Boys in Istanbul will probably forever remember the glorious summer days when they jumped off the Bosporus shore and had a perfectly refreshing dip in the turquoise sea strait between Asia and Europe.
Girls will probably always remember wanting to do the same and not being allowed.
I took the bus from Kabatas to Sariyer the other day – which, as the picture below shows – is quite the way, and there were heaps of people jumping into the water, groups often up to 15 or 20. And not a single girl that I could have seen. For me, jumping into the water of our local pool when the weather was at least somewhat decent, is one of the fondest childhood memories. It’s just so perfect – refreshing, liberating, fun!!! And this moment where you’re flying… priceless. So I do not even have words for how much this sight hit me and the realization that girls here might be completely fine with what they are missing out on… (I know things are different along the Turkish riviera. But if it’s okay there, why is it not acceptable in the city?!).
I walked from Yenikapi/Sultanahmet to Kabatas (A) which is another 7km south, even beyond the little sea inlet (Haliç/Golden Horn, for the ones that are interested). On that part it was mostly older men out in the sun, fishing, relaxing, chatting, but less young boys. No women, again.
However, being an exchange student often means you do quite inappropriate things. Sometimes you’re aware of the fact that you kinda-sorta shouldn’t be doing this now, sometimes you’re completely oblivious.
Anyway, I met up with a friend from Bogazici University and at some point he told me that his friends are heading for a dip in the Bosporus and are asking us to come along. So after a quick beer on the way (Just because it was a hot afternoon. Really. I’m having that kind of life now.) the guys were super excited to get into the water and the girls were hesitantly looking around and wondering whether we should get in or whether we’ll stay good girls.
Needless to say, it took us about 5 minutes and a few (not quite so masculine) screams from the guys that the water is frrrreeeeezing to get out of our shorts (keeping the shirt on, we’re trying to make an effort here) and splish-splash we were in the water. After a few minutes an American professor came along and took us to a spot were you jump down from the promenade (it’s 2 or 3 meters, really not high) and let yourself get carried downstream in the current. It was heavenly. A massive freight ship caused huge waves and we felt like young dogs in the water.
Never a dull moment here, I’m telling you.