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Published: August 20th 2014
So I had a bit of a whinge in my previous post and I apologise if I lost any readers as a result... BUT my points stand 😊 Mostly though I am the idiot. Travelling without a gadget these days is a bit like having a passport without any pages. You are going to find yourself in difficulties at some point, particularly if you are dependent on the technology for blogging, travel bookings, flight changes etc on the go. Lesson learnt.
As I mentioned it is a year down the line and here I am back in Europe's largest city, or the Mıddle East's depending on your defınition of the geographic boundaries. What has changed? If anything it seems more frenetic this time around. I checked into a hostel last Thursday near Taksım and have used it as a base to explore the city. I came wıthout any sort of site-seeing agenda, having done a fair bit of that stuff last year. Primarily I wanted to escape the confines of my life in the UK, however fleeting it may be. To this end I have really enjoyed meeting new faces and engagıng with young vibrant young travellers from all over. I hadn't really realised how lonely life can be ın the West without a communıty. Whereas there I am a visitor amongst residents (extended family included), here I am amongst a community of visitors. We are reliant on each other in so many ways the community back in England is not. The flip side of the coin is that I have somehow regressed sınce last year to become a stereotypical, naive turista. Just this morning I got taken for a ride on a batch of laundry, paying well above the going rate because I was essentially bullied by an overbearing, rude man in a dry-cleaners cum launderette. The recommended place was only a 100 yards up the road as I discovered too late and am 25L poorer as a result. Yesterday I fell for an old trick: 'I give you gift' turned out to be 'I give you a free chain and tag but charge you through the nose when I write your name on it.' I know it is the same the world over but I feel I should be littie wıser for my travels.
I guess what I am saying is that there are many sharks out there and if you visit Istanbul try take some local advıce from those who do not stand to profit from your naivety. The guys and gals who work in the hostel are great for instance. They can be relied on for some solid advice. Perhaps due to my lack of awareness more than anything I have felt a little ındifferent toward the inhabitants of Istanbul this time around. Anyway, a little more on the hostel and the characters therein. I have met quite a few, some steroetypes, others quıte their own persons. Firstly Hannah, a lovely Canadian girl who majored in philosophy and English and with whom conversatıon has been food for my soul. Brett, a fairly conservative American soldier who loved clubbing and Turkish women (his words) but was loathe to spend money on public sevices (frustrating companion). Oh yeah, he also told everyone who asked that he flew UAV's for the US Army (definitely the sort of information to keep to one's self); Dave, a softly-spoken and exceptionally intelligent American from Boulder who had worked for Nasa and was now woking for a company buılding a weather satellite. Lovely guy and a dead-ringer for a young Bob Dylan. Tim, a madcap Aussie who was all go after a few drinks. He landed up losing Dave and I and going off to a Turkish house-party at 4 in the morning with 3 girls we had only met a few hours before; Jake, a rather intense Chinese-Canadian, a bit older at 40 years, who I never really broke the ice with; another Aussie, Colin, an Asian-Australian who has been tracking all across Europe by train. I even met a South Afrıcan guy, Johan, from Port Shepstone who now lives ın Ankara with his mum. He was a student of architecture travelling with hıs Turkish girlfriend and some other students mates. He confirmed what I had heard from so many other young white South Africans: I don't feel like there is a place for me in the country today. Much like my home country, Zimbabwe, the nationalist pendulum has swung back to the right, except that it was a black elite now and not a white, that was benefitting. He was making a new life for himself in Turkey which I applaud. Fuck nationalism and politics of race. Honestly. Once upon a time I embraced affirmative action and Black Economic Empowerment and whatever other acronyms or synonyms exist for essentailly the same thing - discrimatory practices given a veneer of legality - because I had this quaint notion that two wrongs really could make a right. It doesnt work that way.
So I have just discovered, as an aside and rather embarrassingly at this juncture, that the keyboard can be adapted to an English language configuration by clicking on the language button near the date and time at bottom right. As I said before, I am as green as an tourist plying their way through the Grand Bazaar right now.... Take it easy folks. The Thessadonian Walls await me.
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