The first couple of times I saw the Bosphorus I barely noticed it. My eyes were seeking the other side, the Orient. The vast steppes of bleached bones; illusory oases with fragrant harems; bad news brought by dusty waves of Huns, Turks, Tartars; lavish silk and utilitarian wool; trance inducing whirling dervishes; treasures burning in mystic fire.
To get to the Orient, you have to cross the Bosphorus. And that’s how you notice it, how you find it, how you understand it: by being in it, surrounded, a guest and a prisoner of its benevolent waves.
Purposeful ferries of different sizes take you across and back. From their decks Istanbul appears tamed, defenseless. The hustle and bustle is snuffed by the breeze, people shrink into antdom. Architecture now stands alone to represent the city. Drawn out in luminous limestone, it hugs the tall banks of the Bosphorus with ease and grace.
Close your eyes now, listen to the waves and feel the wind. It’s the same wind that filled the sails of Jason and his Argonauts, the same waves that confronted sultan Mehmet‘s assault on Constantinople. Thousands of years from now the city may be gone; proud minarets following shiny skyscrapers into the maw of oblivion. But the waves and the winds of the Bosphorus will endure, pounding the shore with eternal equanimity.