As is typical on Sunday mornings here in Istanbul, the revelers that kept me up for much of the night are beginning to walk home (more accurately they are attempting to walk). Weekends are taken very seriously here and while lying in bed last night around 10:00 pm I could hear people in the little establishments singing their lungs out. Yes, the whole bar gets a song into its collective head they sing. From what I could tell anything from Stephen Foster to the Turkish national anthem is fair game for singing at 3:30 a.m. (Stephen Foster might be a stretch).
At 7:30 this morning I looked out the living room window, and to my surprise, I saw the couple that had the big blow out last Sunday morning staggering home. Yes, the same two! They were arm in arm and passing a bottle of wine, no doubt a bottle of fine Chardonay, back and forth. While they were getting along famously, one even bracing the other as they bent down to pick up their dropped cigarette, they still entertained me. They get in front of my building and he decides to take a pee in the street, and she puts a pretty good dent in the wine bottle while waiting on him (toppling over, head-first while again retrieving her cigarette from the street but without his support this time–(but she saved the wine!). Once that is complete, they walk ten more steps and enter their building next door.
I spent the next hour or so trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the day. I was feeling hard to please but I eventually concluded that going to the upscale neighborhood of Bebek might be fun. After all, they have what is generally known as the most glamorous Starbucks in the world. This decision meant that I would have to use a new form of public transportation, the bus, and this deserved adequate research since I wasn’t carrying my passport and didn’t want to end up on the Russian border or something. I finally get out of the house around 10:00.
I never made it to Bebek.
On my way to the bus I had to pass Taksim Square. There I found what was shaping up to be a very big happening. There were huge banners everywhere. There were police snipers on tops of the buildings all around the square. The was a big viewing stand errected on one side of the square. There were literally thousands of police around. The streets were blocked off. This is going to be big and I can’t imagine that it will be anything less than the Prime Minister or President. So of course I stopped and watched.
Well it ended up that there were no dignitaries, no prime minister, no president. But what was going on (at least I think) was some sort of self agrandizement by the Polis (police) while at the same time giving them a chance to show the people who was in charge here. The speeches got long (especially since I couldn’t understand a word), but it was worth the wait because after the speeches was nothing less than a military parade.
In reality it is probably difficult to seperate the police and military here. They were very proud of showing off their armored vehicles with water canons on them. Then they were even prouder to show off the actual tanks (with canons of not the water kind). In the background police helicopters were flying in formation overhead with sirens so loud that you could hear over the entire city.
Let’s see, there were other things too. There were Turkish folk dancers; you always need those at a Polis event. There were police officers (men and women) doing motorcycle stunts on their bikes; all normal I suppose. There were police dogs doing tricks (really good ones); one could even cout to five. There was the Polis Marching Bugle Corps, there was the Polis Marching Drum Corps, there was an example of every kind of car they use in the force (starting with Mini Coopers and moving through Mercedes limos), it goes on and on. The spectacle was nearly two hours and very difficult to photograph.
I didn’t make it to the Starbucks in Bebek, but maybe I won’t have so many distractions tomorrow. All in all it was a full and exciting day. Then I had lunch.