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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pictureless Istanbul

Palace Hatice Sultan, Melling

There is a certain charm walking a place without a camera but I realised I went too far in perceiving a city landscape through the lenses so I often mentally framed certain images. As I have forgotten the cable to download pictures from my brain to the computer (I guess this will also come one day) I will have to rely on words which can also convey smells and Istanbul is a lot about smells. So here is my Istanbul from the past week:

- the mussel sellers and the nice spicy filling, only 50 kurus;
- the washed streets of Sultanahmed neighbourhood in the morning, water evaporating under the sun;
- the intense dark blue sky over Galata tower as you descent to Galata bridge at dusk;
- the cats in Cihangir;
- the ice cream sellers turning it and battering it with a happy face awaiting admiration;
- the grilled corn filled air;
- the happy bustling crowd around Taxim;
- the cheap sad grey pants in the underground passages totally contrasting the city's bright colours;
- Ayran, ayran, ayran;
- the hanging crescent moon over the roofs;
- the jetons for trams, boats and underground;
- the daunting ferries at Kabatas and the powerful trace they leave behind;
- the charming crumbling villa of Black Sea Commission in Dolmabahce Palace;
- the ladies peeking from the windows in Phener;
- the Bulgarian metal church in Phener, made in Vienna;
- the small car repair shops in Phener;
- Dolmabahce and Arnavutkoy seen from a boat at sunset;
- the new fashion for kids toys - devil's horns; angel's feathers; shining electric glasses; flying shining loops; plastic nose and fake mustaches;
- the snaking Bosphorus as one lands from Ankara;
- the ships waiting to cross the strait;
- the crumbling paint of old Ottoman mansions and houses;

And....the seagulls laughing at all that! God bless this city and its people!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is there life after the World Cup?

I am suffering from post-football blues.

Today felt so empty. There was no more anticipation of the next match and no more excuses for slacking on work, or house work, or blogging. All this time to fill and all you feel is one big "blah" of anticlimax. Whence the adrenalin of near-misses, squandered lifetime chances or impossible goals? The camaraderie, shared joy of winning, and friendly rivalries to add the element of tension? All gone, and 2012 seems so far.

This was one of the most fun football tournaments for me, and that means since Italy 1990, as that one was the first I followed. I watched more games in 2002 than now, but I didn't support any particular team so I wasn't so invested. I was very much into Euro 2000, watching all the games in favorite pubs and restaurants of my university town. I remember the sweltering heat in Blagoevgrad, eating from plastic plates and with plastic cutlery because of water rationing, and my tears as the Dutch sent us packing 6:1, while friendly strangers tried to comfort me and my roommate Marija (even more tears). It took me ten years to finally warm up to the orange team again, which is no mean feat (forgiving is one thing, forgetting another--just for the record).

After that, my interest in the tournament understandably trailed off, although Marija and I did manage to wake up for the final and drag ourselves to a pub to watch it, only to be awarded with the most boring match in the history of football (that's Italy:France for the uninitiated). We were rooting for the penalties to get at least some particle of excitement in that ocean of boredom but in the end France managed to squeeze a win. Yuk.

But back to the blues--what to do? I think a change of scenery would help, especially if it involves a sea coast, lots of lying about, a book in hand, and an ample supply of cocktails. Oh, I'll be stuck in Budapest's oppressive heat all right, and with a million things to do for at least two more weeks, but there has been talk of Greek islands and Bulgarian mountains so I have hope. Plus, I finally have a DSLR (and I didn't even have to sell an internal organ--easy peasy!) and one should never underestimate the power of a new toy to cure vague and melancholic conditions of the spirit. Exit ennui, enter Lightroom...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Have we eaten on the insane root that takes the reason prisoner?*

The Octopus got it right and Netherlands and Spain made it to the final. Today this same Octopus sent me the video of the upcoming match which I would like to share with you.

Here one of the Dutch strikers is warming up ambitiously. Look at his pace and determination. His will is bigger than his abilities.

The Netherlands is attacking vigorously while Spain is playing with flowers. Spain is contemplating a secret move. It is a pacifist approach,a David against Goliath situation. Let them attack as much as they want, I am doing my ikebana.

Obviously things got out of control and Spain had to resort to the local witch. The witch is brewing old football shoes and Spain has to drink the potion if they want to have a chance - an undeserved penalty, an unmarked offside, at least something. Pleaaaase! The only problem: the witch is Dutch.

Both teams are in a stalemate. The result is 0-0 for the last five years. The game is stuck. The teams' official masseurs summoned the services of the local shaman who called the God of football. He is a cross between the right foot of Pele, Maradona's hand and Puyol's head. The God of football is huge and only his legs are as high as the new clock in Mecca.

After he is gone, Spain took the initiative and continued playing with hands. It is not in the rules but many things were not in the rules and FIFA accepted them. The video replay is not allowed, the whole world saw it but the referee - didn't. Never mind, who cares - hand or foot?

Spain is sad. Did they concede a goal or are the flowers to blame? Maybe the bouquet didn't turn out as it should have.

The Netherlands is frustrated. They took the ball and dashed to the local witch as well....

* Macbeth, Shakespeare