August 18, 2022

By Ahmet Abdulaziz…..

Last weekend, I was in Istanbul. I had been there for personal work that was required to be done on Friday, so I decided to be there on Saturday and Sunday too.

As was my routine on previous occasions, I took the last flight to Sabiha Gökçen airport in Istanbul, so that I could reach the office where I had had to submit the papers, early on Friday morning. My flight landed at around 11.00 pm. I then took the regular bus service from Sabiha Gökçen airport to Kadiköy, which is the end of the Asian part of Istanbul. From there I took the last ferry boat to reach Karaköy on the western (European) side. It was way past midnight when I reached Karaköy.

Since I had been to Istanbul previously, I walked all the way from Karaköy to Sirkeci, where I usually stay in a hotel, after crossing the Galata bridge and walking through the Eminönü area, by the sea. To my great astonishment, when I reached the hotel where I always stay, inside the Sirkeci area, the hotel was closed with a notice that it was closed for repair and maintenance. I was shocked. It was around 1.00 am, and I had to find an affordable hotel. The first hotel that I visited, was full and so was the second and third hotel so I made a decision to go for an adventure that night.

I decided to spend the night at Eminönü, by the sea. I had been there before and there were many long granite benches next to the sea. So I decided to spend the night there and when I reached the place there were still some people there. Some were sitting on the benches, some were roaming around and there were two small bufes open. For me, it was a suitable place to spend the night, under the moon, by the sea. I sat there for a short period of time, and I saw people leaving the place. It was still 1.30 am, and there were only three people still there. Myself, and another person, sitting on another bench, and one young fellow, sitting at the nearest point to the sea, talking to someone on video call on his mobile phone. One of the bufe had already closed, and there was only one person left to run the cafe.

At that time, I started to think of the possibility of my adventure becoming a nightmare. I thought if the bufe closed, and the other two people leave for home, what would I do all alone sitting on the bench by the sea. The old news items came back to me about the “Tinerci” boys, who forcibly extracted money from people, by threatening them with a knife, so they could buy their drugs. I started thinking of my ultimate response, and my defense plan if someone would approach me with such designs.

But that was not the only danger, that had started haunting me. The police might come and ask me what I was doing there, and why did I not go to the hotel. Would they book me and lock me up? My mind had started writing scripts for all sorts of horror films and nightmares.

I thought that it might be better for me to go up to the Galata bridge where there were still some people busy fishing. As I walked across the bridge, I found that most of the people had already left, and a few who were still there at about 2.00 am were packing up. So I returned back to the place where I was before, on the bench near the bufe, which was still open. The young guy who was speaking on his mobile earlier was already gone.

There still remained only one person roaming around, and the bufe that was still open so I decided to buy a cup of tea. The weather had started becoming cooler. There were two locked ferry boats moored nearby. . The overall picture of dark night and dark sea waves, with two ferry boats moored just next to me, with no lights, had started to become a terrible scene for me, along with the other chances of being robbed or attacked or the police interrogation.

While buying tea from the bufe, I wanted to ask the guy there, if the bufe would remain open till morning but did not. I was afraid not wanting to hear a “no” reply from him. That bufe was going to be my only ray of hope and support, to take me through that overwhelming dark night, by the sea.

It was already 3.00 am, when. I had started feeling cold. The granite seat was not too cold, but I had started thinking that the cold night and the granite bench may trigger my sciatica and back problems. The other guy, sitting on another bench at a distance had taken out a pullover and covered himself to reduce the impact of the cool breeze. But I did not have anything else with long sleeves or thick with me. I was just having the one short-sleeved teeshirt that I was wearing and one more like it in the small bag that I was carrying.

The weather had become quite cold, and I had started walking around, to keep warm and to avoid the cold. I was trying to prepare myself with a reasonable answer that I would give if that man in the bufe asked me why I was there. The more I tried to find some reasonable answer the more I was finding every answer to be hollow and of no value.

The Municipality washing truck arrived at about 3.30 am, and with a large hose pipe, they started washing the whole area. The other person and I both had to leave the place. We both moved away in different directions, but never far enough to be out of sight of the bufe, which was still open. It took about an hour for the municipality people to wash and clean the whole area. We both then returned to our respective benches, but it was much more difficult to sit on the benches anymore. The cool breeze blowing from the sea, and the wet floor had increased the impact of coolness. I had no other choice but to keep on roaming around and I had started feeling tired and sleepy. Unfortunately, in those circumstances, I was not in a position to afford the luxury of sleeping on the bench.

It was still dark, and the time was about 4.00 am, the bufe was still open. The bufe was my only hope of survival, at that time of night. All of a sudden, I heard the shrieks of car brakes. A car had stopped, nearby. A woman came out of it, shouting. A man too came out shouting at her. They both came near to the sea and started arguing loudly. Listening to what they were arguing about, I realised that they were husband and wife, and were trying to sort out some family problem. Of course, they were not in a position to argue out loud with their children sleeping at home. So, they had found the seaside area of Eminonu ideal for that. For me, it was the best thing that could happen to me as the feeling of loneliness had reduced

With the husband and wife being there, the whole fear went away and I found myself relaxed, as I was then out of loneliness, and all scenarios of a nightmare that my mind was thrusting me into, were gone. They remained there for around half an hour. During this time, they sorted out their differences amicably, bought their coffees from the bufe, sat on the bench, talking and laughing.

The time then was about 5.00 am and I could see the first rays of sun emerging from the foremost end of the Bosphorus. The bufe was still open and the husband and wife had left the place, hand in hand, in a happy mood. So it was the happy end of the story, for all three of us. They had returned back to their home, in a happy mood. I was happy that I had finished my night-long adventure, by the sea, without it being turned a nightmare.

That was the time, at around 5.00 am, when I returned back to my senses to take some beautiful photos of the Bosphorus, which I am attaching here. and I wish I had taken more photos of the events that I witnessed, throughout the whole night.

 

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