I’ve decided that I highly recommend seeing a strange city through the prism of something like a film festival when you first arrive. You can begin to contend with it then.
It was because of the film festival that I didn’t find it strange when a beautiful woman drinking coffee from a disposable cup parked it next to me on a bench and said, “You are not Turkish. Can I ask where you’re really from?” I half expected it to be another trick of the sort they pull on tourists and other strangers, but she was just bored, and wanted to chat. Much like the people who came to the screenings of “Katya, Vitya, Dima,” she complained about the harshness of life in the city and the harshness of life in general. She did it in such a way that it made me want to solve all socio-economic and political problems for her. We stared at the water for a long time – her sipping her coffee, me tanning my legs. She complimented the legs and then went on her way. And then Alexey came and took me by the hand and lead me to eat fish in Karaköy.
Also, it was in this town that I remembered how much one just needs to be alone in a bath every once in a while. And when I say “alone,” I really mean “with John Fowles.”