Sunday, June 15, 2014

Istanbul in the Round

My entire knowledge of Istanbul came from the latest Rick Steves paperback. I easily know enough to author a facebook comment, even one in ALL CAPS. I am eminently qualified to spray my point of view globally.

I've been thinking about circles since we returned from Turkey, where we had spent 6 days pillaging Istanbul with our eyeballs.

Things that are Round in Istanbul


Penmanship. The old Arabic letters are inarguably round. And Turks favor a chubby, lovable font even today.

Conversations. 

Whirling Dervishes
A chat or a sales pitch can spiral in a circular fashion.  This can go two ways. The discussion can be a kind of crowdsourced merry-go-round. Or it can be a lot of standing around with eyebrows raised while some whirling word dervish flattens a little patch of dry ground.



Architecture.

Aya Sofia
Domes are round. Buildings sporting domes are also round. I read that Mohammed had blood made of divine light. Pictures of holy personages are forbidden. It would be offensive to insinuate that such immense spirit could fit inside shabby little human bodies.

I was thinking that a dome could contain a great spirit like the shell around an amazingly lush air watermelon.

simit istanbul turkey
A very delectable and circular simit


City Blocks and Street Food.

Istanbul has no city blocks. They are city circles. There are no squares on the map. The straightest path anywhere is kind of shaped like a bagel, or a simit, which is some seriously awesome Turkish street bread.

Protection against evil looks


Nazar Boncugu.

A powerful and inarguably round pendant for protection against evil forces, evil looks, greed and other non-desirables.



The Super Spirograph

We shambled through the Grand Bazaar, a seedy and glorious institution constructed in 1455. The smell of Turkish coffee and spices pleased my wondering nose. Tea runners with copper trays and medieval heritage clattered through crowds. Vendors hawking super spirographs beckoned from every corner.

I admired their entrepreneurial spunk at the same time that breathtaking and ageless Ottoman tile, silver and gold and moonlit blood-red velvet crumbled to plastic and fake Mark Jacobs handbags.





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