I could write about going to get my residence permit last week, or the rooftop fish barbecue at my building or a dozen other things, but I’m feeling a little lazy today so I will just tell you what I see in front of me.
I’m sitting in “my” café, on the wide pedestrian boulevard leading to the Grand Bazaar. Lots of people are walking down the gentle slope that leads to the bazaar. They come in mobs and in trickles. The men who work in the carpet shops stand outside, some carrying their small glasses and saucers of tea, many of them smoking. Some of them sit at the tables around me. They watch what I watch, the people walking by.
I’ve noticed that the larger the group of people, the slower it moves. A family of three, all large, tall, pale, mother and father holding the hands of the daughter between them, moves much more quickly than the group of eight Japanese women who stop and start and seem to move back and forth as much as forward.
Men in suits travel in pairs, walking quickly, talking seriously. A man with two trays of food passes, it must be lunchtime. Two Turkish women walk quickly uphill, arm in arm.
A tour leader walks past, carrying her round paddle with its green and white insignia. She is followed by 30 people. Their heads swivel from side to side as they walk in pairs and threes behind their leader. Gray ladies in twos, a mother and daughter, retired couples.
I’m surprised at the number of large video cameras I see. Do people ever watch these movies they hang from their necks?
A father walks past, towed by his dark haired son. The mother follows behind, tugging their fair-haired daughter with her curly-frizzy braids. The little girl walks sideways in her mother’s wake arms stretched wide by the pull of her mother and the desire to linger and look.
As lunchtime approaches the crowds thin, the carpet shop men condense in the center of the walkway. Some of them look at me surreptitiously, curious about what I’m writing and how I can do it while I look around. I know, because one by one over the weeks they have asked me what I’m doing, what I’m writing, why they see me here everyday watching and typing.
An elderly man walks past pulling a big hand truck loaded with enormous boxes. He walks briskly, pushed down the hill by his load, smiling broadly, showing his missing front teeth and talking happily to the man walking beside him.
After a brief lunchtime lull, the crowds thicken again, the voices multiply, and the parade continues.