Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Grumpy & Happy

The bottom photo (which is meant to be at the top... grrr... why can't I get this right) is me at the top bit of the Bosphorus with The Black Sea in the background. I feel a child-like awe whenever I find myself at far flung places like this. I mean, this is Istanbul, The Bosphorus from high school Greek and Roman history studies, and here is me! Standing right there! Freezing my nuts off! With that daggy little tour group sticker stuck to my hoodie! What a twat!

About that tour... if you're ever there and you want to do a tour of the Bosphorus, take the public ferry. It's cheap and you see everything you need to see. We took the advice of the hotel manager and paid more to take a guided tour, and because numbers were down we ended up not on the private tour boat, but on a public fucking ferry, wearing our daggy little tour group stickers. It was interesting enough, but we could have caught the ferry ourselves and loitered near the tour guide to hear about what we were looking at. Oh yeah - I got really grumpy about all this and didn't talk to anyone else on the tour. Everyone on these tours gets so polite and you get one or two people who start making naff little jokes to show off their local knowledge and it's quite painful and made me vow to never go on another tour as long as I live (we were to go on two more before the trip was over... but I swear, never again). Anyway, this other tour member dude decided we were going to be friends. He sidled up alongside, totally ignoring the poisonous vibes and the don't-fucking-dare-talk-to-me body language I was wrapped in, and and he dares to fucking talk to me. He asks what I do, I tell him, he says oh really without a shred of interest, then ear-bashes me about his life as a soldier boy, and how he's based in Syria or somewhere, and how he's on leave, and how cheap beer and aftershave is in Turkey (weirdly, it's slipped my mind but he told me the actual price of aftershave in both places... ???), and how he loves the sound of random land-mines in the morning, and bleh bleh bleh. It was interesting enough, although I will never understand people in the armed forces who say they want to get closer to real action. Are they mad? This is life dude - get back to me on this when you've had your legs blown off. I guess I was too preoccupied with my child-like awe at being somewhere so exotic and so far away from home to get into talk of the appeal of war.

Anyway, the stupid tour ended up back in Istanbul with a visit to some relatives of the tour guide who owned a spice shop in the spice markets near The Grand Bazaar, and if I hadn't been grumpy prior to this (which I was) I sure as hell was grumpy now because at the conclusion of the tour guide's little speech in the shop ("And now, my friends, you are free to purchase whatever you like."), the staff closed in on us to make us buy shit. I bailed. Had to shoulder my way through them and wait fuming outside. (To clear this up, I get grumpy, but I'm usually amused at the same time, so it wasn't all bad). Later The Dreaded One told me that the staff had been asking what was wrong with me. What? Because I didn't want to buy some fucking spices?

The second image is of The Dreaded One at Soulclipse (six day psytrance dance festival for the total solar eclipse, for anyone who doesn't know). This was the day after the torrential downpour, hours after Eskimo blew me away, hours after I accidentally slurped some liquid acid off the back of my hand, and a short time after my head cleared somewhat. Crazy morning, laughs all over the place with strangers and friends, purple sky and people everywhere with rainbow trails billowing behind them... I really don't know what I was thinking when taking the acid because it's not my kind of thing. In fact when it really started to nail my sorry arse I said to The Dreaded One, "I can't believe you let me do that, I really can't. You know what I'm like with acid."

Anyway, the sky cleared and went back to being regular sky blue (the pine trees still looked like peacock feathers for some time) and the day was brilliant, the vibe something I've never experienced before, and really, this picture of The Dreaded One neatly captures the happiness we were feeling. There were thousands of people excitedly getting ready for the eclipse, probably less than an hour away here, everyone wearing these silly looking viewing glasses, everyone making preparations to experience the event in their own way. One of the best days ever.

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