So, I went on a (failed) journey to find a post office today, so I could send a letter to my brother who has just joined the Navy and is currently braving bootcamp. I looked at our big book of detailed maps for different parts of Istanbul and located a post office not too far from our flat. And I only had to follow or find three streets, so the directions weren’t too complex or anything.
Off I went, feeling pleased with the nice, not-too-cold weather and refreshing air. I found one street I was looking for, and according to the map, the street across from it was the one I should head down. However, this street didn’t have the name I was looking for. But I headed down that way anyhow. Down, down, down the hill. Turn left. No street signs. Wander around. Turn left again. Hm. Confusion.
I went into a shop and asked for directions. The man recognized the street I’d written down and I asked for the PTT (name for the Turkish post office). He took me back outside to point me in the right direction. Another man came over to assist and he spoke English. He told me that the PTT was just a little ways up the hill, not too far. So, smiles and thank yous all around, and up the hill I go.
Up, up, up the hill. No post office to be seen. So, back I am on Istiklal Caddesi. I walk back towards our flat looking for the name of the street I was originally supposed to head down. I found it! So, back down another hill. Past some shops, just like any other side street around here. Then I turned right, and then a quick left. On down the hill, very steep now. A young man walks past me in the opposite direction. I look up and catch one of those time-stopping, eye-popping views of Istanbul. You’re on a hill and you can see houses and buildings and mosques, hills and hills of them, stretching out before you. It makes you feel like the city goes on forever, like an ocean. Man, I love it. And then, I hear a bird. A real song bird! I haven’t heard a song bird in months! I feel happy. Suddenly, I realize its absolutely… silent.
Silence is a rare thing in this massive, heaving, bustling metropolis of 12 (?) million people. I am in a little alleyway of heavenly solitude and peacefulness. I keep walking downhill, very slowly. Taking little baby steps, trying not to disturb the silence with my noisy, clopping footfalls. I want each footfall to be a feather on the pavement. There was a great, moss-covered wall towering over me on the left, muffling sounds, a few squacks from seagulls, and the beautiful expansiveness of hills covered in brightly painted, pastel apartment buildings blooming with satellite dishes, like alpine flowers growing out of the nooks and crannies of stony mountains.
Slowly, slowly down the hill. Enjoying every little drop of silence. It won’t last for long and then it will be back to the mind-blowing noise of the roaring city. It was a joyful moment.