Istanbul Constantinople

Throughout Istanbul, I’ve been singing the Animaniacs song, except the only lyrics I remember are this blog title, then:

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
Why they changed it I can’t say
People just liked it better that waaay!

That cartoon was surprisingly clever at making catchy songs about boring subjects. Another one merely listed all the capitals of the U.S. I would link to it if I weren’t on my iPod right now. Helpful commenter?

Turkey’s theme song, however, is not from the Animaniacs, but rather Total Eclipse of the Heart. It played EVERYWHERE, both in English and Turkish, in cafes and nice restaurants and baklaveries, only now the real lyrics compete with the literal music video lyrics and I laugh and sing: what the effin crap / that angel guy just felt me up. If you haven’t seen the video, do it now! I’ll wait here . . .

In Taksim Square, we drank Turkish coffee, then turned the cups over and read each other’s fortunes in the grounds. She saw a mountain and tornado and a cat that will accompany me on my journey, up the mountain apparently. I saw a cat in hers too. And a dildo.

At the Grand Bazaar, I successfully haggled for some beads that ward off the evil eye for my mom and found out that if you walk away, they immediately decrease the price by at least 1/3. We kept getting turned around; the Bazaar is endless. Each time we looked at our compass we were somehow going northwest. Then we paid way too much for falafel because I was just so excited to see falafel on a menu. And I tried to use a starbucks giftcard (more on corporate imperialism to come!) except Turkey, as a country policy, doesn’t accept giftcards. Did they seriously vote on that, with like amendments and revisions and shit? Because wow. So I paid too much for coffee that day too. But then I bought fresh squeezed pomegranate juice – fresh squeezed y’all! – and wouldve happily set fire to my own face if they asked – that’s how blissed out I was.

This far, we had utterly failed to find any ashtanga classes so when Ellie found a studio in Istanbul, in English no less, we went and did yoga everyday we were there, which sometimes took us more than an hour to get there – we took ferries and trams and something called a funicular railway, which was not, actually, very fun. And even though the sudden intense yoga just about killed me after two weeks off (only two weeks!) I’m glad Ellie forced me to go. After yoga, we treated ourselves to French toast and “Mexican” omelets (I think Mexican food really confuses people here. Just last night I had enchiladas at a place called Mexican that was actually a spinach pie topped with tomato sauce). A dim-witted looking cat kept us company, which I petted until Ellie told me to “avoid the butt end” when I couldn’t stop laughing. The cat’s dirty butt became our private weapon of vengence against the smokers at the restaurant. That’s right, kitty, rub your butt all over those filthy smokers, Ellie would say and we laughed some more, thinking there are worse forms of revenge as that.

4 Responses

  1. that song is by they might be giants! i think they wrote a lot of songs for animaniacs actually…and they are coming to sf in november. when are you coming back?

    “istanbul was constantipole now its istanbul not constantinople so if you’ve a date in constantinople she’ll be waiting in istanbul!
    even old new york, was once new amsterdam, why they changed it i can’t say
    people just liked it better that waaaayyyyy!!

  2. I bookmarked “People You Loved Who Were Not Me” months ago and then today when I was adding something to my bookmarks, I saw it and was like “WTF is that?” And now I am reading more of your blogs.

    So to continue the useless trivia about “Istanbul (not Constantinople)”, just in case you haven’t been told by enough people, it’s actually an old swing song, and it’s been covered by a bajillion people, but TMBG’s is the most ubiquitous. I now work at a Turkish restaurant, so I hear various versions of it several times per shift, but somehow, incredibly unjustly, TMBG’s is not included on the list. Boo.

    Are you and Ellie visiting NYC again anytime soon?

  3. Istanbul was first recorded in 1953 by The Four Lads. Can’t remember if it was written by them or by someone else and they just got “first dibs.”

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