Soul Food

Our first few nights in the new Kosuyolu apartment were interrupted by the frantic blowing of a whistle somewhere in the predawn hours. After the first night, I noticed a pattern to it, and realized that it was the Site Guvenlik making his rounds.
It kind of harkened me back to the history lessons of “old world village life”, when the night watchman would draw out, in a long and wailing tone….”It’s 4am and all is well”. Here in our corner of Asia, instead of singing it, they just blow the daylights out of a tin whistle. Its been a week now since we have made the move and I have acclimated to the new sights and sounds. Goofy? I know…but that tin whistle being blown every hour has endeared itself to me.

IMG_3428.JPG Soul Food

Being a guy of “simple mind”, I am always on the cusp of amazement. Yesterday was no exception. Our Sitesi has the usual mix of Euro-Istanbullus and Conservative Muslims. As I sit on my veranda the parade of people that passes by could be drawn from either “Vogue” or “Islam Weekly”. We see everything from chadors to Chanel, hijabs to halters, prayer caps to piercings, and all the flavors in between.
Yesterday our doorbell rang and looking out the peephole I saw a fully veiled neighbor who lives a few floors above. I called my wife to the door, and upon opening it she was handed a tray of food and an invitation to come visit. The food was delicious, but the experience of spending time with this woman was “food for the soul”.
For those of you who come from an Asian background this may seem like a common act…even a “duty”, and it may have been that, to some degree. But our neighbor’s smile, demeanor, and kindness, were unmistakably genuine. And, (you know where I’m going), I was reminded, yet again, that we are so fortunate to do this thing that we are doing; Living, Traveling, and Wandering on the Far Side of the World.

3 Comments so far

  1. Meral (unregistered) on August 15th, 2006 @ 8:27 am

    Offering food to the newcomers is a custom…For me a long forgotten custom. For so many years all my relation with my neighbours has been smiling politely when and if we see each other. Your writing reminds me of similar scenes that had happened long, long ago. So I’m kind of nostalgic now… But I’m not sure I’d like to have the same kind of relation that my grandma had with her neighbours, because it seems such relations belong to childhood charms of pleasure, amazement, feeling of safety and warmth.

  2. Beverly Hamel (unregistered) on August 19th, 2006 @ 5:58 am

    Hi my friend. I suppose you never knew that I once lived in a neighborhood that quickly filled up with those sweet faces of Cambodia. Those people sound like your people. Beverly

  3. Beverly Hamel (unregistered) on August 20th, 2006 @ 1:22 am

    OK! That does it. After re-reading your “Soul Food”, I’ve gotta check out a dictionary of the culinary sort for Istanbul. I wanna know what that is (or was-it’s gone now, I know) on the plate next to your laptop. It so looked like a pizza of sorts.
    Bringing dinner over is NEVER a chore. I love to meet people that way and to hear them say “Oh MAN! Gimme that recipe.”
    Gotta go now, take care and get your beauty sleep. BEV

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