Like a stranger

I have locked myself up in my house for two days. Turned my table into a home office, and only briefly went out to get bread, cheese and fish. Okay, and wine. From behind the window of my living room, I have been watching the city. The Bosporus with ships passing by, the Besiktas stadium across the water, I can see the traffic going over there. I hear the city, too. Boat horns. The ezan, the call for prayer. Children playing. The street sellers passing by my house, selling simit, books, potatoes, and asking for second-hand stuff. The door bell rang, and I was happy it was only kids playing a prank, so I didn’t have to open the door.

I had been in my home country for ten days. I always long to go back to Istanbul, but the city also feels like a stranger when I return. It seems too big. I feel like I forgot the language. Like I forgot how to interact with the people. Like I’m not part of life here.

But I am. This is where I live. This overwhelming city is my home. I want to be here. But I just can’t immediately embrace it as soon as my feet touch the soil. I need time. A few days. Tomorrow Istanbul is mine again.

3 thoughts on “Like a stranger”

  1. The city overwhelms me frequently (and not just when I’ve been away for a while). But I love it like no other place I’ve lived. As yet I have not worked out how to square the circle; something tells me I never will and that ultimately I’ll have to leave. But until then, every effort to be here feels worth it.


  2. Hoimir, the other way around is very different. I’m usually in the Netherlands for maximum ten days, I immediately have appointments and yes, it takes time to land but it feels very different. Because it’s so temporary. Or maybe also because in the Netherlands I still automatically fit in – but while I write that, I know that’s not 100% true anymore…


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