The sleek yachts lined up along the Bosphorus remind me that Turkey is flush with enough millionaires to park them here. As I walk along, I see a café and am served coffee and rice pudding with grace and politeness of those who have served tourists for generations.
The Adhann is called from the 18th century mosque and I rush up the stairs to pray Asr. The pale aqua interior of the mosque reflects its location as the windows frame the lapping waves of the Bosphorus. There is a generous musallah upstairs for women.
After prayers the stroll along the Bosphorus on the European side continues, the beautifully engraved and finely crafted ottoman mansions rise to look at the Bosphorus with the seasoned eye of a dowager, who has been there, done that and is “not amused”
Skinny women jogging, fishermen with their buckets of sardines, a family eating a snack out of the back of an SUV reminds me of tailgating. No families and no romantic couples crowd the marine drive like the one on the Asian side. The flavor of the people here is completely different. Ads for Italian hosiery for women with long legs is right next to a Maserati SUV ad, satisfying the masculine and the feminine.
No vendors selling simit or coffee like the eastern side. And a remarkable lack of seagulls.
Then I see them or rather I hear them first. The melodious baritone crooning a Turkish love song fills the evening air with nostalgic melancholy of romance past.
As I approach the musician quartet, I realize with a start that all of them including the one on the keys are blind. Behind them stands a man who I later asked through my Google translator, how he was related to the singers and he said “ a special uncle” The mans song ends, and he pulls out a cigarette to smoke.
I walk a bit and then the air fills with Istanbul’s favorite love song…”Cok sukur” and I am rooted to the spot. I slowly turn around and walk back, it is a young girl singing the song more beautifully than the original singer of the song.’
I sit down to listen filled with gratitude for feeling the breeze of the Bosphorus, listening to the lilting voice of this young blind girl with a golden voice singing Istanbul’s love song, marveling at her ability despite her lack of vision.
I bow my head in gratitude.
I thank Allah for giving me sight and hearing, and for the opportunity of admitting me to a free concert by the Bosporus with the Andrea Bocelli of Istanbul.