Bright side of life. Just a cliche?

I thought Copenhagen was not really my cup of tea: the grey days in here were so many and so long that I could feel their heaviness pressing on my lungs; it was not just the sun and the light that I missed but also the warmth of people, the small chat while waiting in a queue, the easy going friendship I made while waiting in the bus stop; on top of everything, converting the prices in the cheapest supermarkets from DKK to RON would always question my competences in math (“Wow, is that really the price!”) and installed the feeling that I have to learn to live only with dark bread, milk, vegetables and tap water.

Grey day, ha?

Last week, I met a Portuguese guy during one of my low skilled shifts in DPU who, in a few sentences, made me realized that my whiny attitude towards Copenhagen has to end.

We had a moment of respiro before the people arrived at the event, so I took the initiative of socializing in my clumsy usual way, asking him where was he from and how did he cope with the weather in Copenhagen. From a Portuguese, growing up under the friendly pleasant sun rays, I was expecting to hear a lot of complains about the weather here. I was already imagining our discussion turning into a critique of this grey place and I was ready to put my own hostilities towards this city into words.

Then I heard the guy saying: “I love the weather here, I can see the seasons changing and it was here that I had experienced my first snow.”

Pfuuu, what?! And the “what?!” must have been readable on my face, because the guy went on:

“You know, people always complain no matter what they get. In Portugal, during winter, there are about +10 C and people complain it’s cold. Then, in summer, they complain about the burning warmth.”

And I had to agree: people always complain no matter what they get. And it is not just about weather we are talking about here.Sunny Day

There are so many things I love about Copenhagen, from using my bike as the only means of transport in the city, the joy of opening the job portal and seeing that there are vacancies I can apply to, the big windows of the houses that would let me peep into their Danish life, the colored buildings or their cozy brick structure, the freedom of jogging wherever and whenever, to the healthy fresh air, great education system, supportive social system, the embracing feeling of safety on public spaces and much more…But on top of my mind, there were the complains about the weather, the coldness of Danes and the prices in the supermarkets…

You may not be in the perfect place. You may not be in a the perfect relationship or not get the job of your dream, or your ideal lifestyle… But you can always ask and train your mind to be aware of the advantages during your life journey. Or else your mind would make your life miserable. Because the Portuguese guy may be right: people usually complain no matter what they get.

Istanbul

Istanbul?! Oh, Lord, to catch the uniqueness of this city into words, I find it absolutely impossible!

It is rather a city I would feel: I would embrace and squeeze Istanbul so strongly that it melted into a river flowing in my veins. Thus I could always carry it with me and never miss it again. In the morning, I would step quietly and gently on the sunny narrow cobblestone streets with my eyes closed. In Istanbul’s sun, even when your eyes are widely closed, you see yellow-reddish playful lights. I would touch the hard irregularly-shaped ground with my bare feet and my palms, like a lunatic who never before had seen pavement. At lunch, I would touch Istanbullus’ faces: maybe melancholic, maybe smiling, maybe proud, or maybe flirting with a long-legged blonde tourist. I would touch their chubby cheeks when they chew a kebab, I would smile if I felt a black hedgehoged–mustache. In the evening I would feel the soft warm Turkish carpets, petting the dim light of the street lamps and the harsh stones of the crumbling walls. I would have baklava for dinner. And not just one piece. Then lick the sticky sweetness off my fingers: one by one. Late in the night, I would feel Bosporus, touching the curly waves in a windy night. I would go to sleep at the very first praying call, curling up in a corner of a leaning warm house.

It is rather an infinite city I would describe into pictures: grandiose mosques, trees and bushes covering blackened houses, abandoned collapsing houses, hundreds of colorful scarfs on a line blew in the wind on Bosporus bank, huge amount of merchandise resting chaotically in the middle of the streets.

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It is a city I could better catch into my nostrils than into words. To me, it smells like vitality, like mysterious lively energy. There must be some sort of chemistry how a perfume transforms under the piety of a headscarf. There must be some sort of sorcery that makes you hungry every time your nostrils feel the mix of fish and smoke on the Galata Bridge. Plus, they must be putting happiness in your cup of coffee, as one coffee pot keeps you walking for hours, thinking about the smell of wood, of wetness, of women, of men, of love.

It is rather a city I would listen. I would ask my heart to stop beating for a while, my thoughts to stop running. So, I would get the perfect silence to hear the humble music of Istanbul, speaking the language of melancholy; to hear the Sufi rhythms that rarely make sense to me, to melt into the grandeur of the call of mosques that gives me goosebumbs, to listen the merchandisers proudly inviting customers in, to hear what is the sound of a woman removing a silky headscarf and combing her chestnut hair before whispering love words to her man in a room of a filthy hostel.

I cannot yet catch Istanbul into words. But I would feel it, smell it, see it, and listen to it if I had the chance at least once more in this lifetime.

Christmas in “Istanbul. Memories and the city”

Reading a novel in a quiet flat under a gloomy sky, in a room transformed into an imaginary Yoga retreat centre as soon as our flat-mates left to their families outside Copenhagen, may not appear as the most exciting way to spend Christmas day. But reading “Istanbul. Memories and the city” in the dim light of a lampImage is like instant teleportation to Istanbul, wondering around its cobblestone narrow streets through the soul of a young man. The way Istanbul and the author’s memories are described felt so real to me that I may say I spent Christmas with Dayyuman, and a few other familiar figures: with Pamuk, Pamuk’s brother, worrying for his mother spending her evenings alone in the sitting room, blaming the father for all the mistresses he had, taking part in family arguments, loving the love for Black Rose, loving the joy of painting, getting lost in Istanbul’s poor neighbourhoods and savouring every single memory and history related to this city.

My dear family back home should be aware: really, this Christmas I was not just in Denmark. I was away with another family in a far far away land which I incurably fell for.