After the wild 36 hours in Rome, I boarded the plane to Istanbul knowing that I would find some sort of relief there (here). After another successful bit of solo navigation, I met my hostess, Özgün, at the Ortaköy mosque. We had both had late nights and felt that we needed to nap, but both of us suffer from the desire to be young and to live in the moment - a tricky position. So, as the past and future do not exist and youth is a terrible thing to waste...we had dinner and took a long snooze, waking at midnight to go out. I felt an instant connection to Özgün, a petite girl with blond dredlocks, and can see a lot of myself in her, vice versa. We went to a few places off of Istikal - and sat at a street where there were so many round lamps that it seemed as though there were a thousand little moons around us. Özgün said ''live in the flow,'' and I listened.
The next morning we had tea at a place overlooking the Marmara Sea with two French fellas and a German doctor of Turkish descent. The German doctor had eyes like a jaguar. I mean it, I have never met a more catlike man. He even described his sentiments toward women and relationshi ps just as a big cat might - ''I like to do my own thing. When women want to be around me and try to keep me around it makes me bored and disinterested.'' Straight up cat statement.
Özgün left for a music festival that evening so I stayed at her flat with her father and strung together broken English conversations over delicious Mediterranean food. I met with Neil and Mika, my American friends, that evening but could not stay with them because a cat lives in their flat. Je detest le chat. I am not certain which came first, the allergy or the annoyance, but cats are not for Lindsays.
A couple of days later, Özgüun returned from the music festival and I had picked up some new Turkish words (peynir = cheese, tabak = plate, doydoum = i am full...). During the days of her absence, I roamed from Ortaköy (where I am living) over to Sultanamhet (where the aya sofya and the blue mosque stand) in 41 degree weather (celsius, folks - I am CRAZY)...which was a sizable distance in the heat. I sketched the Blue Mosque quickly and had a bit of an audience around me during my sketch routine. A guy asked me, in TurkEnglish, if he could purchase the sketch from me. Being such a terrible businesswoman, I told him that I would give it to him in exchange for two big bottles of water as I was very thirsty. Now he owns a Lindsay Minnich original and my thirst has been quenched.
Two people, Bethany (American from Pennsylvania) and Matoaz (Lebanese), whom are living in Saudi Arabia came to stay at Özgün's, as well. Apparently, Saudi Arabia is more fun than it is cracked up to be and a great place to make and save some money (if you hide it in your house, of course). Hmm...
I observed Neil and Mika teaching their class (they are English teachers at a chain called ENGLISHTIME). This is an easy job to procure for Americans, even without TOEFL certification, though they are certified. Mika's students had many questions for me and even offered to show me around Istanbul a bit. The following day (which day of the week, I cannot recall - I seem to lose track of time here in Istanbul), I took them up on their offer, after first seeing an incredible art exhibition at the Turkish Cultural Center. The artist is named Hüseyin Bahria Alptekin (click on his name). HE WAS A COLLECTER JUST LIKE ME! I have a tendency to fınd lıttle treasures all over the place and take them home with me, in order to create something beautiful with them later...this artist does the very same thing. His artist's statement was written on the wall at the cultural center and I felt very connected to this, as well. It's incredible to me that I had very little knowledge of Turkish art or the movements.
Savaş, the student in Mika's class that offered to show me around, helped me into the Blue Mosque -which was SO gorgeously ornate-and then took me back to his family rug business. We took tea (çay) and ate apricots in a room FILLED with handmade rugs. I love rugs. I looked around a bit and found a gorgeous rug with the most beautiful of patterns and Savaş tried to give it to me - this was a 600 year old rug worth thousands of dollars (and even more Turkish Lira). I told him that I could not accept the gift as it was far too nice for me. He told me that I could work for them and make a large commission just by sitting outside their shop and painting/drawing. It will be a nice thing to add to my colorful CV (along with insurance underwriter, state park worker, hiking guide, and preschool teacher).
That night, I drew a mural on the wall of Neil and Mika's apartment - of the Virgin Mary, of course. I will ask them to send me photos of the mural once I finish painting it.The photo below is me in the process of drawing...