Super weird. Last year there was this whole fish bazaar here, under a motley panolply of tarps. Vibrant. Whole thing got bulldozed into oblivion one morning when nobody could protect it. Had some of my favorite restaurants, too. At the time, the government said it was an illegal market and this was their justification for destroying it on the sly. Over the last year or so a few of the balık ekmek guys set up their operations again, careful to creep in and position their mangal grills on short towers of Styrofoam packing crates. I haven’t been back here in awhile. Now there’s a cheap wood tourist “historical fish market” glitz mall. It looks more like the remade mercantile facades on the galata bridge, or in the grand bazaar, or spice market. I asked one of the fish sellers, can I ask you something? Of course, he said, ne demek. What happened, I said, I haven’t been here in a while. We made a new çarşı, he said. I asked, was the last market illegal? No, it’s the same fish sellers, just a new çarşı, he said, and flicked his cigarette into the gutter. A new historic karakoy balik pazar, standing where the old one stood. There’s never an easy answer in this town.
A few months ago, of course, the government took over the leases of about 80 shopkeeps in the grand bazaar and turned them out into the street, and then installed its own partyline friendly shopkeep buddies inside the old covered market.