Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 13

The Disposable Istanbul

I can not remember how many times that I went into Istanbul from my home. It was a one to two hour trip depending upon the type of public transport that I decided to take. Every time, I tried to find some beauty in Istanbul outside of the walls, but was always disappointed. This is what the tourist does not see...the kilometers of bland apartment buildings, kitch commercial stores, monolythic shopping centers and the sea of vehicles, which are found all over the world. In Istanbul, there is no significant parks or open spaces in the western suburbs to break up this monotony. The poorer population often find green spaces only in the interchanges. On Sundays, the masses can be seen having picnics in these areas. These areas are dormitories for the nearby factories. It makes you wonder if the economic opportunity was worth it for those that migrated from Anatolia. Many come from the area of the the Black Sea near Trabzon area which is one of the most phenomenally beautiful places in Turkey. It is no wonder that most of the new residents of Turkey still identify with the villages they left and why they would like to return.

In looking from the bus window, I could find no separation between different land uses. Apartment buildings are often located to next to industries with truck traffic and sometimes pollution. It is not the image that the image that Istanbul boosters would like to project. I was in Rio de Janeiro recently. The same scene is seen there. In posters, one sees the beaches, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, and Sugar Loaf. No one is made aware of the large amount of Rio which is urban clutter...kilometers of housing for the working poor of Rio. Is this the plague of developing countries? In developed countries, the houses are better, the commercial centers more upscale and the industries cleaner, but the urban monotony/sterility still persists. Yet, this is the backdrop which the lives of people are played out.

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