Friday, March 15, 2013

Interactions with Istanbulites

          Well I am pretty much over my jetlag and finally have been able to get some work done when I am not hanging out with friends and reaccounting adventures. I understand that I am in school to study and should be working hard to end my senior year well, but honestly, at this point I just want to hang out with people as much as possible because I only have six weeks left to do so! And the papers will somehow be written and I will still probably get a good grade, despite the last minute work. Professors will understand, right?
           Anyways, I wanted to spend a little time sharing about some of the interactions and conversations I had with Istanbulites. The following is part of my journal entry from Thursday:

          "So today was a really good day here in Istanbul. This morning I stayed in bed until I actually wanted to get up, which was around nine. After breakfast I headed out by myself to sketch the Hagia Sophia. So I really have never sketched before, but somehow I knew I would be able to draw mosques without ever having lesssons. Tuesday when I was sketching, several people came up to me. One Turkish couple watch with their son for a while and told me it was very good. I replied 'grazie,' which is very odd since I definately do not speak Italian. A couple of teenage girls then came up to interview me for a school project. They were really cute and fun to talk to. Finally, two people came up (only the girl spoke any English) and it turns out that the guy (a Kurd) was in fine arts school in Istanbul. He showed  me some of his sketches, then his paintings via pictures on his camera. He then sketched me and gave it to me! The girl and I chatted for a bit while he sketched. It was interesting because she introduced herself as a Turk and the guy as a Kurd, but at the end of the conversation she revealed to me that she was actually a gypsy!
          Well, back to taody. Today while I was sketching, I first had "Antonio" come clean my shoes (that in reality really needed it). He was super cheesy calling me beautiful, but I tried to learn more of his story. I learned that he shined shoes to help pay for University where he was studying mathematics. He said he wanted to take me out for coffee later, but you know I am not really into cheesy Turkish shoe shiners :) The next people to come up to me were tourists wanting their picture taken. After that, a Turkish sketch artist (doing sketches for tourists) approached me. He seemed impressed and gave me a little advice. The other people to come around were a bunch of Turkish school girls. They were so cute and loved watching me draw. They figured out how to ask my name and then told me all of theirs. They then all said 'bye-bye' as they walked away with their class.
          When I walked back to the hostel, I found Ruth sitting outside. I sat down with her and one of the workers of the restaurant connected to our hostel came over and talked a bit. I have to say that I have been trying to get to know people while here and have been wanting to know people's stories- how they got to Istanbul and what life is like for them. This guy (Enes, who actually would become a friend and someone I hope to stay in touch with) is actually from Kurdistan and lived in Diyarbikir! We had a good conversation and I learned some about his life. 
          Then, Ruth and I went to lunch. On the way we were stopped by a guy selling Bosphorus Cruises. Only, he did not want to sell us anything, but had seen me sketching earlier and wanted me to sketch him! I told him that I wasn't very good and had never sketched people before, but he wanted it done anyway. I told him I would be back after lunch. Ruth and I then ate in a little cafe then bought some earrings. As Ruth was making decisions, I had a little chat with the store owner. Even though he spoke very little English, I learned he had owned the shop for over 30 years! He also wanted to know if my mom was rich.... I told him she wasn't. 
          We then headed back over to the guy. He was really surprised we had come back, but was happy to see us. We went to a little park across the street where we sat down on the grass. It was really fun. I have drawn anyone before and he had never been drawn. Which meant that we ended up laughing and it took a little while to be serious. He told us a bit about his job and life in Istanbul. One part of the conversation I really like was when he said he knew we were smart because we sere traveling. So many people never lear their little parts of the world and thus don not truly experience all of life. I fully agreed (as would EMU). The sketch was not great (I made him appear fairly old and kind of like Antonio Banderas) but we laughed about it and he seemed happy. 

          I loved how sketching brought about unique interactions and allowed me to be seen not as a tourist, but as an artist, which was really cool. Although not all interactions in Istanbul were as pleasant as the ones I wrote about above, it felt really good to try to get past being a tourist and learn something about how life is in the city.  

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