The City of the World’s Desire

Let’s just say that İstanbul is more than three times as populous as the entire nation of Bulgaria. Sixteen million people; that’s like the size of Bombay. It’s a hectic place. Also the most important city in the western world for about a thousand years, although I know shamefully little about that stretch of history. Ruins from all sorts of different empires. You sort of take Rome and Bombay and squish them together and squint real real hard, and presto! İstanbul.

We busted out of Thrace towards the City of the World’s Desire on a deluxe intra-city Turkish bus, complete with bowtied attendant who periodically walked the aisle sprinkling a refreshing rosewaterish concoction on everyone’s hands, which apparently is de rigeur on these long-haul treks. They were playing Barbershop 2: Back in Business on the TV screens, dubbed, naturally, into Turkish. The voiceover on Queen Latifah was particularly convincing.

I’m not so crazy about İstanbul. It’s too busy and combative, and too squarely on the international tourist circuit for my taste. We sightsaw this morning, and I’m happy to have the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar behind me. We’ll probably leave tomorrow to more reasonable climes.

I had my first wedding-anxiety dream last night. Cute, right? So I’m preparing myself (backstage?) for the ceremony. I had decided to wear a T-shirt with a sport coat, Miami Vice style, but now all of a sudden I can’t find the sportcoat. So me and my uncle Jim are like, tearing through the suitcases in this backstage area trying to find something that fits, but we can’t find anything, and then my mom busts in and she’s all, WE’RE ALREADY RUNNING BEHIND SCHEDULE!!! Very stressful.

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