A friend took me to a tiny meyhane, a restaurant with a duo playing Turkish classical music, popular tunes everybody seems to know. The place was on a small street, just a turn away from the crowded İstiklal street. There was no sign on the street as there usually isn’t. We climbed up the stairs to the (if I remember right) fouth floor. Still no sign. Just a faint echo of music and people talking and laughing trickling from the door. Once the door opened it became clear that this was a very popular place indeed.
I really enjoyed evening and the welcoming atmosphere. Listen to the lively soundscape:
Balat, Thursday 8 April
The World Roma Day festivities have started at the shore of the Golden Horn (Haliç) strait. Listen to the recording:
The echoing ezan faintly heard in the begining of the recording made the festival pause for a few minutes. But soon the voices of the müezzins are no longer heard and the soundsystem is switched on.
The Çanakkale Lapseki Roman orchestra is warming up and doing soundcheck. The clarinetist Hüsnü Şenlendirici stolls on the stage and soon the air fills with the sound of Roma music. The evening continues with more and more performers, and the people are dancing and enjoying themseves despite the cooling evening weather. Compelled to leave the spot due to not just high but ear piercing decibel levels I fled to a cafe near by and enjoyed the music through the walls.
The announcer thanked the local MP and city authority for organizing the event. Unfortunately the city authorities will also bulldoze and rebuilt the Balat and neighboring Fener districts in very near future as they are to attract more tourists to the detriment of local residents. These kind of gentrification projects are familiar to the former Sulukule residents as well. A Roma neighbourhood like Balat, that too.
It’s a market day (pazar) at Çengelköy, a sunny Spring day. The stalls on the street, covered lightly, have put their produce beautifully on show. Spinach, carrots, cheese, cabbage, artichokes, bananas, lettuce, garlic, mushrooms, aubergines, tomatoes… and çağla, delicious and sour small green raw apricots [edit: not apricots! silly me… raw almonds]. The colours themselves are bright and fresh enough to eat! People are walking up and down the street. Two young girls have stopped to watch into the two card board boxes, with chicks cheeping inside.
Hear the chicks. You’ll also hear the salesman shouting ‘Taze günlük, taze günlük yumurtalar çiftlikten!’ (Fresh daily, fresh daily eggs from the farm!)
Eminönü ferry pier, 6 pm, Tuesday.
People have done their work for the day and are running to catch the ferry to the Asian side, Kadıköy.
Meriç Öner writes about Akbil (the ‘smart ticket’, a small keychain-like magnet that can be used to pay trip fares at ferries, buses, metros, trains, the ‘tünel’, funicular, tram, you name it, in Istanbul) in the book İstanbullaşmak (eds. Derviş, Tanju, Tanyeli: Garanti Galeri 2009) that there are all kind of things one can know about the one using the akbil by listening to the electronic notes it plays when used. The A – E interwal (‘first trip of the day’), the B – A sharp – B – C sharp (‘s/he is a transfer passanger), the B – E – A sharp – B – E – A sharp (‘damn! Must get in the line… my akbil has dried out’).
All this akbil powered human traffic turns the piers and stops into places of electric symphonies. But Öner points out that the most intimiating sound of akbil is the silence when one searches for the pockets of ones bag and just doesn’t… now where is it!!??
This crowded high street of Beyoglu is for pedestrians only excluding the tram leading from Taksim Square to Tünel Square. The nostalgic tram was revived in late 80’s. It rides pretty slow, so there is plenty of time to listen to the soundscape from the open window of the rear platform. The hum of the voices, shouts of the merchants and the shop loudspeakers are accompanied by the drivers’ hand-operated bell intended to warn the tourists and the local pedestrians.