Monday, March 24, 2014

Hemingway was here.

From the plane window, early that morning, I saw the Bosphorus for the first time. We flew over it, so low that I could see into the small fishing boats. People waking and taking care of their morning rituals. Small pots of water boiling... lanterns burning and mist on the water. Red tail lights streaming over the Galata Bridge.

Later that day, I had my first freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. And I wandered around ancient small streets, up and down.

Towards the end of September, 1922, the twenty-three-year-old Ernest Hemingway spent a month in Istanbul. He was there to write about the war, but his recollections of life in Beyoglu still ring eerily true. He was yet to write a novel.

We were staying at the Pera Palas, mere steps away from Hemingway's haunt - the Buyuk Londres.
Our burgundy clad doorman sniffed and pointed a white gloved finger in the opposite direction. He offered me an umbrella and wanted to know: But why, Bayan?

Posing as lovers looking for a place to stay, we convinced the moustachioed proprietor to take us up to a room - the one where the Golden Horn can be glimpsed through peach coloured lace curtains.

On each landing, there is an old painted metal trousseau chest. Downstairs we peeked into the Orient Bar, lush with bird cages and plants. Yes, Hemingway drank his whiskey there...

Istanbul, where a you can ask a rabbit to choose your fortune, where people still hang garlic over doorways to fend off evil, where the muezzin calls and everything stops.

I thought I would have been back there by now.

Tomorrow night my tall man leaves for a very long time. We both have mountains of work ahead of us. Call me a coward, but I just can't face taking him to the airport and coming back to the house alone. I'd rather stand at the gate and wave.


Marie said...

Shame, Lily x

And you make me long, verlang, for that place.

Did you ever hear the gas truck singing its gas song? Ay-gas.

Where did Hemingway write about Turkey? I have not read that.

the sourcerer said...

On the quay at Smyrna... he wrote articles for "Our Time"