I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to drink. But I’m 25 years old, so it only takes about 5 minutes for this German guy in the hostel to convince me otherwise. “Alright,” I say, “one drink.”
6 pints and 4 shots of jäger meister later, I take the following masterpiece of a photograph:
I wake up at 8am to a screeching fire alarm. I roll over in bed, annoyed. The four other people sleeping in the room roll over too. Somebody grunts. The alarm continues.
I sigh loudly and pull myself out of bed. As I peek out the door to see what’s going on, smoke billows in.
Closing the door, I walk back to my bed and lazily pull on my shoes and coat. I’m still not awake and my body moves as though in a dream. As I turn to leave, I think to grab my phone.
Suddenly, a man with a fire extinguisher rushes into the room. He looks around wildly at its sleepy occupants. Most people have pulled pillows over their heads to block out the noise.
Catching on to his sense of urgency, I blurt out the first thing that comes to my mind: “Qu’est-ce qui se passe?”
He cocks his head to the side. He doesn’t speak French.
“Fire?” he responds, unsure if he’s answering my question. He looks around confused and then repeats himself, this time more sure: “Fire,” he says. Then he leaves.
I’m hungry. I tell the guys on the couch next to me that I’m gonna go get some food soon. I then spend:
15 minutes – talking about food in Istanbul
2 minutes – putting away my laptop and grabbing my coat
45 minutes – walking around the neighborhood looking for food
10 minutes – looking at different restaurant menus
20 minutes – walking back, still looking
30 seconds – deciding to walk into a shady place with no menu
2 minutes – explaining that I’m not lost and I want a sandwich
5 minutes – walking back
TOTAL: 1 hour 39 minutes 30 seconds + 1 dürüm chicken wrap
The firefighters are taking a long time. My money is in the building and I’m hungry.
I tell someone that I’m hungry and he offers me a banana. Another guy, listening in, insists that I take his apple. He tells me it’s an Istanbul apple.
I eat the banana. When the firefighters leave, I’m able to get back in my room, grab my stuff and head to a boat so I can make my way to the European side of the city and use a friend’s shower. On the boat, I order a cup of tea.
I’m walking around with this girl who went to the same university as I did, back in Texas. We have nothing to talk about.
“Let’s go to that mosque,” I tell her, pointing up ahead.
We walk up to the mosque. She puts on a hat and I put a scarf over my head. We take off our shoes and we go inside. I can’t see any women anywhere and in front of us are a bunch of men praying. We stand around awkwardly.
I see a small side door with a sign in Turkish on it. I stare at it for a minute or two, translating. It literally says:
“Women have a space that is available.”
“Come over here!” I tell the girl, “this is the women’s area.”
She comes over to me and I try to open the door, but it’s locked.
I get off the boat and start walking back to my hostel. Shoe shiners are lined up beside the sea. As I look at them they call out to me “buyurun, buyurun!”
At first I ignore them, but then I look down at my dirty leather boots. I decide that I’ll stop the next time I see a guy.