I’ve recently been sick, as is what happens when college students come back from being away on break and are forced to share the same cramped living spaces and stuffy air. A side effect of being sick was having my sleep schedule get a little off, so I was sleeping when I shouldn’t and then couldn’t sleep when I should. During those times I couldn’t sleep, I decided to go back and read through parts of my journal just for fun. I rediscovered some stories that I had forgotten about or got shoved to the back of my mind in light of the bigger events that took place while abroad. You know what I’m talking about. So for entertainment’s sake I thought I’d share a few. One other thing prompting my desire to share is the fact that I’m currently taking a class titled The Creative Process, taught by a woman who not only has lived in Sri Lanka (awesome, right?) but actually knows some of the people that I met while I was there. Imagine how surprised I was to find that out! The basis of the class involves Ms. Vance telling us stories from her childhood in a very artistic and captivating way. Ms. Vance titles stories after the color that comes to mind when she hears them, so here is the beginning of a series of my colored stories.
The Blue Story
Today was the day we were going to visit the Blue Mosque. This was the one thing that I was looking forward to seeing in Turkey and I was not going to let a little illness stop me. I had so carefully rotated my five outfits according to this day, so that I could wear my blue dress and scarf while visiting the Blue Mosque, because, blue. It was perfect.
As you know, Istanbul was a time of recovering for some members of our group. After one particularly long day of multiple intervals of sight-seeing, then napping, then sight-seeing again, then more napping, our group decided to check out the Arasta Bazaar, located straight up the street from our hotel. We had already visited the Grand Bazaar, which is not an understatement, as it is one of the largest markets in the world, receiving close to 100 million visitors a year. This particular market is much more subdued, but with the price for the peace and quiet is well-reflected through the prices in the stores.
Walking past one store, a shop worker said “Bonjour,” to me, and thanks to my education and world-travelling experiences, I knew that this is French for hello. So I so cleverly said, “hi,” back. Smooth right? The fact that I did not reply in French seemed to genuinely surprise him though, because he said, “You’re not French?” And I was like, “Hahahha. No. Thank goodness,” (not really but it’s what I thought as I quietly counted my blessings). He then guessed that I was from Canada and, again, I had a similar thought process. I finally (somewhat proudly I’ll admit) told him I was from Virginia.
My friends wandered over at that point and the shop worker, noticing that Eli was the only guy out with seven girls, started joking that we were all his girlfriends. This is not the first time this joke came up throughout our time abroad, as we had two males and 15 females, meaning that the guys generally got a lot of attention when they were walking around with us and were seen as being “in charge” of us. They were absolutely not seen that way by any of us as we were most definitely in charge, but where we were traveling, it is typical of women not having individual rights or opportunities and are often seen as property.
This was a particularly funny encounter for us, because we, as young independent American women, knew very well that we were not under anyone else’s control, so when the shop worker asked Eli for his permission to go on a date with the girl in blue (me), we did our best not to insult his feelings, although it was hard to take him seriously. In an effort to leave on friendly terms, we asked for his opinion on where to eat and what other sights to visit. We did leave on a good note, and took his advice for where to go for dinner.
We went to a restaurant nearby, entered in through the dimly lit basement and took a sketchy elevator to the top, where we stepped out onto the rooftop of a beautiful patio, with the Blue Mosque sitting so quaintly right next door. We had an amazing dinner (lentil soup for those of us participating in the previously mentioned recovering period) and watched as lanterns were released into the night sky.
You can probably guess why I now think of this as my blue story. Blue dress. Blue scarf. Blue Mosque. Blue sky.