So we live 3 stops from the end of the metrobus line Cumhuriyet Mahallesi (Cumhuriyet means republic I see this word all the time- I’m learning!). We are so far into the European side to be ignorant of the Asian sides existence. I am ashamed to say it, but after living here for over a month I have not yet crossed over to the other side. This city got me lazy. It is so far out to go out into Taxim and get pissed with all of the other teachers revelling at the prospect of two days free of howling, snotty, flu ridden children, that by the time we get there we have lost all motivation and the pre- drinks have been metrobussed out of us (if you ever have to spend an hour on the metrobus in one sitting you will understand what I mean). Apparently an hour is nothing in Istanbul traveling time, tell that to this small Island girl who is not used to spending the whole of said traveling time standing up. Not on it.
What is there to this place? On the boarder of Beylikduzu and Esenyurt this place is a concrete jungle within a rapidly developing concrete jungle. As far as the eyes can see the skyline (as viewed from the eighth floor) is filled with cranes, bricks and mortar. All of this development going on so rapidly one minute its there, next minute its a sparkling new apartment complex. New housing in a city that just on face value, seems well overpopulated and continually growing. But what do I know I am merely basing this on face value (face value being the public transport, squashed would be an understatement). Where I live is grey almost to the point of being dire.
Yes we live in a lovely apartment block with all mod cons and the sparkling artificial lights that adorn the night sky from our bedroom window are more than a bit fancy, but this area is seriously lacking natural beauty. Its all been or is being built on. I like grass and trees and all I can see is apshalt, metal rods, and uneven broken pavements. Where has the character gone?
Me and my partner in crime set off to find out. Our mission? To the seaside! For, if we cant have green, then what better in such a maddening crowd than the gentle sound of the sea hitting concrete to find ones zen.
We know Belylikduzu has a coast, its just getting to finding it. On Birthday eve, we decided to do just that. A midday walk the otherside of the E5 on a quest to find our silver lining. We walked and then we walked and then we walked some more. Into what seemed like the middle of nowhere, the sea an optical illusion, so close you could almost touch it, whilst being so far as to be miles out of reach.
But on we went, with our goal in sight we battled on. Four hours, large barking dogs later on a lonely dusty road, barren farmland with the prospect of an imminent sunset bringing forth images of the various horror films that have skewed my perception of such things (seriously whenever we go for country walks and come across a lone dwelling I feel the urgent need to get out of there quick before I am impaled with a metal rod and turned into a wax work- overactive imagination).
On the way home we stumbled across a random market in an area of abodes slap bang in the middle of emptiness. Looking back, I wish we captured it on camera, but alas as always with these things the moment passed, with the burning in our soles greater than the desire to record the memory forever. In the end we got one of those random little buses (I’m confused as to whether its a Dolmus I’d been calling it that until I got into a shared Taxi with the word Dolmus clearly written at the top) which took us to Hadimkoy metrobus station to make our way home (of course we had to first get the bus in the wrong direction, the icing to fill the cracks in our desperate sunken cake).
The next weekend we resumed the mission, using the metrobus to take us to the last stop, Beylikduzu son Durak, spying the sea from there after going the wrong way home last weekend we assumed fate wanted to go easy on our soles. Lo and behold a fabulous view and a promising start.
This time round it took us a record 10 minutes to figure out that again we were miles away from anything that resembled the sea. And so gave up. Disheartened. Local soulless shopping mall it is.
Is the only escape from our concrete prison an hours metrobus ride away? Of course not, but you have those days when you feel like this is shit and you want to go home to your own personal familiar concrete jungle.
This passes and so does the feeling of loathing for ones surroundings that comes part and parcel of up and leaving everything loved and worn in. We have yet to wear in this place, although we have our shoes from our failed exploration attempts. It will take a few more to get there, and from what initially felt like a couple of wasted weekends, we learnt something new about this place, a miniscule part of the vast grey surface scraped away to reveal hidden gems. Istanbul is no Adrianna Lima. It’s when you stop looking for the aesthetic beauty when the true inner beauty of this place shines out. Little by little. It is always the little things that are always overlooked, but are actually the most important.
And theres always the sea. Until next weekend….