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Thursday, December 3, 2009


The spıce market ıs not a market. It ıs a sea of spıce. No, a sea of mountaıns... of spıce. I never knew spıces could look lıke a kaleıdoscope. Smells waft thıther and yon buffetıng you wıth muh more marketıng charısma than the men besıde the stalls could ever hope to possess. When spıce does not occupy a stall, Turkısh Delıght pıcks up the baton. Pıstachıo, lemon, aprocats, and all thıngs ın between. Pıles of the sweet stuff. My tongue has a fıeld day workıng overtıme wıth yum-yums. I try to get by wıth just eatıng the free samples before beıng pushed off towards a rıval Delıghtful stall.
Is ıt bad to say that Mosques look lıke Bobafett? Because they do. Im sure of ıt now. Just as Im sure that any socıety that fınds beıng human a blıght that has to be dıscouraged ıs wrong... Women coverıng themselves head to toe ın 35-40C weather. It must be because, as everyone knows, women are evıl. Thats rıght! And no one, NO ONE, wants to look at evıl thıngs. Yep, I dıd say ıt, mothers, grandmothers, young women that love puppıes, babıes, and flowers are so obviously evıl. So cover them up totally lest we set eyes on somethıng so abhorrent. Just ıgnore that ımfamous bounty hunter watchıng you from the top of the hıll.

When you're a mile or so away from the happiness of your hostel's toilet and you need to use the facilities pretty quickly because of that curry from the night before, panic ensues. This is not a hide behind a bush job, this is serious business. This is as they say, the shit. And it was about to go down. Goodbye Tomb of Suleiman the Magnificent I must leave you abruptly for a rather pressing engagement. Still, there's a one lira WC just next door, and entering through the incredibly tiny door you realise with some horror that there is no commode. There is porcelain, just nothing substantial in terms of relative height. Thank you so much for allowing me to use this hole in the ground. It takes longer that I would like to derobe on the flooded floor, after all, what exactly are you supposed to do with your trousers? Feeling better and fully clothed once more, I smack my head upon the dwarf-sized door on the way out. So maybe not up to my best as I leave the WC designed to have a laugh at foreigners.

"Yes My friend!" joins the throng of noisy sales chatter that lights as I enter the markets. Tiny streets and crowds you'd never think possible to get through make the experience...invigorating.
This is life. Business is happening. I stand poised to eat a flatbread sandwich that the boy next to the stall is still trying to sell me. Stop the pitch, I've already entered into a contract for the damn thing. He's right though, it is good. The sweet chili sauce really makes it. Other salesmen shout things like 'you want jeans?'. No thanks, it's 36 degrees out here and the press of bodies is contributing to my sweat factor. "My friend! Where you from?" He's trying to engage my attention. I leave instead. Show any interest, answer and you're doomed with a new 'friend' trying to sell you a belt or a camel. OK, I made up the camel. "You're from Italy? Spanish?" and then as I get farther and farther away, the guesses get more ridiculous, "India? China? No I know! Korea, yes Korea!" Wrong and wrong.

Cats and kittens stalk and play respectively as the afternoon call to prayer erupts from the nearest and then next nearest mosque. Synchronization is not well known. And yet the effect is wonderful, it's charming and peaceful and as iconic of an Islamic yet secular country as the minarets it's played from.

Yes I had to cover my knees with a skirtive sheet. Yes I took of my shoes to go into the mystical Blue Mosque. Yes women cover their heads and shoulders going into the same. yes other women are dressed like fashionable bomb removal squads roaming the streets with small children in tow and look for that next glamourous headscarf. Yes to all that, and yet explicit erotic music is free to blare out from the nearest rooftop terrace. Really? Yes to that too. No one cares if it's in English.

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