Istanbul- Memories of a city by Orhan Pamuk

photo0706This is an interesting read! When I studied Hagia Sophia in school, its beauty imprinted my heart! Turkey has always been a mystical land of the Great Eastern Culture and symbolized to me Constantinople’s conquests and Constantine’s architectural vision that made Istanbul one of the best cities during the Roman/Ottoman Empire.

The cover art is sheer beauty! The warm, fuzzy yellow catches the eye first and immediately touches the heart. This is my first Orhan Pamuk book and I am in total awe of this wonderful writer. His melancholic verses on his city and childhood, dreams and magic, walks through the city made me peep into my childhood memories and all those fascinating walks through the by-lanes of Mumbai. Every word of his resonated with my memories of Mumbai- the city I love so much. Perhaps, sometimes its difficult to understand how people fall in love with cultures or cities or Urban Spaces(such an architectural term I use here!), however, people with passion for art and history and especially, ones who dream endlessly easily move through stone-walls and crumbling facades to glass cubes of uncomfortable realities!

When I think of Turkey, Huge Minarets, intricate jaali designs adorning those columns, Every moment I read through the writer’s Bosphorus walks, those historical references drove me into a parallel world of my own, making me travel that era! When he writes about the river’s silent witness to centuries of change, it takes me back to Mumbai’s history. How mesmerizing it is that another city’s history and culture ignited awe and pride in my heart!

Somewhere he writes- If the city speaks of defeat, destruction, deprivation, melancholy and poverty, the Bosphorus sings of life, pleasure and happiness. Istanbul draws its strength from the Bosphorus.
When I read his poetic verses on the Bosphorus, I couldn’t help but imagine the Ganges or Yamuna and how those ancient cities that existed by these rivers now just cease to invoke those memories! In a way, these cities have failed the rivers and the great civilizations they carried within themselves!

Think of people walking by everyday, talking, celebrating life by the rivers where now the only remnants are the ruins, those crumbling walls, forgotten history, moss and overgrown grass! Rome still has the colosseum and even Istanbul has the Hagia Sophia, but what does my city preserve? Where is that city from my dreams? The more I read, the harder it is to search!

***Came across this lovely song originally recorded in 1953 by The Four Lads.



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