Yes I understand that the title is an oxymoron; it’s intended for humor sake which you will understand later in this blog.
Taxim is the true city center of Istanbul, but filled with just too many tourists. I prefer the other areas of Sisli or Sinanpasa which have fewer tourists and far more interesting places.
I walked up and down the Main Street of Taxim and realized it looked like every other major city in the world, with the same designer stores and littered with Starbucks, and sadly too many American fast food restaurants. (This reminds me that I’ve been meaning to write another blog about the new age of American imperialism – but that’s for another day.)
After walking and sightseeing for 2 hours, desperately looking for a cafe to chill and just relax for a bit, at a cafe name that didn’t include American English letters, I finally randomly found my way down a side street and discovered a cool shisha cafe named Kulture Nargilel. It was a trendy cafe with lots of young people chilling and smoking shishas (hookahs) and drinking coffee. Nearly every other cafe was either empty or filled with tourists or just boring as shit. I ordered a coke and had a couple smokes and wrote my blog.
Earlier on Saturday, I had lunch with the innocent Turkish girl I had met a couple days earlier. The first day she said hello I never got her number. The next day, I’m randomly walking around the Sinanpasa district and accidentally saw her again at a bookstore. I said hello again and gave her a hug. She asked me “How can I contact you?” So I gave her my number and said we can be friends.
Well yesterday she texted me and said we should meet. So we agreed to meet for lunch. She was so adorable and innocent. She’s a 19 years old devout Muslim girl, but looked more European than Turkish. She refused to eat so I ate two Turkish lunches myself. She was so shy. She asked me if I was Muslim and I replied no. I discovered she is truly a really innocent girl! She doesn’t smoke or drink (never has) and she prays 5 times a day in the tradition of Islam. I told her I would like to learn more about the religion. And in turn I would teach her about Christianity, just for both of us to expand our minds and understanding of the world.
In any case, she is so innocent and sweet I think it would simply be wrong for me to corrupt her with my views and sense of morality. She can live life in her own way without conforming to mine, or western ideology. But she’s a sweet girl and no reason we can’t be friends.
After our meeting she sent me a text saying she felt guilty and she knew her mother and family would never approve of hanging out with a person like me (as if I’m soooo bad?). If anything, this is exactly the kind of self restraint that people constantly subject themselves to, that I speak of in my book. It doesn’t matter what people choose to believe in or have faith in, but when it limits our lives to only live in a greatly diminished way, it’s saddening.
I think it’s great for people to be open to all ideas, especially if they are diametrically opposed to our own beliefs. If we can’t at least listen with an open mind to any ideas or philosophies without bias, then we can hardly call ourselves intelligent or open-minded. Even radical Islam may be repulsive to many in the West, due to terrorism and media sensationalism, but I’ve come to discover that’s merely a small sliver of the true religion and the true people of Islam.
As I walked about I met the Communist party of Turkey members who were promoting their candidates for the election. I think it’s pretty funny, given that I’m about as far from communist ideology as anyone can get. Communism is a theoretically ideal system but has no possible chance of success in our real world given our human nature. And because it runs counter to who we are, it becomes a crushingly oppressive system to society. The Communist party folks wanted to give me one of their shirts! I said no thank you. The last thing I need is to be blacklisted as a communist party member by the CIA or FBI or Turkish government. LOL. There’s nothing wrong with youthful idealism.
After this encounter, I walked a bit and found a Turkish shoe shiner on a side street. I got a shoe shine for 5 lira or $2, by a man who appeared to have been doing this before mankind created written language. He was awesome and the 2nd best shine I’ve ever had, but for the price the best one ever. My shoes look awesome; better than when I bought them! Reminds me of the ZZ Top song “Sharp Dressed Man” which I sang last week because my friend was dressed in an impeccable suit. It was the first time ever singing the song but it’s just an awesome classic song. Gotta dig the long beards and guitars of the ZZ’s.
The photo below is just a random pic of a man with the world’s most over sized hat. Perhaps we should all be carrying these on our heads instead of my useless umbrella when it storms like God (or Mohamed) just got really pissed off at mankind.
And finally, I concluded my most annoying thing about Istanbul is the ridiculous obsession with selfie sticks. It’s pretty damn comical when a 70 year old man is shouting “SELFIE STICKS…SELFIE for sale” and half the damn country seems to be peddling these selfie sticks to tourists and locals. Even worse, people actually walking around with their smartphones attached to the end of a 3 foot selfie stick, looking “cool” and snapping selfies like they just invented the digital camera or color photos. #Selfie