This: a plate of perfectly grilled fresh calamari with chili oil for dipping. Thank you, Istanbul.
There will be plenty of time to say the many things I want to say to Istanbul. But for now, let me just say that the city has a way of making you feel at home, at once. Not in the sense that one should rent a flat in Tophane and have all the mail forwarded. That may be a pleasant enough move, but what I am talking about is how Istanbul gives aid and comfort to the traveler.
The city comes by its hospitality naturally; it has been a crossroads since Xerxes threw a pontoon bridge across the Bosphorus. I found the place as a traveler; I first started flying through about three years ago when headed to the middle east or to the Black Sea republics or any of the other places in the region that are not nearly as easy to love.
I am sure there are conmen and connivers and murderers and the same ratio of spiteful bastards there as anywhere. And I share my Turkish friends’ suspicions of the motives of Erdogan and his AKP. I mean, what kind of monster would jail journalists at the same time as he jacks up alcohol taxes? Is nothing sacred?
Still, what was waiting me when I came in on the return trip from the Pankisi Gorge last summer? This: a plate of perfectly grilled fresh calamari with chili oil for dipping. Thank you, Istanbul. See you soon, I hope.