What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?
The stress of the trip was getting to me. The heat held me in its grasp, suffocating me. Headaches and hayfever plagued me in the days that I arrived in Istanbul. It went crazy the day of the protests. All I wanted to do was lay in the bed in the hotel room that was misrepresented in the website.
For the past few months, I had contacted professional fixers, friends, local food organizations, and local tour guides. Yet, I could not secure a single person that would help me the way I needed help. Partly, it was because of the budget.
Then two weeks before I arrived in Istanbul, I lamented to a friend of a friend in Bologna. She referred me to a friend who referred me to her friends in Istanbul. I met them on the first night, and they were willing to help me out with translation.
Then the protests happened. Magnetizing all the young educated Turks. How could I ask for a favor now? How could I finish my project? I kept texting everyone I knew through Whatsapp. “I can’t.” “I am sorry.” Essentially who cares about your project…about silly ice cream.
Then the day before I was about to depart, a friend messaged me, “I will be there.”
I was stunned. He had sent me photos wearing faux gas masks, the walls, and the angry people. He had said, “I have to go. They need me.”
And here he was, telling me that he was going to take a break to help me. To help me translate Turkish from an ice cream man. When I met the ice cream man first, he was so excited. Yet we could not communicate except smiling, laughing and gesturing.
“I don’t know how to thank you,” I said to the friend afterwards.
He laughed, “I needed a break.”
From this, just like so many contrived movies and documentaries, it’s the kindness of strangers. I would like to say that ice cream binds people. But it’s the memory, the childhood nostalgia that bonds us.