Monday, July 6, 2009

Dogs of Istanbul...Unite!

I have spent much of my time in Turkey suffering from a heat-addled brain.

The only solution I can find is to stay inside at all times, stationed next to the window to catch the breeze. I feel guilty because I am supposed to be sightseeing, absorbing the local culture and history. But all our sightseeing trips so far have resulted in headaches, dehydration, and eventually such irrational crabbiness that Rashed is forced to bundle me home, give me a rehydration drink (a Bangladeshi specialty--a tablespoon of sugar, a pinch of salt, a glass of water--electrolytes, hurrah!), and send me off to a cold shower, at which point I suddenly come to my senses and wonder if the last few hours really happened.

So...when friends and family ask how I'm liking Turkey...I haven't really known what to say.

But I do now.


Leave it to dogs to raise my spirits. They didn't at first, though.

When we first got to Turkey, we stayed with a friend of a relative, in her guest room, which had one window, and was fairly quiet, if stuffy. Now, that friend has been so unprecedented-ly gracious as to let us rent her apartment when our apartment plans fell through--and to leave and go live with a friend herself! So, we moved into her cooler bedroom, which has more windows, one of which looks out on some fairly busy streets.

The first night, we were appreciating the cool breeze when it started. One dog began to bark. Then another joined in. Then a whole gang of them in chorus. We wondered where they were--it was all apartment buildings around here, who has a yard full of dogs?

It was annoying, but I love dogs, so I didn't mind too much. Now we enjoy our concert every night, though it's never been as loud as the first time.

But that's not all. Today, I was writing by the window, when an ambulance siren rang out on one of the streets below. It sounded strange, with extra notes. Then I realized what those notes were. Dogs, several of them, howling along with the siren, periodically adjusting their pitch to get it just right. Another ambulance followed the first, and the dogs continued. Then I spotted one in the park across the street behind our building. Do the dogs sit in the park at night, serenading us? Maybe so.

The dogs of Bursa, a city a few hours from Istanbul, have a different manner of warming up their vocal chords. We spent some time there, visiting the parents of the girl whose apartment we're staying in. There, when the Muslim call to prayer started up at the nearby mosques, it was joined by some unexpected harmony. The family dogs howled in unison, warbling away with the prayer caller.

Unexpectedly, as I write this back in Istanbul, the call for the evening prayer starts. A few dogs start barking, then raise their voices and join in. I go to the window and look out into the darkness dotted by window lights. The howling wafts back to me, entwined with the religious words, from what seem like dogs stationed in different parts of the neighborhood, just as callers at several different mosques broadcast their words from different areas of the city.

So perhaps dogs everywhere enjoy lifting their voices in unity, just like humans.

The dogs of Turkey make me smile.


Anonymous said...

That sounds nice. :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds lovely - you do have a way with words KK.

Caminante said...

Time for a new update maybe? :)