Friday, July 18, 2008

Stamboul ramboul (last Monday)

You know, I HATE a lot of things about the Brits. Especially the Victorian Brits, the ones who were oh-so-cool and WE-run-the-world-dincherknow, the kind who went to Rugby and took up the white man's burden. The very thought of those guys gets my back up. (White man's burden! Aaaagghh.) But once in a while I wish they had really done what they set out to do and taken over THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD. You know why? Then EVERYBODY would bloody well have some idea of English.

Two days. Two bloody days before they get around to telling me oh, we DO so have wi-fi, what WERE you thinking of ha ha ha (tinkling laughter that makes me want to suture their tonsils to their earlobes), of COURSE you can have it but we will charge you approximately as much as Donald Trump pays for each of his divorces. So here I am, typing away at the keyboard so that I can get-connected-log-on-and-upload-mail like Speedy Gonzales hitting a line of willing chicas.

The first full day here was rather nice. A café in Ortakoy beside the Bosphorus, under a bridge that links two continents. Sun glinting bright on blue water, sailboats, villas, gay umbrellas, a band tuning up. Great ships steaming under the bridge, wind whipping the wave-caps white and mad, woods on the far shore alternately green and dark.

Sunday coffee. In Istanbul.

Then on to the Hagia Sofia and then the Topkapi Palace. Both are impressive, but we Indians are spoilt because we've already SEEN the biggest highest richest horriblest wonderfullest ad infinitum. Still and all, as they say in that neck o' the woods, pretty darn neat. Last night the youngest member of the delegation landed up and took us out to Reina, which is the most happening place in this city. Past Ortakoy, lights on the river, their own sexy mini-yacht that they use as a water-taxi, five restaurants around a cabana and a wooden dance floor, tres chic. So I sat there with my vodka tonic and checked out the antipasti, and I thought, it’s nice to be old so nobody pulls ME onto that floor. Drunk dancing is so wearisome.

An upgrade at the Hilton, so not only do I have a room with a glass wall facing the Bosphorus, I also have a nice wide verandah where I can sip my sundowner and draw on my cigarillo as the sun descends.

A weather-worn tanker lets out a low moan, sedately easing down the tide from the Black Sea to the eastern corner of the Mediterranean, the Sea of Marmara. My balcony faces east, but the room behind me is lit up second-hand with the mellow glow of a summer sunset as the sun reflects off the steel-and-glass façade of the Ritz Carlton across the park. Bloody monstrosity cuts off half my view of the Bosphorus.

Not that I have cause for complaint. A flotilla of peach and grey cloudlets sweeps south across an egg-shell sky. The horizon hills dip and rise behind the white and red-tile sprawl of the Asian half of Istanbul. That lies across the Bosphorus, whose unreal blue is now turning to grey as the shades of evening stretch across the water. From behind a white hotel an orange ship appears upon the blue, its wake a scar across the water. The sun settles lower behind me, miles of windows glint one last time before the lights come on. Far to my left, a span of the Bosphorus Bridge rises behind the mass of the Dolmabahce Palace. Near the water's edge a bus switches on its headlights as it swings around a bend in the road. Flycatchers flit across the growing gloaming, half a moon appears in the south, a seagull mews somewhere above me as it arcs towards the sea.

Half past eight, and Stamboul slips towards the night.


Phantasmagoria said...

Thank you for sharing old man. Lovely descriptions as always.

D said...

Wow! Please give me your job!

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hey, Stamboul sounds (and looks) wonderful. My knowledge is resticted to various Agatha Christie books set around that area. Thanks for the upgrade!

I also fully appreciate the relief that you feel to get out of youth's rat-race for dances, parties and the like. Middle age is the time to do your own thing (when your work lets you have your own time, though).

Partho said...

Now that's a real post. Refreshing whiff of the Mediterranean.
And yes, we want your job.

bsatyaki said...

you are loving the place...and it shows...for the lucky few it also wafts across on( or is it over ? ) the Mobile...

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Ph, my pleasure. Sorry if the drama quotient is a little low this time.

D, find another one for ME first.

Sucharita, I've crossed the line from middle age to senescence.

Partho, one lives for your approval.

bsatyaki, you lost me there.


Anindya said...

very innovative ad for the Hilton, I must say (Paris, here I cu..oops, come)....

good work, from our desi Graham Greene!