Istanbul: Pamuk's City
In 2006 Orhan Pamuk became the first Turk to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Although most of his books are novels he has also written a memoir about Istanbul, his home city. One chapter is devoted to what he says are a "random sampling of some of the most amusing advice, warnings, pearls of wisdom and invective I've culled from hundreds of thousands of pages written by columnists of various persuasions over the past 130 years. " Here are a few:
When you see a beautiful woman in the street, don't look at her hatefully as if you're about to kill her and don't exhibit excessive longing either, just give her a little smile, avert your eyes and walk on. (1974)
When dried chickpea and gum sellers allow children to pay them with pieces of lead instead of money, not only does it encourage them to steal, it also encourages them to pilfer stones from all Istanbul's fountains, cut off their taps and remove the lead from the domes of its turbes [tombs] and mosques (1929)
The loudspeakers on potato, tomato and propane gas trucks and the ugly voices of the men selling these products have turned the city into a living hell. (1992)
First the rents and taxes went up, and then, thanks to the immigrants, the city was flooded with razor sellers, simit sellers, stuffed mussel sellers, tissue sellers, slipper sellers, knife and fork sellers, sundries sellers, toy sellers, water sellers and soft-drink sellers, and as if that weren't enough, the pudding sellers, sweet sellers and doner sellers have now invaded our ferries. (1949)
Istanbul: Memories and the City. Orhan Pamuk. 2005.
[pp. 127-28 / Faber & Faber]