In Istanbul, I found myself sitting in the Fatih Mosque one day. My friend and I were visiting that area of Istanbul specifically to check out the mosque. This district is in the “Old City” of Istanbul but the area is not as touristy as say the Sultanahmet district we were staying in.
I took off my Chuck Taylors at the entrance of the mosque, taking a picture of my shoes next to the set of men’s shoes that were at the entrance. In my mind, the picture was representative of the fact that the women’s entrance was the same as the men’s entrance. Alas, the actual picture just looked like two pairs of shoes next to each other with the commentary in my head lost.
I made my way in and took in the mosque. The Fatih Mosque was quite the structure, beautiful in every way.
I went to the women’s section to conduct my prayers. When I finished I glanced around and saw that there were two girls to my right. I waved hello and they did the same. They gestured to my camera and made “picture taking” motions with their hands so I scooted over to them and made introductions. They didn’t know English and unfortunately, my Turkish was limited to saying “Hello”, “Good Morning”, “Please”, and “Thank you”, which will only get you so far. However, I was still able to introduce myself and find out their names, which was how I got acquainted to Zahra and Hulia (not sure about the spelling of their names). I showed them the pictures of the mosque that I had taken with the camera. They understandably laughed when I got to the one with my shoes as they scrolled through all the pictures. Soon, we parted ways.
That’s the thing with traveling – you make these random connections and share things about you with people you will never see again.
Granted, it’s all pretty general information, like sharing your pictures or talking about where you live/work but it does enough. We all become comfortable enough with one another so we could all be ourselves for the limited time we are in one another’s company, whether it be be because we’re all cramped together on an airplane, going to see each other stuff our faces as we embark on a food tour, or because we’ll all all be in close quarters in a hot air balloon 1,000 feet up in the air over Cappadocia’s landscape.
As a self professed loner, I’m surprised by how chatty I get with complete strangers. Sometimes, I even say things about myself that people I might see everyday may not know about me. I sometimes even ask stuff that I probably shouldn’t. During the food tour for example, I asked the couple that were on their honeymoon how they met. Frankly, none of my business but dagnabbit, I’m a sucker for those stories.
There were a couple of times I was tempted to give folks my card (why do I even have these things if I never pass them out?) but I chickened out. I think that’s something I still have to work my way towards, to actually create a lasting contact beyond the few moments. Next time, InshAllah, next time.
I came back to the States a little over a week ago and wanted to wrap up my posts about my trip with this last one. I had such an amazing time and am, once again, so grateful to have had this opportunity. I had a great trip overrall but Istanbul and Cappadocia made a huge impression on me and I would love to go back. It’s a testament to the fact that even just taking the commuter ferry in Istanbul from Kadikoy on the Asian side to Eminonu on the European side right after sunset, at just 3 Lira (about $1.50) can offer a really cool experience.
Great sights, great people, great food, great coffee… nothing much else you can ask for.
Thanks for reading my posts while I was traveling! If anyone is interested, I put up my pictures on Flickr: