I am not terribly patriotic when I think about Turkey as a whole. Sure I want the country to be OK. Sure, I want it to get out from under this yoke of oppression and tyranny – which I am fairly confident that it will, sooner or later. Sure, I like hearing the music, or eating the food. But, I do not well up in tears when I see the flag or anything like that. I do not think we are better than anyone else on the globe. I become a bit more involved when it comes to Istanbul. But, when it comes to my own neighborhood Beşiktaş, I become a card carrying, flag waving, fully fledged patriot. I love love love where I live. The people. The mixture. The congestion. The animals. The sweet young things that flock from all over the city to congregate in the cafes and bars. The black and white that designates the colors of the soccer team around which everything here revolves. The un-elitism. Very important that.
And that brings me to “Çarşı” of course. The soccer fan club whose world view centers on anarchy, whose motto “Çarşı herşeye karşı” translates as “Çarşı is against everything.” I know nothing about soccer, wouldn’t know the difference between a goal post and a center field. But, “Çarşı” is something different. Something that goes beyond soccer. Something that brings together humor, kindness, protest and a deeply selfless love for a team – not because it wins, but also because it loses. I linked to a very good article on Çarşı (which I really do think is an international phenomenon) above, so I will not say more myself.
Long and short of it – I love my hood. I identify with it. I feel great wandering its many crooked unkempt streets. Going up to the park that has become one of the emblems of the Istanbul protest scene. And so, inevitably many of the Istanbul FB page pictures are taken from around here. At least initially, for now they are.