Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Too Many Starbucks and Not Enough Screens


A couple of my friends from college (let's just refer to them as Tim and Sean) recently spent ten days in the city with Nellie and I. One of their countless observations concerning Istanbul was that there is "too many Starbucks". Agreed... there is too many of them on this planet. A second concerned windows and the lack of screens accompanying them in this country. At the time, the lively atmosphere prohibited deeper probing into the validity of the statement, but I was immediately skeptical as to the real practical utility of the screen. We composed a quick tune on the subject, moved on to greater philosophical ramblings, and let the question of supercilious window coverings disperse into the night air.
A normal being would let the subject die, but I had to exhume the corpse due to a throat illness and a glut of free time following the departure of my friends. Thus, over the next few days, I had little to do but vacillate internally over the need for screens on windows. Istanbul does indeed have a fair amount of mosquitoes; on the contrary, this is not sub-Saharan Africa and we follow local Istanbul custom by keeping numerous basil plants in the living space (according to Turks, mosquitoes don't like basil as much as Thais or Italians do). There is also the question of thieves and the easier access provided by a lack of screens, but the ubiquitous bars on all ground level homes usually provide a deterrence to would-be intruders. Points and counterpoints streamed through my consciousness until my brow burned and I gave up - banishing that silly debate from my addled brain. Flash forward to early this morning, when an event of such gravity occurred that my bi-partisan ramblings on the subject were forever quelled.
Our new apartment is located just a few blocks from this district's camii (mosque) and the first azan (call to prayer) woke me at ten to five. I generally tune-out the azan and rare is the time I am awoken by its cacophony. However, this time, the abrupt prelude of abrasive, crackling speakers led to such a sonorous, deeply beautiful melody that I was peacefully brought from my dreams. The nasal pitch of the call was softened by a wistful, melancholic undertone and as I listened in silence I felt that I could understand the Arabic words as though they were imperceptibly translated in my psyche. It was if I held my breath for the entire duration and when the speakers were disengaged and the crackling subsided, I gasped for air.
Severely self-satisfied and exhausted by this fleeting grasp of cosmic piety I quickly fell back asleep.
Albeit, there is no rest for the weary and, moments later, I was startled out of bed by a soft thud that emanated from the windowsill. It took my eyes but a moment to adjust to the darkness and to my great surprise a small ebony cat was perched on the cabinet beneath the window - in our room! My heart just about leaped from my chest and, invariably, the little brigand was as frightened as I. The critter hastily returned to the night scape from whence he came and Nellie woke up to me shrieking that our luck is forever marred as great Providence has bestowed the ultimate sign of our demise upon us - the black cat!
I didn't enter into cardiac arrest, but the ordeal was less then ideal. Needless to say, I am now a card carrying member of the pro-window screen lobby.



2 comments:

Carol said...

Thanks for all the photos! Love the new apartment and enjoyed the trip pictures with your family.

Sean said...

I love that song. Miss you guys.