Friday, November 14, 2014

Ode to an Istanbul Autumn Night

The boza seller--whose somber night buskings herald the Istanbul autumn

In Istanbul’s deep November, the boza man wanders far and wee. He only appears after 9PM, like a chuck-wills-widow. And the autumn night is misty, but not rainy. Swirls of droplets gather on the car windshields like sugar. And the air is still just warm enough to jog in a T-shirt and just feel a pleasant little chill as the wind rushes through the trees and sluices between the rows of apartments. The streets are wind tunnels. The maples and the chestnuts have turned lemon-gold and their leaves scatter the pavement, but the other trees remain stubbornly green. Grapevines wither. The boza man calls boooooooooooooza, booooooooooza. A long cry into the sky. A streetlamp in a line of street lamps sits in the middle of a fig tree like a captured star. The leaves swirl with a gust of wind. I run from island of light to island of light. I want to catch the boza man. Booooooooza. He turns a street corner, from shadow to shadow. I jog past an alley way and see him walking past a dumpster. He’s a bow legged Gypsy and leans to the left where he carried his heavy samovar of boza. A bald spot shines in the middle of his scalp. He calls out that slender, mournful song, like a ghost or a banshee, boooooooooooza and disappears around a Mercedes parked half on the sidewalk. And the street still seems to call booooooooza but with no human throat to voice it. Just a melody in the emptiness. Istanbul’s working class ezan.