A Russian colleague sent me this message that one of her students sent to her from Istanbul. They have given me permission to post it here. It gives an interesting view of the troubles from a foreigner’s perspective:
My friend works at a travel agency and she gets extremely cheap tickets or tours very often. And so, on Friday she offered to go to Istanbul for peanuts really and to stay with her friend, which was even more tempting as it would save money.
When her friend picked us up from the airport, we went for a walk in Bağdat Caddesi (the most famous avenue in the Asian side where we actually stopped as it’s safer here). The he went to Taksim to protest and promised to come back in two hours and get us home. But he didn’t come and we were waiting for a long time. His phone wasn’t available, all our things were at his house and it was really terrible!!! Luckily, we had our passports and money on us so we were able to find a hotel.
For four days we couldn’t get home and find him!!! Finally, he contacted us, he was hurt by the police during those protests and sent to hospital. You cannot even imagine what is happening here!!! What is shown on TV cannot reflect the real image of the events happening. I am typing this message and hearing voices from everywhere, cars beeping, police sirens, slogans, people with flags, masks, whistling, they’re clanking with plates and forks!!
Every single day at 21.00, they start clanking with plates and forks, clapping their hands, shouting everywhere!!! In every area, people are doing that either on streets or staying at home but anyway somehow they are involved!! It’s really amazing and unbelievable!!! I went to Taksim once and it was awful…gas bombs, everyone was in a special mask, the streets are closed but people do not care! They sleep in Taksim Square, eat there, dance, play guitars. So many places are ruined to ashes!!! Police are everywhere, but people are not afraid because they support each other, they are so patriotic! I cannot imagine the same thing happening in Russia.
It seems like the most important event is happening here, everyone cares – women, children, elder people. I don’t wanna leave Istanbul! It’s so great here, I feel being involved also! I feel like I’m in the center of something important and vital for this country and for the world’s history as well. And it’s really not dangerous for a tourist if not going to Taksim.
I have moved to another area now, we live in Bostancı (also Asian side), close to Kadıköy and I can hear even now at these hours voices, and see columns, crowds of people walking along the road, whistling and shouting, and I also found out such an interesting thing- people are playing with the light in their houses like-turning it on- off on off on off in rhythm to those slogans!! It’s so unusual! Those crowds seem to never give in!! It’s amazing!! Everyone joins the crowds (except the ones who support the prime minister of course. My neighbours are supporters and I hear them grumbling and swearing.
Several days ago when I was walking along Bağdat Caddesi, there was a sort of protest but pretty small, I bought a flag and joined them. An elderly woman was staring at me and then asked where I was from. When she found out I was Russian, she was amazed and began praising me saying “Oh, you are not Turkish but even you care about what’s happening here!! Russia is with us also!! With the help of those who care we will cope with all these terrible things!” I was kind of motivated to support them after such words.
My friend cannot come to Asian side from the European now because they closed the Bosforus Bridge and people can only walk, those who go by cars have to leave them on the European side or I don’t know, maybe sleep there!