So, my country seems hellbent on starting WWIII while I’m here.
I am having a hard time sleeping here. It’s such a noisy city. I couldn’t sleep until dawn, then I was jolted awake by the nearest imam broadcasting the call to prayer from a loudspeaker.
Then I hear about the missile strikes in Syria. The Syrian situation in Istanbul is weird. There are hundreds of thousands of Syrians just in Istanbul and millions in Turkey.
I’ve heard a mix of pity and disdain towards them from a lot of Turks. It could be because people are speaking English as a second language and lack nuance, but I pick up on a lot of xenophobia. I’ve set off metal detectors and have been waived through, but the people who do get frisked tend to look more like Arabs.
We were near the water and a few boys threw bottles at a departing ferry. I heard at least four people mutter something about Syrians (the kids were speaking Arabic.)
You also see a lot more people panhandling. I remember when my husband was still new to San Francisco and was shocked to see homeless women and elderly people. Now there are a lot in Istanbul.
He’s also surprised by how much more covered women are. Niqabs used to be rare, but now we even saw some in his old university (in which hijabs were even banned when he was younger.)
There’s going to be a referendum regarding doing away with the prime minister position and moving towards a more presidential system (thus concentrating more power in Erdogan’s hands.)
It’s an interesting time to be here.