The Missing Ingredient—by Douglas Tang, 2015/5/6
Now having been in the city for more than two months, I’m confident to say that Istanbul’s unique skyline is definitely one major appeal that makes it such a popular travel destination for the millions of tourists that visit the city every year.
What I love so much about the city is its cultural diversity and historic sophistication that are readily reflected and visible in its beautiful skyline which has been built layer upon layer through the course of its prolonged history—the ancient Roman and Byzantine edifices with soaring Islamic domes and minarets are smashed together with modern city life scenes and clusters of green on a pastel backdrop of modern high-rises, transmission and telecom towers. Together they stitch together a scenery of a living storyboard that brings what we’ve learned in our classes to life.
However, it was what I experienced on May 1st that hit me, making me realize I’ve left out an important ingredient in the Istanbul skyline. Being the Labor Day there was expected to be some large scale of protesting taking place around Taksim area where our apartments are nearby. So the day prior we were informed to not go out near the square area or for that matter anywhere toward and beyond the Taksim direction should be simply avoided for your own protection.
I knew wholeheartedly that we were told so because no one wants anyone to get in trouble if not get hurt so I did I what I was told. Well, I did half of what I was told. The morning sun was blinding and it was just too beautiful outside to be wasted staying inside staring at the walls of our apartment. So I was lured out by the blazing sunshine with my stuffed backpack packed with things and laptop for studio work.
Less than a split second after I stepped outside the threshold, my ears instinctively told me something was off. There was not a single noise—the normal sounds of passing bikes, cars or people magically vanished from the surface of the earth. The streets were clear, empty and just looked out of place. The answer to this buzzard phenomenon was soon revealed to me after I climb up to the top of our street. It turned out a large part of the city near Taksim had been barricaded overnight and policemen were stationed at each intersection for pedestrian control.
I guess I will never know what actually played out that day at Taksim square because I wend straight in the opposite direction of Taksim to one of my favorite outdoor café by the military museum. On my way there, I walking freely everywhere in the roads because the whole 8 lanes of traffic were blocked and there was not a single vehicle driving. It felt as if all citizens of Istanbul had been adopted the beamed up away by the aliens while I had been sleeping.
Even though it’s a quiet and peaceful morning and afternoon spent at the outdoor patio Istanbul was just not Istanbul without the normal buzzling swarming people and the ever going street life. Istanbul is made Istanbul by the people that use and occupy the city and without people she is as well as dead.
Here, I found it. The last ingredient to the city’s skyline is its people.