Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 09/1/12 12:23 PM

Travel: The Bosphorus, Turkey

Photo: Kalyani Kumar.

Photo: Sheila Kumar

Over the last four days, I have taken in all of Istanbul’s many delights. I have trawled its winding caddesis (streets), spent hours in its bazaars, eaten tonnes of kebabs, mezes and baklavas, downed many a glass of apple tea.

I went for a hamam session with some trepidation but thoroughly enjoyed it. I watched a dervish show with mixed feelings… should something so private be put on public display?

I had felt up many Turkish carpets; actually, I was now ready to buy the T-shirt that said: Been There, Done That.


Photo: Sheila Kumar

However, I would keep coming back to the bank of the Bosphorus.

The river exercised a strange fascination on me; strange because I have seen and appreciated the Thames, Seine, Tiber, Gauadalquivir, the Boyne and many other rivers of Europe, at different times over the years.

But this body of water, the world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation, is altogether something else.

Photo: Kalyani Kumar

Vital waters
The 31-km-long Bosphorus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. On its shores sits Istanbul, with its 11-million-and-counting inhabitants lucky enough to glimpse the river on their way to work, on their return from work, on their Sunday impromptu picnics in the riverside parks, on their evening strolls, from atop the Galata Tower.


Photo: Sheila Kumar.

Some days, the waters are choppy, steel gray and turbulent. At other times, they are a deep blue with the gentlest ripples disturbing the surface, and raucous seagulls wheeling above the surface.

And when I am back at the Eminonu docks, I treat myself to a fish sandwich and sit staring at the waters.

And I mentally make a promise that like Arnie Schwarzenegger, I’ll be back. That very evening, to see the blue waters lit up by the lights of Istanbul. I can’t help it. It’s the lure of the Bosphorus.

Photo: Sheila Kumar

Photo: Kalyani Kumar.

This ran in THE HINDU of 1 Sept 2012.

All photos by Sheila Kumar subject to copyright.

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Black SeaBosphorusBosphorus BridgeEminonuGalata TowerIstanbulSea of MarmaraTurkey

Sheila Kumar • September 1, 2012

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