No. 18 May 2002

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Istanbul?  Yes, Istanbul.

Karen-Claire Voss

It’s warm again at last, and just as every spring, the air feels rife with possibilities.

Uh, oh.  Having only just begun, I fear I must stop right here, and explain what “rife with possibilities” means, lest those of you for whom English is only a second language are lost to me, perhaps forever.

The word ‘rife’ is a very old word.  It’s an adjective.  It was used in Middle English (and that’s old), but it is even older than that, because originally it came from the Old English word, ‘rfe.’  And somewhere back in the mists of time, the word ‘rfe’ came from the Scandanavian ‘rfr.’  Each of these words:  the modern ‘rife’, the Old English ‘rfe,’ and the Scandanavian ‘rfr’, has the same basic meaning: 

         1.  In widespread existence, practice or use; increasingly prevalent

        2.  Abundant or numerous

So, since my emphasis here is on the second meaning of the word, when I say that something is “rife with possibilities” I mean to say that there is ‘bereket.’  And, boys and girls, bereket is exactly what we have these days, when the cold winds of winter have yielded before the warm, redolent breezes of an Istanbul spring.

 
These are the kind of days when we forget how we complained that it was too cold, or that the roads were a mess because of ice and snow (and the belediyeler were shamefully late in spreading salt and/or cleaning up, and sometimes, didn’t bother doing anything at all!), we forget how high the electric and gas bills were, we even forget the time we had to wait in the snow at a corner in Davut Paţa (never mind why) for one hour before finally getting a taxi (the ones that passed were all full), and how every time a new group of people came to the corner (which was also the place where the minibuses came, enroute to obscure places even I, who is pretty savvy about Istanbul, haven’t ever heard the names of) one or another person would ask you if you were a ‘yabancý’ (this was a rhetorical question, of course) and you felt the weight of all the questions they didn’t ask hanging heavily in the air.  Now, you stroll down the street and feel this incredible sense of well-being. 

I have often wondered why it is only at New Year’s that people feel inclined to make resolutions.  Why not in the spring as well?  It seems as if it would be the perfect time – I mean, we usually clean everything in the house.  Why not make resolutions, too?

I know that I often exhort my readers to do something.  You must forgive me for that.   Maybe it’s because I am the mother of three daughters, now all grown, who haven’t wanted or needed anything I had to say for years. Or maybe it’s because I have left off trying to teach young students (because it seems that once they get to orta okul, it’s all over), and I need an outlet for my motherly instincts.  Or maybe it’s something else entirely.  Never mind what it is.  Why I do this is not so interesting.  Rather than wasting time trying to second-guess my motives, why not resolve not to let one more summer slip by without doing anything unusual, purposeful, or meaningful.  For example, perhaps you make up your mind to finish some big project that has been nagging at you for a long time, or you finally finish that short story or poem that you began God knows when, or . .

See what I mean?  Everything really is rife with possibilities . . . A very wise man once said:  “The possibilities for everything exist only for a limited time.”  Well, my idea is that that time is NOW.  Even if you can’t think of anything to do right except to think, there’s a great place to go and do it.

Follow in the footsteps of the likes of Orhan Veli and go to Rumeli Hisarý to sit with a glass of tea, watch the sea, and dream.  A resolution to do something will surely come.  There’s a wonderful café where you can sit inside in inclement weather (in the old days, before they remodeled, there was an old-fashioned wood stove regulars used to sit around in the winter).  On good days, you can sit on the terrace.  The place has an official name, but everybody calls it “Ali Baba,” and everybody knows where it is.  Just go to Rumeli Hisarý and ask somebody – the shoeshine boy, one of the guys who hang out by the sea next to the wall of the restaurant where the iskele used to be -- doesn’t matter whom, they’ll tell you

You should hurry, ‘cause the place has changed hands and this is the very last season it will be a çay bahçesi.  I hear that next year the new owners plan to turn it into a kebab house.  The end of an era, that’s for sure.  Anyway, if you do go, tell the waiter “Karen Haným, the American writer with the purple hair,” sent you.  I don’t know that you’ll get a discount, but I can almost guarantee the service will be fast and smiling.

Readers can write Karen-Claire at karenclaire@bnet.net.tr or visit her website at

http://www.istanbul-yes-istanbul.co.uk/ 

 

No.1- April 2000 No.11 April 2001 No. 20 July 2002 No 29 April 2003
No.2 June 2000 No.12 May 2001 No. 22 September 2002 NO 30 MAY 2003
No.3 July/August 2000 No. 13 June 2001 No. 23   October 2002  NO 31 JUNE 2003
No.5 October 2000 No.14 July 2001 No 24 November 2002 NO 32 JULY 2003
No.7 December 2000 No.15 August 2001 No 25 DECEMBER  2002 NO 33 August 
No.8 January 2001
(No. 8 Ocak 2001 - Türkçe tercume
NO 16 September 2001 No 26 January 2003 No 34 September 
No.9 February 2001 No. 17 April 2002 No 27 February 2003 No 35 October 
No.10 March 2001 NO 19 JUNE 2002 No 28 March 2003 No 36 January 2004

No 37 February - March 2004 No 38 April 2004

 

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