On the bus from Taksim towards Ataturk airport I watched a seaplane take off from the golden horn as sun backlit the pillars of the Valens Aqueduct. In an underground bus stop further on there were 1000’s of bicycles hanging from the ceiling for sale. Two boys practiced flipping a water bottle, one third full, to land upright on various surfaces while they waited for a different bus. I was first on mine, window seat, and the middle-aged man in the aisle slept, releasing both of us from the duty to give ours up to an elderly. In Turkey this is otherwise strictly enforced.

One man I saw on one sidewalk was selling four lighters, a sleeve of biscuits, three boxes of toothpaste, and a nazar boncuğu, organised on a square towel. No one looked at him as they passed and the sidewalk wasn’t well pedestrianised.  Still, the vulturenosed man in the puffy black jacket checked his back jeans pocket to make sure his wallet was still there. Nearby cafes had 1453 in their name to mark the fall of Constantinople, then the bus passed perfunctory through that city’s walls.

As we found ourself parallel with the metrobus line a wailing ambulance passed us, took to the curb, then waded into sludge parting traffic.

I arrived. It was the first time I came to my friend’s house and his wife prepared a surplus of food.

At one point in the evening he said:

“Now in Syria there is no meaning of ‘human beings.’ The stone has more value than the human.”

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