Bombay and Istanbul

Eminönü has been the shopping district of Istanbul since the Byzantine times which makes it the busiest part of the city for the last 1500 years. My father and I would start in the Mısır Çarşısı (The Spice Market) and look at the birds, dogs and cats, fish, spices and teas, monkeys, cheese and sausages, hamsters, dried fruit and nuts. We’d have lunch in Pandeli which brings back images of aubergine and tender meat, and elderly waiters with pristine white shirts. And finally we’d walk up the street towards Suleymaniye, the most magnificent of the mosques in the city. I remember my father buying me toys and trinkets from the little shops in tiny and crowded streets: balloons, Chinese toys made from cheap plastic, a small radio, a green ring connected to a small rubber ball hidden in the palm used to spray water to the face of the unsuspecting onlookers.

I spent the last week of November thinking about Bombay.

I only have two posts about India here and I blame myself for my laziness, incompetency and perfectionism. If I delay my travel writing, I always end up losing the feeling of being there, the posts become mundane reports or encyclopaedic entries. So when I know too much time has passed since my travels to write about them, I end up trying harder, reading vigorously and spending more time on the piece which delays it even further until I totally lose my inquisitive tourist’s touch. So I could not write about Bombay, Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Delhi, Varanasi, Goa, and Lucknow yet. All of these locations deserve a post of their own.

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Aparna Weds Pratap

They wore red uniforms with flat hats, and around them were a couple of guys carrying huge lanterns. When everyone was ready, we started the march to the wedding area. We probably took 45 minutes for a distance of 2 kilometers because we stopped every few minutes and danced to the tunes of the band. We were joined by local kids on the way who pointed at me, an obvious foreigner in indian clothing, gaped and giggled.

Indian weddings are the closest that I have seen to the 40 days and 40 nights weddings of fairy tales. In Pratap’s case, the various functions took 3 days and 3 nights plus a reception at the his hometown Delhi. Everything except the reception was organized by Aparna’s family. The functions described below were all in Mumbai (aka Bombay), and were on December 12th, 13th, and 14thof the year 1999. Traditionally, the night of dances (Sangeet) and the day of henna (Mehendi) were only attended by women, but this is no more. History is repeated once again in India, men have invaded.

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Hindistan ve Din

Nehrin kiyisinda sabahin 6’sinda sabah sporunu (yoga) yapanlar, disini fircalayanlar, kahverengi su icinde sabah banyosunu yapanlar, meditasyon yapanlar, camasir yikayanlar, iki dua edip para alan rahipler, alna renkli toz (tika) surup para alan rahipler, mum ve cicek satanlar, gargara yapanlar, acayip hint halterleri ile vucut gelistirenler, cins cins turistler, balikcilar, cins cins turistlere incik boncuk satmaya calisan cins cins seyyar saticilar, kayik gezisi yapan turistler icin kayikli saticilar, olu yakicilar, olu yakilirken para karsiligi sure basina para alan duacilar, olunun sonuna kadar yandigini (para karsiligi) kontrol ediciler, olu yakarken kotu kokmasin diye tozlar ve bezler satan dukkan sahipleri ve daha daha seyyar saticilar ile karsilasmamak imkansiz. Bir diger imkansiz sey ise daracik sokaklarda hayvan bokuna basmadan yurumek.

Hindistan dinin sıkılıp suyunun çıkarıldığı, insanların inançları için hayatının son dakikasına kadar sömürüldüğü bir ülke. İçinde dinî bir ikon veya yazı olmayan bir çatı altı görmek mümkün değil. Özellikle eski şehirlerde, her baktığınız yerde, her duvar deliğinde bir dinî sembol ile karşılaşılıyor. Her taşıtta ya bir put, ya bir sure çıkartması var.  Birçok kapalı mekân – hatta bazen sokaklar – tütsü kokuyor.

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