Edited to add pics. Now stop being mad at me.
The OA likes to say that I have just always been pregnant or nursing which is why we’ve never visited the mad sibling in the US before. He’s right, partly. But mostly, it’s because we were the first to get married and in the last couple of years there’s been a wedding in the family every year, taking up all our leave. No complaints though, because those have been great fun too. And then this year we decided we were going to go before my brother had another baby or decided to move, or something of that sort. And so we did. Observations follow.
Our first stop was Turkey. I fell in love the moment I stepped out of the airport and the Mediterranean breeze caught me. Everyone thinks they have seen the best Turkey has to offer. Each person believes they saw it in a light no one else did. At least that is what I’ve gleaned across conversations. I feel the same way. That it’s MY Turkey. The streets are clean and lined with flowering beds, the monuments sparkle and the bathrooms are clean (yay!). Bombay could have been like this if our country weren’t so overcrowded and dirty. In some ways it reminded me of Delhi, with the huge lawns where families picnicked and reminders of the past nodded benignly in the background. What really amazed me was how stylishly people were dressed. Smart cuts, clean lines, ageless styles. And how beautifully hot pants and hijab coexisted. I’ve never seen it done so seamlessly. At the Blue Mosque we had to cover our heads and I was given a scarf. Being the earnest sort that I am, I spent most of my visit nervously holding the edges together, threatening to strangle myself and in the bargain, sweating profusely. Thankfully I was in a pair of jeans but another lady in shorts had been given a length of fabric to wrap around herself. It kept opening up to reveal her legs and custodians kept stopping by to tell her to cover up. I really admire those who can do it all day. I know that my half hour there was fraught with tension and sweat and very little devotion.
Bollywood follows you everywhere and we chanced upon a team from India shooting a film with Anil Kapoor and Amisha Patel. The starstruck OA insisted on pictures while I acted snooty. We moved on to Top Kapi Palace and saw a strikingly goodlooking couple who were clearly very aware of how fantastic they were. As we neared them, we realised they were Kareena and Saif!
The food everyone said, would be disappointing and unfortunately it was. I didn’t like anything we ate, except the desserts which more than made up for the lack elsewhere. The OA, who lives by his belly was most disheartened. So when I begged and pleaded that he find a job there and move, his only argument was – and what will we eat? You don’t cook and I can’t stand the food. Oh well, you can’t have it all, I guess – hills, beaches, weather, awesome people, great transport system, history, fashion, I could go on.
We sat at cafes and ate, watched people go by and walked the days away. I didn’t have the heart to leave and the only thing that pushed me onwards was the desire to see my nephew. And so we left.