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Istanbul, to many, a Mother and to me too !

Oh Istanbul, oh Istanbul
A mother indeed you surely are.
Here come the rich and downtrodden alike
From climes near and far.
Some for wages, some for wealth
Some simply to study its past.
Yet many are there that end up staying
To imbibe that mother's love
You have for one and all.

Past 4 in the morning
Azans clash and compete
Melody drowned in cacophony
Prayers must be heard, regardless, you see.
Then all is still
Only sellers of simit
Are pushing their wagons
Slowly up the hill.

As the day progresses
More vendors I see
The smell of roasted chestnuts and corn split from the cob
Jump start the hunger in us all.

Vehicles now parked, crisscross the streets
Pedestrians watch out
More power to cars here, it seems.
Young men unload trucks full of goods
Too heavy to carry
" Here, let me help you !"
This sight so often did I see
Human help is certainly alive in this old city.

Store owners with pot bellies survey
As their hawkers, while I pass,
I hear them follow and shout
"Buyrun, Namastey, India ? Come in please !"
Glass cases shine with gold and silver
Some others with sweets, multicolored to please
Bags and luggage are strewn on the sidewalk
Obstacle courses, therefore alert you must be.

The aroma of meats on grills soon rise in the air
Breads of all kinds, cheeses and salads
No special invitation needed to go in there.
Food served with joyful smiles
1, 2 or 3 stars ? Who cares.
That Ottoman cuisine nowhere else
Is here, the common fare.
Boys expert at the balancing act
Carry trays with Turkish tea
Wraps and goodies are also there
Delivered to those too busy clinking cash registers
That respond to liras and euros
And of course to that plastic cash.

Beyazid stores packed side by side
Folks pitter patter even through the dark
Ambulance screaming through the many parked cars
Neon lights colorfully blinking through the night.

Morning and evening between Avrupa and Asian
Cars glued it seems to me
Line the bridges over the sea.
The pauses help those with water bottles
Car windows roll down to reveal sad young faces
Holding memories of their land they may never ever see.

Buses, trams and the ferry
Loaded with people in a variety
Courteous passengers yield to women and the old
Love making for the young
Is slowly beginning to take a new hold.
Crossing the streets are folks from do not know where.
Some young in tight jeans and discolored hair
Reeking of perfume that spreads everywhere.
Women from villages, plain as can be
With faces that light up with simple glee.
Gray haired men of age with beads a turning
Heads bent, shuffling and muttering.

Beautiful faces as I cross the street
Sheltered by a building
Sitting on just concrete
A mother, a baby, a toddler by the side
A nursing bottle empty in one hand
With the other she stretches out to me.
No home, no land, abandoned
A feeling that should never never be.
But the war began by the rich
Now fostered by the mad
Rendering us the fortunate ones,
From guilty to numb eventually.

New buildings commercially rich
Line up with old Roman walls
Establishing a sisterhood of the present and the past
Palaces, museums, mosques and bazaars
Speak of a city that says
" Men may come and men may go
But I go on forever".

Away from town center
Undulating green dunes with Islamic calligraphy
Peace suggested with tulips and pansies.
Sea gulls fly between the roofs
A special world from above they share with me.
Beyond I see the calm Marmara Sea
Boats lined with borders of red
Matching the flag of this country.
Friends in Ankara called Beyazid, a Chaos
" If you can love this so much, the rest is a breeze" They said it would be.
A breeze it was of Love from one and all
That went forth for me, from Istanbul, a glorious city.
---------------------------------------------------------------
by Vasanti.
Completed on June 7 after my return to Petaluma, California