Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How did it feel to be back, after four years?
Well, it was strange, to be honest; in many ways, I felt right at home again, as though I had never left Bakirkoy and Istanbul. It was as if I had tapped into another version of me, one who had stayed behind. I could see myself, walking the same streets, teaching the same lessons, involved in the same humdrum routines. This character, Turkish Paul, descended on me the moment I arrived in the airport. I found my Turkish suddenly sharpened, the way I behaved slightly changed, even the way I walked altered ever so subtly, and this persona departed only on the last day, as I packed him into my suitcase with all my other stuff. On the other hand, I remained observant of things I only half-remembered; the manner in which tired souls walk down hot night streets, with a rocking, rolling gait; the general rudeness of the street - think the way people are on the streets of London, but without the sense of encroaching on personal space; The breathtaking beauty of young Turkish women, their sense of poise or their languid sensuality; And the way that that the eye, amidst all the ugly, soul-grinding tower blocks and new buildings, yearns and strives towards a patch of beauty.
I also noticed the new. Whatever the shortcomings that Istanbul has, it is undeniable that it is making steps forward. The roads were perceptibly better, and there has been a clear attempt to make the general environment much more livable. There is still a long way to go, but it is moving in the right direction.

Walking down the main drag in Bakirkoy, Angus turned to me and asked, 'Dad, if twit isn't a swear word, then why is twat?'

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