Agent L, having gotten back from Taksim Square only somewhat before 2 in the morning, and needing an hour and a half to wind down from an exhausting, uplifting, confusing, ultimately really awesome day, and then having had to get up and go teach at some ungodly hour, (all the teachers are hollow eyed today) is a little bit tired.
I am also overwhelmed and suffering from both sensory and information overload, and no coherent narrative about the last four days in Istanbul is coalescing in my mind. But I wanted to check in with those of you who don’t live here and might be hearing the news and fretting: I’m a-okay. I’m super. I actually feel better about living in Turkey than I did last Tuesday.
I’ll write more about this later, I promise. I have lots of good stories.
Quick, incomplete story from yesterday- got to Taksim late to the party. (It’s a very strange feeling to pack your purse for chemical warfare, but I’ll get back to that.) When we got there the cops had retreated from Taksim Square, and the air was festive. I haven’t seen the numbers on how many people were there, but I’ve been in Taksim on Bir Mayıs, when 2 million people pack into the square, and there seemed to be nearly as many people. Everyone was celebrating.
We slowly worked our way through the park and down to the square. There was a group of Americans standing by the statue and one asked me if I could take their picture. I said sure and then asked them where they were from. They were visiting from New York.
“Hell of a week you picked to come here,” I said.
“Yeah, we have some stories, that’s for sure.”
“And how are your sinuses?”
“Remarkably clear! Who knew that tear gas really clears the sinuses?”
“So was it vacation, or business?”
“We came for a school thing, actually.”
“Oh! What do you study?”
“Actually,” the fella I was talking to looked around nervously, “we’re MBA’s. But I don’t want to say that too loud around a bunch of communists.”
Thank you again, Truman, for creating several generations of Americans who are convinced that communists spend their days planning to murder and eat capitalist babies.
“These aren’t commies, dude. I mean, some of them are, but that’s the grand thing about this protest- EVERYONE’s here- moderates, republicans, kemalists, capitalists…literally everyone is here.”
He laughed nervously and looked unconvinced.