Constantinople or Istanbul

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Travel  |  House: Booksie Classic
Do you like Istanbul or Constantinople? Real account of my experiences in Istanbul.

Submitted: March 18, 2014

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Submitted: March 18, 2014

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I was awestruck and I suddenly remembered the famous They Might Be Giants song, where the band is singing how Istanbul is not Constantinople anymore. I tried to focus on what the travel guide was saying by leaning towards him awkwardly, but alas, it was too late already. The song was stuck in my head and the guide had stopped talking.

I was in the Chora Church, a striking reminder of the pieces left behind by the Byzantine Empire, built when the city was still infamously called “Constantinople”, when the tour guide (On whom I had a little crush on) began comparing Constantinople with Istanbul. Of course, everything he said seemed surreal then and I felt that I had time warped to the 15th century Constantinople. I imagined meeting this tour guide in Constantinople and taking him along back to Hindustan. Even the electrifying painting of Jesus with piercing eyes could not stop me from imaging all the wild things in the church and I snapped out of it only when the tour had ended.

I spent a little time in Istanbul; much of it was seen in haste and yet I could not help but wonder how different things would have been in Constantinople. Much of it still stands; the rest of it was lost to the dirt.  The churches and the mosques are now museums, and the Turkish delight was no more traditional. The roads are now made of concrete, and the boats transformed into ferries.  What has not changed? The blue sea, the crimson dusk, and definitely the gene pool!  The tour guide had asked me if I would choose Istanbul or Constantinople, when he was done comparing the two magnificent cities of two different eras. I did not know the answer.

A night before I was flying back to India, I decided to visit the LGBT restaurants on Taksim Street, for I had not done that already, being a sexually reluctant kid. It took some courage and self convincing to finally start walking towards the restaurant with the glorious rainbow flag hanging at the entrance.  I could see some cross-dressers smoking sheesha, Istanbul juxtaposed with Constantinople. I still did not know the answer to that question.

I do not quite remember if it was a time lag or my feet went cold, but I took almost a minute to enter the restaurant after I saw him in there.  A chiseled face, a rugged body, the olive complexion, the blue eyes; I thought it was Jesus from the church before it hit me. The tour guide was there, sitting across the restaurant, with a lit cigarette in his hand, and eyes on me. I knew the answer to his question then:

Istanbul.


© Copyright 2020 ShreyS. All rights reserved.

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