Back from Istanbul (and back to blogging)


After Istanbul, like after all of my travelling, I’ve come back with a better perpective on life and on London. As much as I love this city, it is even more obvious that, in London, there is a coldness and a distance between people.

I am writing this as I am sitting on the Bakerloo line to meet a friend in Little Venice. People do not look at each other, but not just on the tube…everywhere. On the street, at work, in the pub… The main question that comes to mind is ‘why’? …Do people feel that looking at someone else might be perceived as rude or invasive (the most common explanation my London friends have given to me when I expressed my thoughts on this issue)? That would be strange, though, considering it’s such a multi cultural city. Could it be that people feel scared of what they might see if they look up? Or do they simply not feel the need to do so?

If that is so, then how is it possible? Curiosity is intrinsec to human nature, just like interaction with fellow human beings. Some cultures, as it seemed to be the case in Turkey and in Italy (my home country), take it at times to the opposite extreme, and people are often showing their ‘curiosity’ so much to become invasive and irritating.

Surely a balanced compromise must be possible. Interest in other people is not only legitimate but necessary and healthy! It keeps us connected to the world around us and it makes us a part of it. A friend was recently commenting on how she’d never notice a good looking man whilst on her way to work, as her focus is entirely on the day and tasks ahead. She said that to explain why she thinks people in London appear ‘distant’ to me.

There are surely times when I’m oblivious to others if I’m lost in my own thoughts. But I don’t think I am generally capable of involuntarily blanking out people around me. In fact, when I’m thinking about something, I project my thoughts on the people around me and imagine what they would do, what they might think. It sort of helps me to get a perspective on things. I like feeling aware of my surroundings and this includes wondering where the lady sitting next to me, who’s wearing a thick black fur coat, might be going to ..or what the slim blond girl sitting opposite to me might be reading whilst tapping her new Converse shoes.

Yet when I look up at her purposefully, we never meet eyes. Wait! Something funny has just happened: just as I was writing this last comment, I looked up quickly and – yes! – the blond girl was looking at me and smiling! Maybe she thought I was weird, or maybe she thought that it was nice for another person on the tube to notice her existance and show interest in what she was doing.

My purpose was to challenge her sense of curiosity. Surely, when two strangers meet eyes, it means that some healthy curiosity for other people must still be there!

Below is a small selection of photos from Istanbul (a beautiful city). Enjoy & I promise my next blog post won’t be in six months!

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Sultanahmet Parki

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Sultanahmet Parki, view over the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)

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Monkeys in a cage on a pavement in Gedikpasa Caddesi (Sultanahmet District)

ImageSunset from Topkapi Palace

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Topkapi Palace, inside the Hammam

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The Koran, Book Bazaar (Bazaar District)

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A wall in Yerebatan Kaddesi

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9 thoughts on “Back from Istanbul (and back to blogging)

  1. Well, welcome back! And here I thought I had insulted you so terribly, you had left blogging forever! 😉 Seriously, glad to see you back, and LOVE your photos – especially the last one. Looks like somebody put old broken crockery to good use.
    I can’t speak about Europe, but I’ve been in most of the major US cities, and the people behave much as you describe in London. The coastal cities (NYC and LA) are “colder” in their folk than the Midwestern cities like Chicago and Indianapolis. I won’t judge Atlanta unfairly, because I was there while they were getting ready for their Olympics back in 1996, and a lot of the streets were torn up and signs being moved. Even the supposedly warm Texans tended toward being aloof. I don’t think it’s anything premeditated, it’s just a lot of people going about their lives in a hurry, made worse these days by all our electronic toys. I will vouch that many city folk were a LOT more friendly on weekends, than during the week.
    Once again, welcome back, lovely lady, it’s nice to hear from you again! 🙂 (Oh, and not to sound like I’m plugging myself here, but while you were gone, the Devil learned how to ice-skate. Yep – I started my own [pathetic] blog! 😀 )

    • Aw thanks! Great to hear that my blog posts were being missed but also to find out you’ve finally given it a go! Well done, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the experience. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last interacted with the blogosphere and I definitely need to make amends to this. Bye for now (it’s almost 1.30 am over here and tomorrow Monday!).

      • No problem – I wasn’t expecting an answer, with the time difference. You must be bushed! Go rest yourself up, and take your time getting back into the swing. I got nowhere to go! 😀

  2. Welcome back! Yay! and yay for fresh perspective on life 🙂 I have notice this (not smiling or even exchanging glances more common in western advanced countries. Somehow I think the reason for that more than anything is the fear of not being smiled back at… which many might take personally as rude or rejection OR it could be that people are shy. I know I used to be shy, but I’ve overcome that now… I smile and greet people, familiar faces as well as new ones! 🙂 Have a great day. thanks for sharing.

  3. Missed this post but so glad I tuned in today. Istanbul is one of my favorite cities and my brother is moving there long term in February. I’ve been pricing tickets and can’t wait to go! Thanks for feeding my mind with dreams this bleak Monday!

    • Hi Marilyn, thanks again for dropping a line here! That sounds exciting… good luck to your brother with the move and make sure you post your own pictures after you’ve been there. And eat some amazing baklavas on my behalf too! 🙂

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