bond us and make us live together- these little things that make us happy. These little things that we have forgotten, and dismissed from our era. They are things of the past for us, even boring for us now. Walking the streets of Istanbul, I wanted to be apart of this culture. They were having simple fun together, as one old man exclaims joyously across the table to the other after making an intelligent move. As one child laughs with the next as they pass the ball back and forth through the streets. As two women sit beside each other to talk and take in the sunlight with nowhere to go, nowhere to be. Just right there and nowhere else.
The time was moving slow here, and they needed nothing else.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s