On a day that has witnessed primitive evil savagery in Brussels at the hands of misguided brainwashed low-intellect individuals, MB wants to mention last week’s attack in Istanbul.
Brussels will, of course, get more media coverage, and as MB has stated in the past, Europe and Europeans have no need to apologise for that. Brussels is far closer to home and many Europeans will have traveled to Brussels at some stage. Not so Istanbul. But the grief of the family members and friends of the bereaved in both cities will not differ, nor the trauma of the injured.
On Saturday morning last, a suicide bomber walked onto Istiklal Street and performed his obscene deed, killing himself and four innocent human beings. Some thirty to forty were injured. Two natives of MB’s home country were amongst the latter group.
Both incidents resonate in particular with MB. He, with family, was planning to be in Belgium this week, but changed his mind on account of the fact that daughter of MB was playing in the All-Ireland Schools football final two weeks back. So MB decided to take a trip home for the game, instead of traveling to Belgium this Easter week. A Belgian friend of MB was actually in Brussels this morning, as MB discovered just after the bombing, but thankfully he was in the right place at the right time. MB also has a good connection with Istiklal Street in Istanbul. He has walked its length on more than one occasion in recent years.
Istiklal Street is a great wide pedestrianised street, teeming with life and liveliness. It is the Nr 1 shopping street in the city of 15M people. From early morning to late evening, the street is awash with shoppers, or possible an even more numerically larger number of those who just want to enjoy the best of urban life, or life generally.
The Catholic Basicilica of St Anthony of Padua lies behind large iron gates along one of the busiest sections of the street. Pope Francis visited on his Turkish trip of 2 or 3 years back. St Anthony’s is the largest Catholic Church in Turkey.
Cafes serving Istanbul’s famous cuisine abound. The smell of Turkish coffee, and cakes to die for (but not literally, as happened on Saturday), and all sorts of delicious Turkish goodies, could keep a man or woman visiting the street day after day after day. Turkish ice cream sellers are street performers in their own right, as they perform numerous funny tricks on purchasers to the great amusement of onlookers. Look it up on Youtube. Great fun. Street musicians are also numerous and MB has sat listening to them many times.
An old-fashioned tram runs from the lower end of the street right up to Taksim Square at the higher end. Young kids cling on to the side of the tram as it plods along, not going fast enough to create any great risk to shoppers, nor any great risk to the ‘cling-ons’.
If MB is lucky enough to return to Istanbul at some future stage, he will walk the length of Istiklal Street, and enjoy every single second of it all over again.
Some of MB’s shots from Istiklal Street will give HX followers a feel for it. Inshallah, many of you will have the pleasure to witness it in the flesh at some future stage.
Thoughts for all the dead and injured. In Brussels and Istanbul alike.