Monday, January 11, 2016

Istanbul's invisible magic

I have often wondered about déjà vu. How some things would suddenly feel like a part of you, like they have always been under the skin – running through your veins quietly. How you have been here before, maybe aeons ago. Or many lives ago.
Istanbul. Having read so much about it, to prepare for the dream tour, and, more so in one of my comfort fantasy novels, nothing could have prepared me for the pulse in that city. Like one of those echoes that sometimes rings through your soul. The ones that go unnoticed. The regular day job of living, leaves no scope of listening to those unnerving sighs from within your heart. It just doesn’t.
But Christmas 2015 was like a trip to the boulevards of my mind. Istanbul, you have made me more than the usual invisible wreath of bittersweet blossoms that I paint myself to be. More than the whining winds that rattle in my head. There is a place between the mysteries of the times past, and the fast paced modernity of the present – a place where time stops at wonders, smooths over rough patches and flows on effortlessly. Yes, Malachi had it correct in his words. Istanbul calls out to your soul.
Was I biased to the streets and monuments that I had read about numerous times? Istanbul was a place, where angels fell in love. How could I not be? Just with the vibe. The air. The music. An almost physical presence that I could, if I wanted to, reach out and hold for a beating second.
I don’t think words would be enough to summarise my three day visit to the magical city. I don’t think it can be summarised in three days. I would take a week to just walk around in Sultanahmet – the old roads, the tram routes, just walk past the shops, the little cafes, the road signs to different cities of the world. Walk aimlessly. The food that you see through the glass, or the thick black coffee.
Hard bread and cheese. So much cheese.
And you stand near the Hippodrome, surrounded by the majestic architectural wonders of Topkapi, Blue Mosque or Aya Sofia. And you breathe in the old air, with the cackling electricity of life's secret - the way all religions had been churned together to create such glory.
So, all you can do is walk and soak in. The summer air, the winter chills. Not too cold. Not hot at all. The buzz. The talks.
The incessant sounds of the Grand Bazaar. The colours. The vibrant, seducing colours. Some muted, or incandescent. Shining bright from the glass shards in the lamps in consecutive shops. Or the flavoured teas, so many, calling out to us tea lovers. A cacophony of life, music and joy.
I don’t want to pen down a travelogue, about the mystical Aya Sofia, or the Galata tower. And the effervescence of Istiklal. The ancient charm that still kissed some parts of the city, yet the present times meandering through Beyoglu. I would rather talk about that constant presence of something, a spirit, a whisper, in the streets there. A mix of everything that I can think of to define life. Of sometimes a glimpse of the misery. Of people in love. Trying to escape. Just being. Different colours. Tongues. Of a fleeting moment of joy in finding a Bengali trying to refill her Istanbulkart. Of the man by a restaurant balancing 5 wine glasses on his head, in tune with the street musicians. There was never a moment vacant. Of not wanting to explore more. To stop.
There was nothing empty there.
Could these be the rantings of a tourist? Yes of course. But as I stood there, staring at the cavernous, magnificent Underground Palace, wishing a little wish, watching the fishes swim past the coins, I would always be filled with awe for that moment. That breathtakingly, still moment of my life, where I was a character of history, fantasy and dreams. Out from the book, looking at the normal people. Basking in the magic. I almost had wings. Or maybe fins. Red horns. Maybe a blue beak. And feline eyes. A mythic creature, in a mythic land. And then again shape shift into a human to melt into the streets of the bazaar, the city.
This article wasn’t meant to be a journal to point out what you should definitely try, or the tops 10 things to do in Istanbul. It was more on what you would feel. Just beyond the horizons of beauty, the wonder and the city itself, the realism of the brick and the roads, is that realm of magic that you would feel inside you.  I hope that you do. Atleast once. No pictures, or pen would do justice to what the city is.
Istanbul, you chimera. You have bewitched me. And I would crave for that magic in every turn of my life. And I would suck on the spirit that I borrowed from you to imbue in mine. And carry that charm, in my blood henceforth.
An awestruck, hungry-for-more tourist, signing off.

1 comment:

  1. yes trust me, I thought you would post some pictures too, But last line stanza made pretty much sense, words speaks more than piks. top 10 things to do in Istanbul ? seriously, who wants that? , already many wrote about it just to get more visitors they lack the depth of experience through words. Yes pen did a lot of justice !! way more than piks can do sometimes :D. Just have a few questions, which places did u visit in Istanbul? the name of the cafe, the bazar, the roads if you can remember ( I am sure U can pretty well ). One last question who is Malachi ? are you referring to the book ?>