Wow! I have been really busy BUT I wanted to come on to let you all know that I am officially in love with Istanbul. All it took was some good shopping, new friends and lots of great food. Right now I am getting home from work at around eleven every night because we are hosting a conference at our office but next week it should be back to normal and I can start having lots of deep feelings and start writing long rambling posts again!
Alright? It’s Feraz here with a special guest entry! I thought I’d tell you all about the scene here with Turkish Football. It has been very nice for me to live in a country again where football is the main sport so I’ve been taking advantage of that and have gone to a couple of matches already. First off, Sumeera and I went to a World Cup qualifying match on our second day in Istanbul – we saw Spain play Turkey at the Galatasaray ground, Ali Sami Yen Stadium. This match was sweet as hell! The only bad thing was that Turkey ended up losing in the last minute 2-1 after leading most of the match 1-0. However, me and Sumeera still really enjoyed ourselves as it was end-to-end stuff until the final whistle blew. The atmosphere inside the stadium was very good – I think b/c there’s no alcohol in the grounds here you don’t have to worry about it getting violent or anything like that.
Yesterday I went to a Besiktas match. They played the second leg of a Turkish Cup match, after having won the first leg 3-1. I was really excited about this game when I realized that tickets were only 20 TL (about $12-13) which meant that I could actually afford to go! I think I’ve fallen in love with Besiktas. They are the closest team to where we live in Istanbul – so close in fact that it took me about 10 minutes to walk to the game. And walking to the game was cool as hell man. I felt like a proper footy fan after all those years of armchair supporting. The main reason which I like Besiktas is that I feel like they’re the Turkish equivalent of Liverpool. Hence, just like Liverpool supporters, Besiktas supporters are known to be very loud and enthusiastic. In fact they have the world record! When Besiktas beat Liverpool in the Champions League last year the noise got up to 132 decibels (we won the return game 8-0 BTW). So…needless to say I was pretty damn excited about this one. When I took my seat I just had to take a couple of minutes to take it all in. The ground wasn’t even close to being full (for a number of reasons which I can’t be bothered to get into) but what a view! In the background you’ve got the Bosphorus, you can see all the way to the Asian side, then there’s a mosque right next to the stadium, and the open sky above, and massive hill on one side where fans can just about watch the match for free if they can’t get into the ground (I did this one day too). In fact, Pele has called the Inonu Stadium the most beautiful stadium in the world – I can see where he’s coming from there.
When the match got underway the chanting was immense. One side of the ground chants to the other side who then respond, and then it keeps on going back and forth until another chant starts up and then it begins all over again! Worrrd. I could get used to this. Overall, I’ve been very pleased with the football scene here in Turkey. People who are into football also know all about the English league and it’s easy to watch matches and keep up to date with what’s going on in the rest of Europe. Besiktas are one point off the top of the Turkish Super Liga so I hope I’ll get to experience what it’s like for them to win the league. Before that happens though I’m going to try and go to a couple more games. Next up should be the local derby with Fenerbahce – now that one will DEFINITELY be jammed.
To get the bad taste of being a foreigner out of my mouth I walked down the steep, steep road to the Bosporus and had one of the best moments of my life. I was walking along side the Bosporus and the sun was hitting the water in such a way that even with my sunglasses on, I could see millions of diamonds. The heat felt so good in contrast to the breeze coming from the water. I could hear the Imam leading Friday prayer at the Mosque beside the water and I could feel the words in every part of my body. I hope I can remember this moment for always. Of course I will remember it happened, but I hope I can remember it. The feeling of hope and of promise that one day I will stand before God.