One thing you can’t hide, is when you’re crippled inside

Goodbye Maramara dog. Goodbye simit man

In the last week I have lost two very important parts of my morning routine and my life.

Every morning on my way to the metro I pass the Marmara hotel. There are stray dogs all over our neighborhood. In fact one even sometimes sneaks into our apartment building and sleeps outside our door. So, it was quite strange that at the end of Istiklal street, by the Marmara hotel, there was a dog that lived outdoors but had his own dog house. 

Feraz and I used to joke that he was the only dog in Istanbul who had a dog house. So whenever we were coming or going, we would see our little friend. We grew quite fond of him. The only problem was that he looked like the saddest, most sorry thing you ever saw. It was clear that he was in a bad state.

But still I was shocked to pass it the other day and see a girl my age standing in front of the dog house, looking as if she was holding back tears. I looked up to see the dog house, but it was different now. There was a large flowered wreath hanging on it, marking the name and date of the dog’s life. 

For tourists, visitors and people who saw him everyday, he was a constant. Even the taxi drivers commented on his passing away. I will miss seeing his little face every day, but I am happy his pain is over and I hope that he is in doggy heaven and one day I can play with him. (Assuming doggy heaven is like regular heaven, I don’t want to be stuck alone with all the doggies 🙁 )

I passed the doggie going into the metro and when I would come out of the metro I would be greeted by the simit man

The first time I saw him I knew he didn’t belong to this life. This life of selling bread on the side of the street. With his long slicked hair, his button down shirt and his worldly air, he either belonged at a club or somewhere making and breaking lives. No, the simit life was never for him. But still, he sold those simit. Every morning, he waited by his simit cart looking as melancholy as you would expect a man of Istanbul to look. I always wanted to say hello, to start a comrardery so that somehow he could know that I knew.

But in those first weeks when I felt somehow lost in Istanbul, I found comfort in him. He too was a stranger, even if he had lived in Istanbul his whole life. So, I came to value him, to look forward to seeing him in the morning. Even when I would forget about him, there he would be, to remind me of how far I was coming along, to show me how I was changing as he continued his crusade of selling simits.

As suddenly as he came into my life, he disappeared. There is a new simit man now. He inspires nothing in me. He is short and seems too aware. I always see friends coming to visit him. There is not an ounce of melancholy in him. I wonder if they are brothers or cousins. If I should approach him and ask him about the old simit man. Did they have a simit war one night and this new shorty was the victor? I have soo many questions. But I don’t want answers. Instead, I like to think my simit man has found his club. He has found the lives he has to break. I am so proud of him.

Once I Was…

Yesterday, I had the best birthday of my life.

It wasn’t a birthday with many presents, or an elaborate surprise. It didn’t have lots and lots of people. It was simply perfect.

As twelve o’clock came, Feraz and Fahad sang Happy Birthday to me with a little bit of for she’s a jolly good fellow and hip hip hooray thrown in. Before we went to sleep Feraz told me a story of a small village where my mom gave birth to me and an angel came to him in Britain when he was three and a half and told him I was born. He talked about how happy my mom was and my dad picked me up and kissed me on my forehead. Then he said that one day we will be together in heaven with our little babies. I was crying by this point and already I felt like I had the best birthday. He said that in heaven he will buy me Gucci bags and Prada shoes and we can meet all the people we loved in this life. 🙂
The next morning I woke up to Feraz walking in to the room holding birthday cake and singing Happy Birthday. Feraz knows exactly how I like my breakfast in bed! As I drank my Nescafe and ate my cake he began my birthday morning sound track. The first song was “Wrong” by Depeche Mode. This quickly became a dance party and we sang as loud as we dared so as not to wake up Fahad. “I was born with the wrong sign in the wrong house!” Next was “The Drugs Don’t Work” by the Verve. I know these don’t sound like the best birthday songs but they are my faveees and were a perfect start. After that it was “Wonderwall” by Oasis and then Bob Marley and Morrisey. Feraz had made an amazing mix for me to get ready to. While I got ready Feraz ironed my clothes and helped however he could. I left for work in the greatest mood!

After work, Feraz, Fahad and I took the ferry across the Bosporus. It was just before sunset and the sky had that magical quality it does at that time of day. In the horizon we saw the pinks and oranges and all along the coast lights were slowly appearing to welcome the night. When we arrived at the dock we found a beautiful and eerie musjid. I climbed up a narrow staircase with some broken steps to reach an empty balcony. After my prayer, I laid down and looked up at the beautiful designs in the dome of the musjid. Somehow I dozed off into such a peaceful rest and when I woke up I was afraid that Feraz and Fahad would be freaking out because they couldn’t find me. I hurried down the staircase scaring the women that were praying on the lower level and found that Feraz and Fahad were still praying! I felt like I must have gone into some time warp!

As we left the musjid, there was a warm breeze that wrapped us up and we walked to the restaurant Feraz had picked out. The food was so good and the waiter and staff made the meal even better. Afterwards we walked along the coast and marveled at the power and mystery of the water. The warm breeze was still with us and I felt like I was in some kind of dream. Along the water there was a tea garden filled with people unwinding from their long days and all along the water, young couples in love were paired up. We saw three men exerting all their energy as they pulled up huge nets filled with mussels that they would sell the next day.

On the walk back to the ferry I found a small stall where dresses were hanging. Even at this late hour, it was still open and I excitedly picked out two dresses to remember this day by. By this time the night had fully descended and all around us the lights of our majestic city sparkled. Although Feraz had still planned to go up by Galata tower, I wanted the night to end just like this and perhaps for the first time in my life, I said no to dessert . But the universe was insistent that I end my day with something sweet and when we passed an ice cream stall on the way home, I couldn’t resist.

I have lived twenty-six years now but yesterday I felt I belonged in this world. Thank you to all of you who have helped me make it here, who have made life so magical, the days so beautiful, my heart light and who fill me with the promise that we are working towards a better world.