Morning breaks over Istanbul. The glare of the silver waters momentarily blinds me, as I step out onto my sixth floor 'balcony with a view.' I treasure the silence in my heart, reflected in the waters of the Bosphorus, and turn to my left. The skyline of the business sector, with its high rise buildings speaks to me of people arriving breathless, phones piercing the stillness and paperwork piling up on desks.
Further to the right, almost a breath away, a bridge carries its human cargo across the waters, linking two continents. Majestic mountains reach up to the sky in the distance; patches of greenery lend a magical feeling of nature in all its glory, and ships just below, streamline the waters, leaving a white trail behind them. I close my eyes.
Amidst the noise of construction and the occasional wail of a siren, I can hear the sound of seagulls crying out and every now and then a human voice. I open my eyes and allow them to rest gently on the scene below. A parking lot, home to a number of police vans and numerous young men sitting in the shade, walking determinedly about with cell phones and guns, their blue uniforms pristine, gazes up at me. These same policemen have been on duty morning and night. They have stood in the shade watching and waiting for something to disturb the peace, smiled obligingly at tourists wanting to pose beside them, and looked warily on as I have passed them on my walks around Taksim Square.
On one particular morning I have spotted them in a posse, with shields in front of them. A poignant song blaring out brought a group of sitters into view, huddled in small groups looking at pictures of young men haloed in white flowers. For a moment that stretched out into eternity, I stood at the crossroads, wondering what motivates a boot to hit a huddled body on the pavement. I wondered if at some unseen level, a soul silently looked on, as boots thud into soft flesh. I reflected on martyrdom and the call for deep reflection as untamed rage flows unchecked, blinding the senses. That morning, my heart beat in unison with the heart of a policeman on duty, and people gathered in groups, mourning. My heart beat in unison with a seagull swooping down in search for food and I could not do anything at all, but wonder at the duality in which we strive to find answers to our very existence.
As I make my way down to the square for my morning walk, I pass Gezi Park and then the Opera house, where the face of Ataturk looks up at the azure sky. It is another warm day in Istanbul that slowly begins to awaken from a long night's sleep. Vendors pull their carts filled with the traditional semit, a round circle of soft or hard, freshly baked bread. A group of tourists amble down towards the square, where the army, police and citizen wait to celebrate this day of independence. I stroll past, gazing at the perfectly shaped pastries and sweet puddings in nearby shop windows. I can feel this extraordinary city in my veins. I can sense the hubbub of the past - a long past of Ottoman Empires and Byzantium glory reaching out to demarcate the history of this place that has touched my heart.
I think about the past and wonder briefly about the future. Then I settle very calmly into present time. I feel my heart quicken as I realize that the only chance we have as a human race, is to come together in harmony, reflecting on the debris we hold in our hearts. I wonder truly if in this reflection, a boot would remain in integrity on the ground, and a body would no longer cower in fear but quietly acknowledge boundaries. I know that I am asking for much, but in gratitude for this city that has afforded me a home for a short while, I smile gently and hope I can touch the soul of this country softly, quickening its vibrant energy, as I shower imaginary rose petals over Taksim Square and Gezi Park.