NationalGeographic.com [an error occurred while processing this directive]


 

  Field Notes From
Istanbul on Edge



<< Back to Feature Page



On Assignment
Arrows
View Field Notes
From Author

Rick Gore



On Assignment

View Field Notes
From Photographer

Alex Webb



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Todd James (top), and Bert Fox
 

On Assignment On Assignment On Assignment
Istanbul on Edge

Field Notes From Author
Rick Gore
Best Worst Quirkiest

Crossing the Bosporus on one of the bustling ferries between Asia and Europe mesmerized me. Istanbul spread out before me: its mosques, its high-rises, its 19th-century Ottoman palaces. The light continuously changed, painting the mosques and the clay-tiled roofs in shades ranging from drab to glorious. Suddenly a great supertanker, its rust-colored hull glowing in late light, plowed past me. Behind it a couple of small fishing boats trawled. The many faces of the city crowded me on the decks as people hustled back and forth between continents, between lives both grand and impoverished. But no matter how frantic their lives, they breathe and relax. The journey forces them to slow down—if only for ten minutes. As a friend said, “It is like a great river—only it’s the sea.”



Abuse of the helpless is common in Istanbul. Stray dogs are hunted and eradicated. Minorities are often treated brutally. Although new laws and government programs have gotten most kids off the streets, groups of young boys addicted to sniffing glue or paint thinner still cluster near the nightlife centers of the city. They huddle on street corners, clutching white handkerchiefs drenched in thinner. Often their arms are ravaged with scars from self-inflicted wounds, done to prove they can endure pain.



Istanbul is crawling with stray dogs, and a big program exists to deal with them. Traditionally dogs are disliked in Turkey. One dog gets special treatment, however. He showed up one day at the Marmara Hotel in the center of Istanbul. He just sat there looking dolefully at the doorman, and he wouldn’t go away. So the doorman convinced the hotel chef to give him leftovers for the dog, who he calls Rin Tin Tin. Now the dog never leaves the entrance. Some even joke that he’s become a doorman himself. A wealthy woman named Sylvia heard about the dog and, being an ardent animal lover, decided to coax the chef into giving her more leftovers for other strays in the city. She drives up every day in a fancy car to pick up the food to distribute. Meanwhile, Rin Tin Tin watches the crowds go by, sleeping on the cold marble pavement much of the day and occasionally barking fiercely at passersby whom he takes a dislike to.





© 2002 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy       Advertising Opportunities       Masthead

National Geographic Magazine Home Contact Us Forums Shop Subscribe