Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Wild Day

I asked the receptionist how to get to Chora Church (pronounced Cora for some reason). He suggested I take a tour for 25 euros. I said it was too much, I just wanted to visit the church. He said, "Ok, 20 euros." I told him, that I was going to Haskoy afterwards. He told me how to get to Chora, but I decided to go my own way.

I left Topkapi tram station and walked towards Chora. That sounds easier than it was because at some point the sidewalks next to the highway ran out. I had to run across several lanes of highway, speeding cars and all, much like Eddie Murphy in Bowfinger.

At one point, I had my back against the wall as cars flew inches from me. I saw a man and jumped back ove rthe wall. He grabbed me and took me on a bus that stopped 30 seconds away. But there was no way for me to get there walking without risking death. Then it was an ordeal to get to Chora fromt here. Most people had no idea what I was asking. An elderly French man recoiled in horror as I approached him, but his wife was more poised and helped me out. Chora Church was a let down after that harrowing experience.

Then I walked to the sea. I stumbled upon a cockfight in the park. Two roosters reached for each other's neck as if they were two competive lovers trying to out-kiss each other. I didn't stay to see who won.

I hopped on the ferry to go to Haskoy. I though Haskoy would have a prominent Jew town. I would ask for the synagogue, people would point to it and I would meet my fellow Jews. Um, it was a nice dream. In reality, I asked for "synagogue" and it elicited a wide range of reactions. For the most part I got back confusion and apathy. One man yelled at me angrily something about Allah. Another group ran for their lone English-speaking friend who told me there were no synagogues in Haskoy.

I went into an internet cafe to look it up online. After writing down a half-address, I asked where the sea was. The internet cafe worker found his English-speaking friend Ilyas (when I say English-speaking, I mean he knew about twenty words). Ilyas recruited his friend (who spoke no English) Orhan. Ilyas, Orhan, and I went off in search for the synagogue.

One problem, they thought a synagogue was a church. Even despite my showing them my yarmulke, my Yuri Foreman shirt with its Star of David, and my repeating "Israel, Israel." We walked and walked. They continuously stopped to ask people. I think they were constantly arguing about directions because synagogue was every fifth word and they kept motioning left and right. They were probably in their mid 20s, between 5'6" and 5'9". Ilyas's hair was gelled in the front and he donned a leather jacket.

At several points other people joined our quest. One was a man with a long gray beard. He patted me on the shoulder when he left us. Afterwards, Ilyas made a beard motion and said "Haji" Then he said, "Bin Laden," and laughed. After an hour and a half, we found the synagogue. I had walked by the high red walls with an impressive amount of barbed wire above its walls about an hour and 25 minutes before. I felt like such a shcmuck. Ilyas repeated rang the bell and pounded ont he doors. The synagogue was closed.

I walked to Eminu afterwards, no small task. I took the tram back to Sultan Ahmet, ate, and came here. I've been talking with the recptionists, including my NBA-loving friend for the past few hours. There goes my plans to go to a cafe and meet people. We talked about Erdogan and they both saw him asa bad influence ont he coutnry. Another receptionist who stopped by said he is not a supporter of Erdogan, but asserted there was no better option.

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