“To see the cypress trees, the dark woods in the valleys, the empty and neglected aylis and the old, weathered ships with their rusty hulls and mysterious cargoes, to see – as only those who have spent their lives on these shores can – the poetry of the Bosphorus ships and yalis, to discard historical grievances and enjoy it as fully as a child, to long to know more about this world, to understand it – this is the awkward surrender to uncertainty that a fifty-year-old writer has come to know as pleasure. Whenever I find myself talking of the beauty and the poetry of the Bosphorus and Istanbul’s dark streets, a voice inside me warns against exaggeration, a tendency perhaps motivated by a wish not to acknowledge the lack of beauty in my own life. If I see my city as beautiful and bewitching , then my life must be so, too. A good many writers of earlier generations fall into this habit when writing about Istanbul – even as they extol the city’s beauty, entrancing me with their stories, I am reminded that they no longer live in the place they describe, prefering the modern comforts of Westernised Istanbul. From these predecessors I learned that the right to heap inmoderate lyrical praise on Istanbul’s beauties belongs only to those who no longer live there, and not without some guilt: for a writer who talks of the city’s ruins and melancholy is never unaware of the ghostly light that shines down on his life. To be caught up in the beauties of the city and the Bosphorus is to be reminded of the difference between one’s own wretched life and the happy triumphs of the past.”
Istanbul, chapter 6, Exploring the Bosphorus – Orhan Pamuk
It totally reminded me the way I see my native Panama…being away for so long makes me imagine my country with the eyes of the 18-year-old who no longer lives there. My country has changed. I have changed. I still feel a strong connection with my past there! This nostalgic view, melancholy, is something I think will be with me forever.