I will start by saying this: I only drank two glasses of raki and 1 beer. It may be the motion of the boat, or perhaps dehydration of another sort that is giving me the throbbing headache I have after last night’s festivities.
Our dear friend, Regina, is departing Istanbul and starting a new life as a student at Columbia. So I will actually be able to see her more than when she lives in Turkey. But her other friends will miss her and so we had a Bosophorus night cruise as a going-away party. Everybody met at Ortakoy where we dodged screetching seagulls and watched couples share gum mastic ice cream cones and kumpir (baked potatoes with any number of strange toppings–pea and mayonnaise salad, cocktail weenies, corn, olive paste) while we waited for our private boat to show up. There were a mix of Americans, Turks, Brits, and Australians who make up Regina’s friends and we spoke in English as we watched boat after boat make completely inelegant crash-landings into the dock. When our boat (The Okyanus–why did I not notice last night?) arrived it’s top deck smashed into the fancy lit sign on the neighboring boat and the crews got into a shouting match in Turkish. But then we departed just at sunset and enjoyed a 3 to 5 hour float past the Ortakoy Bridge and the one after that and almost out to the Black Sea.
From Ortakoy on up, the shore is decorated with the stately old-money mansions (yalı) that everyone likes to fantasize about living in. Such fantasites are too remote for me, so instead I invent guerrilla theater. My current idea is to befriend some one who owns a yali with an enormous plate glass window into which you can see the entire grand room. Then we darken the outside, turn on a stobe light and when ships sail by we stage a crime complete with gunshots and blood-sprayed windows and see who calls the police. Or just setting up a movie screen and showing movies to people while they sit in boats. That’s probably more pleasant.
We ate dinner and drank and chatted until everyone got a little loose and then we went to the top deck and reclined on pillows and smoked narghile and listened to the most atrocious band on record. A little acoustic outfit playing the Doors, Elvis, and Hootie and the Blowfish. But Julie and I got involved in an animated conversation with a man who described how he took an Egyptian colleague to a brothel in Amsterdam, had to impersonate a doctor and do calisthenics in the poor woman’s quarters. I laughed so hard my stomach muscles are sore.
Despite Julie, Regina, and I feeling pretty groggy in the morning heat, we trekked to the Tarlabasi produce market so I could visit my watermelon boyfriend, my t-shirt boyfriend, the Disco Boys, the Cheese Guy, Regina’s avocado boyfriend, and Julie’s olive boyfriend This is the same market in which we accidently bought marijuana last summer. We have lots of friends there. We must also have enemies as well–two old ladies stole Julie’s wallet while she walked through the market. In the three years she’s lived her nothing like that has happened, and fortunately the only things in there were her bank card and residency permit. Hours later, after she went to the police station in the district to get a form to apply for a new card, another police station called and told them the onion seller found her wallet and turned it in. So now Julie has an onion boyfriend.