Z and I finished our breakfast, walked up our hill, and then down to the end of Istiklal Avenue. All of the people had gone home. Street cleaners and cats roved up and down picking up bits and pieces. Sleepy-eyed simit sellers stood behind their red carts, made change, and then shoved their hands in their jackets and waited.
The street had the feeling a carnival ground in the morning.
We stopped under a tall brick cylinder. The Galata Tower.
“So this is home,” Z said, “If you get lost.”
I looked up.
Z looked at me. “You can see if from all over the city.”
A burly man set up his brass shoe shine stand. Two older women walked past, hand in hand: same ankles, same waist, same long coat, head scarf, low heeled shoes.
“So apparently this the tallest structure in the city when it was built in 1348.” Z looked up from his phone. “By the Genoese. When Istanbul was Constantinople.”
He chuckled to himself. “Wikipedia says that in 1630, a man jumped off of this tower wearing a pair of wooden wings and sailed all the way to other side of the Bosporus.”
Icarus, I thought. The women sat down and crossed their ankles in the same direction.
“And his brother,” Z said, “Shot himself off the top of the tower with a rocket. They both survived.”
The women looked up at the tower. Dear god, I thought, their poor mother.
We walked down the hill, long shallow steps, with empty tea glasses stuck in the corners, by doorways, on electricity meters.
“And that would be the Galata Bridge?” I said, “And the fisherman?”
Shyam had said they were always fishing. And there they were, with long poles, and ironed slacks and buckets full of tiny fish.
I could not remember the name. Thanuja’s book of restaurants had mentioned them. We were supposed to eat them battered and fried. And we’d seen them last night, a man crouching in front of a bucket of the finger sized silver fish, snapping off their heads. I scrolled through my photos. Hamsi.
From the bridge the wind was strong and the Bosporus was dark. One of the fishermen pulled up his rod. A string of hamsi wiggled a foot apart on the line. He dropped them into his bucket and his line back into the water. Another fisherman did the same. And then another.
I looked over the edge. I expected to see the glint of the hamsi in the water. But I could not. Instead, there were jelly fish. Hundreds, thousands. Floating, translucent, like plastic bags, breathing in and out with the current.
One summer when I was young, my father ran and jumped off the seawall into the ocean. When he came back up again, his right eye was red, blood shot, swollen. We went over and looked in where he’d jumped. Floating there, in our warm green bay water was a similar slight purple creature, breathing with the current.
“Do you see all the jellyfish?” Z asked.
I nodded. I could see the Galata Tower behind us.
“I wonder if anyone ever jumps in?”