So I didn’t move last Tuesday, but I did move today, and it was not without its complications. I had “sworn off” Airbnb after they stole nearly $1000 from me while I was in Johannesburg (long story,) but, here in Istanbul, it’s effectively the only game in town.
So I found a cute, tiny flat down a cute, tiny alley in Beyoğlu. It had a terrace, which I imagined myself working on, so I booked it for a month.
Unbeknownst to me, the owner had actually lied about the terrace, so it was more like a cute, tiny prison cell with literally nowhere to set my laptop: just a box that barely enveloped a bed with a barely accessible window.
The hardwood floors were gorgeous, though.
So it turns out that this guy owns a hotel off İstiklal, and as Zai and I were already late to meet our friend Andreu before he left for the western coast, we agreed to take a room there instead instead of spending hours painstakingly rebooking our stay with Airbnb’s overworked customer service agents.
It…is a hotel room. There’s a bed. There’s three actually, though I’ll only use one and Zai will only be staying a night as he scored a flight back to Amman. It does have wifi. But that’s pretty much the end of the list of good attributes of this place.
Not only is nearly everything in the room broken in some way, but to complement the many rips and tears in the wallpaper, there’s a generous splattering of blood on the walls, like someone sacrificed an animal in here.
And it’s on this loud-as-fuck block with two other hotels and a bunch of ad-hoc plastic tables and chairs in front of the abandoned tenement across the street where all the Johns sip tea and wait for their favorite sex workers to retrieve them.
A lot of these dudes are terrible, and between them and the new host of neighborhood cats, I wonder who the real animals are: I literally saw one dude trying to negotiate one woman’s price down from what I am assured is already a criminally low wage compared to sex workers in other cities.
If you’re unaware about the stray cats in Istanbul, you should check out this goddamned charming documentary about them. It’s my new favorite thing in the world.
To explain briefly, the confluence of city life and the tenants of Islam create a scenario where street cats have proliferated into the thousands. They’re everywhere: sleeping on chairs at outdoor cafés and waiting outside the butcher for the scraps they’ll inevitably be thrown. They’re beloved and cherished by Istanbulites, and I am now among them.
I fall in love with nearly every one I see, and I’ve had to train myself to not stop to pet them all.
My friends will tell me not to touch them, that maybe they can carry disease (*cough* CORONA *cough*,) but I mean, come on: Istanbulites are totally cool with them. Plus, a squirrel got the plague in Colorado, and you still see white people on Instagram keeping them as pets, so I think it’s cool.
And who else is supposed to keep me company when Zai leaves?
Just kidding: Lovage, Emma, And Miao are still here.
And there’s always Animal Crossing. You think I’m joking, but I downloaded it back it Johannesburg to pass the time, and now I’ve been playing for so long that I’m playing to fucking win.
Am I religiously playing a game intended for literal children? Totally. And seriously, don’t @ me, but do come find me if you also play Pocket Camp. I’m on level 157 and I have two fucking pools, son. You can find me at 6905 0804 639.
But if you’re anything like me and your circle of friends is dwindling and you’re worried that even Animal crossing wont be able to placate you in coming weeks, you can make like the unofficial 2020 mascot and just start screaming into the void.
For real, if you know of a better nominee than this peacock in San Francisco that wont stop screaming then I’m open to hear about them. But until then, I say we just all bow in respect at our future King Peacock, because I honestly don’t even think that’s weird anymore.
But hey. That’s coming from someone who plays a game intended for ten year olds and lives in a room that I’m pretty sure was used to slaughter chickens.
So what do I know.
And do you fucking know what else? After all that, we actually missed Andreu anyway.
[up next: Zai is leaving tomorrow.]