The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour - George Orwell
When Mr. Orwell said this he might have seen some city which was reduced to a pitiful state because of some war, is what I think. Because that is exactly how I felt when I read about the latest protests in Istanbul & other parts of Turkey.
Last year in April, it was for the first time that me & Ritchie were away from each other for such a long time, after being married. It was 4 months and it felt like ages. So we decided to meet up somewhere in middle. Istanbul seemed convenient. Ritchie would come there from Stockholm and I was to join him there from India. Indians holding Schengen visa are offered visa on arrival in Istanbul, hence that was not an issue for an impromptu trip like this. Ritchie reached before me & had completed his visa process. When I reached the visa counter I saw him through the glass partitions on the other side, and trust me that waiting time seemed even longer than the 4 months & 10hrs travel I just had. The minute they stamped my visa, I straight away ran into his arms, and then from the corner of my eyes I noticed he had collected my luggage from the luggage belt. I was rather shocked, because that was a new suitcase I had bought & he had not yet seen it, so how on earth did he know it was mine!! On being asked, he very sweetly replied, "Sweetie, I just picked up the largest suitcase. After all who would bring all this luggage on a 4 day trip!"
The entire trip of Istanbul was just delicious, and I say delicious because we totally fell in love with the food there. We were warned by some friends earlier about the super tasty food there, but little did we know that 'super tasty' was a total understatement. Ofcourse we visited all the must see places. The palaces, mosques, gardens, but every chance we got we ate, and then ate some more, and then a little more . The main surprise was when we saw how much our own Indian Kashmiri food was influenced by Turkish Cuisine. This is always going to be remembered as a trip which we completely hogged, unless we get better food somewhere else & the possibility seems quite low. These pictures are just samples, there are lot more pictures of different types of Turkish ice creams, meat dishes, fried stuff, Turkish sweets, Turkish breads, sadly cannot post all of them here.
Unlike carvings found in few other European countries we have visited, the architecture in Istanbul was mainly inspired by glass and wall paintings. You do have a dress code when you visit mosque & traditional places. But in case you are a tourist & do not carry the traditional Islamic attire, then they do provide you with head coverings and long pieces of cloth to cover your body in case you are wearing sleeveless or shorts. And one thing I would like to add here, when we went to see the famous Sultan Ahmed Mosque, popularly known as the Blue mosque, I was really expecting some Blue color building, but it wasn't like that. Lot of blue paintings, but that is found in all the mosques, but yes the clothes they give you there to cover yourself is blue in color.
The Spice Bazaar in Istanbul is a must see. The moment you enter that market your nose will start tingling. An array of colorful spices lined up across the market is a sight to see. Infact the entire market looks like a Holi Bazaar, full of colors. Spices are not the only thing you get there. The selection of various types of tea, orange, jasmine, vanilla, lemon, the list just goes on. And it is not crushed powders or tea bags, they are real things, like for eg real jasmine buds and rose buds in the tea. We shopped for a lot of flavours and they are a treat. You also get small transparent glasses in which the Turkish people serve tea (like the one you see in food pic). We did pick up two sets and they are wonderful. Other than spices & tea you will also find lot of decorative items on sale there, carpets & the traditional lamps. We did a lot of shopping there, the key is you should be good at bargaining & ready to let go, because if not one shop you will surely get it at another shop for the price you are looking for.
Highlight of this trip was Ritchie's birthday. It was his birthday when we were in Istanbul. I had spoken to the hotel guys and got a midnight surprise cake organised. Past two nights before his birthday we were regularly being disturbed by kids of the family who stayed next room. It was sort of irritating. So on his birthday night when Ritchie heard the knock on the door he actually thought it was those kids, and went to open the door with an intention to complain to their parents. He was kind of taken aback when he saw the room attendant with a cake in his hand. The attendant gave his most precious smile and said, "Happy Birthday Mr. Thakur" and I was laughing uncontrollably. Thakur is what I call Ritchie, and I am Gabbar (obviously because of my size) and that attendant thought Thakur was his real name :D :D because that is what was written on the cake
I follow news everywhere in the world. But somehow I missed reading about the latest protests in Turkey. This morning though I read an article which mentioned about it, and went back into archive of that website to see, what really happened. I was really feeling bad seeing all the destructive pictures of the place where the protests were happening. That is what reminded me of our trip. Taksim Square is where we stayed, and it is a very busy and beautiful square. All that food we ate is from there. Streets are beautifully lit up in the evening with hanging chandeliers. Such is the grandeur that you cannot take your eyes off them.
If you see the below picture of destruction you would know what I mean. I am sure there are reasons for protests, but I am really hoping the square is restored to its former glory once all this is over.