“For me it has always been a city of ruins and of end-of-empire melancholy. I’ve spent my life either battling with this melancholy or (like all Istanbulus) making it my own.”
-Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories
and the City
I will build a boat
I will keep sailing
I will keep sailing
Beyond the seas there IS a town
Where windows are open to epiphanies
The rooftops are inhabited by pigeons///
Gazing at the fountains of Human Intelligence
Every ten-year-old child holds a bough of knowledge
The townsfolk see in a brick row a flame,
Or a delicate dream;
Dust can hear the music of your feelings
The fluttering wings of mythical birds are audible in the wind
Beyond the seas there is a town
Where the Sun is as wide-open as the eyes of early-risers
Poets are the inheritors of water, wisdom, and light
Beyond the seas there is a town,
So one should build a boat.
“A destruction, an annihilation that only man can provoke, only man can prevent.”
You walk down alleyways and dead-ends. You circle the squares and roundabouts of your memory. You recognize the feel of the summer heat on your skin. That is yours for ever. Passing by an open window, you know the smell of the mid day meal cooking on a stove. You are sure the fried onions would have a sweet taste on your tongue if you were called in to share the repast. You should be in sync with the city’s pulse, this beating heart that you sense against the soul of your shoes.
And yet you see it cracking, crumbling, crashing. For years now, for a long time. It is soundless, slow, steady. You are walking down narrow lanes, tree lined avenues and around street corners, all renamed reshaped. Where there was a door there is gaping hole. Where there were windows, blind darkness within an empty frame. A three legged chair abandoned to its fate, a stuffed bear for the alley cats. Cities no longer in control of their past or their destiny, abandoned to the pillage of the greedy, of the small limited minds.
You walk down narrow lanes and pass by filigreed garden gates. You look for stories, memories contained within the walled ruins that were home to all that. And so much more than that. The heart and soul of the city.
You find a city without borders a city with no past, no future. And you remember having read this:
"If I see my city as beautiful and bewitching, then my life must be so too.”
-Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: memories and the city
-Parinaz Eleish Gharagozlou