A slow kind of alarm

I wasted another day not writing something few will read.


This was Taksim last midnight, a mass murderer ostensibly loose (if not far gone).

Left past the edifice are restaurants and cafes and dessert shops that are, for all and intents and purposes, gay-friendly. More than once over the years has a man from there followed me, following untimely eye contact, across the square (once thrice across, until I, sure of intent and persistence, turned expletive towards him.) The perils of traveling alone.

It struck me the other night while I ate kunefe uncomfortably, a popinjay inching his shoes left, right, back, forward, slowgramming his passing life on the cusp of my personal space, stealing my attention, that I would not advise ostentation in this neighbourhood at this particular time. Untoward elements know where to find.

I wish all my traveling in Turkey had led me to know what I don’t understand. But by force of slothfulness I overstand. I’ve stayed too long learning nothing.

I met a barista today from South Africa, he has no plans on learning Turkish.

I walked to Galata, one cafe, then another.

The second had a book menu with kahvalti (breakfast) all over it, which I was tempted to ask for, but it was 5pm. Under pressure for explanation I said “Ben açim” and the burly waiter standing over me left.

They brought soup, brown bread, cream, bulgur, and meat with vegetables. As I took çay news of another attack, this time in Izmir, three dead at least. People instantly messaged me. I paid. I dwelled. I waved bye to the staff. I walked past squads of Polis. Reinforcements arrived while I supped. A man bared his rifle in front of the Santa Maria Church’s gates.

I returned to my stained hotel. I got a call. I waited for two strangers at Starbucks. They were late. I got a brownie. They came and delivered a document from Syria. An armoured vehicle with a mounted water cannon passed. I walked back down istiklal. More men with guns. Men in plainclothes eyes agape black toques alert unconcealed. Squads sat in busses.

Another espresso and a glass of wine and then a milkshake. I made arrangements to deliver something else to someone else. I walked home. The deployed dispersed, the regular garrison now patrolled emptying streets. I got a kofte sandviç. A ragamuffin bumped into me. Pockets still full. A man tried to sell me something, a veiled woman bumped into him– he was loud about it — contrivance?  I took stock. No pickpockets. I learned nothing. I know nothing.



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