besides kicking a lot of strange people out of my house (a story which I may share someday–it involves the most boring frenchman in the world, and a girl he managed to pick up at the bazaar) I have been fixing all sorts of things in the neighborhood.
Alex and Valentine live on a rooftop apartment, just like us, about a one-minute walk from the Bull. The Bull stands in the middle of Kadikoy, a big brass monument to…something. Bulls don’t even figure prominently into turkish mythos. I have no idea why there is a bull there. It’s just a gathering place. It’s on a circular traffic plateau surrounded by malls and a McDonald’s.
[[ASIDE McDonald's here, and I guess in a lot of european countries, is not viewed as a cut-rate burgerminute place. It's a classy cafe. Ice cream is still one lira, but it's got some prestige attached to it, strangely. The job, not the ice cream. Though the ice cream does taste better here than in the states. McDonald's is of course the trucker-stop top choice of food in america–here, fast food comes from small Bufes which have a big tower of chicken doner (made from cut rate chicken, or perhaps pigeon) and cheap bread and lemonade which more resembles antifreeze than fruit juice) and maybe if you're lucky, a window box of oily pilav. And they're always a little different. It's a strange inverse from the US, where the everpresent fast food restaurants are all the same and corporately owned]]
Anna and I went up to their apartment yesterday for May Day. It’s may day! That means everyone has the day off! Because it’s workers’ day! Apparently in the 1970’s, during the normal course of may day celebrations, 23 people were shot and killed in a riot in Taksim (not really sure who did the firing and killing–cops or protesters). So, every worker’s day since, the government does everything it can to prevent people from going to taksim, including beatings and tear gassings, because it’s "dangerous." A beautiful logic. We had loose plans to go visit the walls of the old city, until Will informed us that all public transit had been shuttered–subways, metrobus, and ferries. To get anywhere you’d have to walk. So instead we sat on the patio and day-drank.
HOWEVER, when we arrived, the patio was sunk. It had rained a few days prior, and the water was up to my ankles (in the deep end). Alex recommended we pour down sand and make a beach. The problem, she explained, was the pipe–it was clogged somewhere. It runs sideways inside a wall for about ten feet, before exiting the side of the building and dumping into the exterior drain pipe.
Valentine had just woken up, and shirtless, went into the back closet, where all things are kept. He managed to find a hose. I rolled up my pants and waded in, and threaded the hose into the pipe. I pushed it in until I could see it emerge from the exterior pipe.
"Ha! Look!" I said, and then pulled it back a little bit, and blew into the end. Nothing. I pulled back a little bit more, and blew into it again.
Water sprayed out from the end of the pipe, and suddenly the drain was overflowing, the exterior pipe was leaking everywhere. The patio began to drain. I looked over the edge. A wet artery of drain water, plus far-scattered spray drops, led from the walls of the building to the sidewalks and into the streets. A cranky man stood below, looking up. He was doing a "what is this??!" gesture with his hands. He held a scarf, and was trying to display it to me, from four stories below. Turns out, there is a scarf shop directly underneath that previously blocked drainpipe.
The patio was saved, anyways. We sat outside and enjoyed the day. We watched the police commission public buses and sit around, waiting for a riot. Remember, if the prime minister’s in town, his party gets to commission public buses to transport people to the rally; but if there’s a protest for May Day, the city shuts down the city. Happy May Day.