Istanbul. The capital city of three great empires. The bridge linking Europe and Asia. A source of endless inspiration to great songs and poems. An eye tirelessly watching its nomads come and go. The land of conquerors and the defeated.
Many come to foreign lands to realize a dream. The ones with limited resources come alone at first. They try to survive with the hope that that dream is only a few (exhausting) steps away. Their loved ones will follow them once they ‘make it’. Istanbul is one of those viciously inviting cities for these reveries.
Legend has it that the stones and soil of Istanbul are made of gold; its people are gentle and kind. Perhaps, if you ask them now, the residents of this mighty city will comment that this was a long time ago. In truth, it may no longer be the land of golden opportunity as it was once upon a time and still living here is an offer not many can refuse.
I came to Istanbul, like many, with a multitude of hopes. I had a familiar two-level strategy to succeed. Work hard, save money. Knowing that realizing this cycle was crucial for my existence, I started to work (at a job I wasn’t interest at all) at 6.30 a.m. and worked until midnight. The only noteworthy time of the day was walking back home after work (mostly half-asleep), through a dark and yet beautifully silent park. On one of those nights, I was determined to have a small escape before I went back home so I picked a bench in the park, sat down and listened to the nightingale. Its sound was so simple yet significant.
As might be expected, I opened my eyes at the first light of the morning; hours laters with a major neck strain. I was accompanied by a sleeping dog and a dozed-off old man. In the following weeks, I started to work on this project. Documenting tired (and homeless at times) people of Istanbul.
This is the story of discomfort of Istanbul. Its aches and pain; its tiring core below the shiny surface.