Despite living in Turkey, I know very little Turkish. (If you’d like to know more about our language situation, check out “Linguistic Overload”) My knowledge of the Turkish words for palace, church, museum, and the like really don’t tend to help when at a supermarket faced with mystery meats. But as if I needed another reason to know Turkish while living in Turkey, our host, Nurdan, told us that if you call up the market and tell them what you want, they’ll deliver it to you almost immediately.
We don’t seem to get that kind of thing in America. Sure, you can use the delivery service of various grocery stores – Coborn’s comes to mind for Minnesota, and does anyone remember the spectacular dot.com failure that was Webvan? But even with these services, you’d generally wait a day, whereas in Istanbul they’ll dispatch a man on a scooter right away and not think twice about it. But given that we live in one of the most densely populated places in one of the most densely populated cities on earth, where the traffic piles up like a Catalan Castell, how do they manage the delivery with such speed? We found out last night. They drive on the sidewalk.
Michelle and I were walking last night in Cihangir, choked with the Saturday night traffic of pedestrians, parked and parking cars, and vehicles inching forward through the overflow Istiklal crowd. We were on a sidewalk no more than two to three feet wide when all of a sudden the others on the sidewalk began to part, spilling into the street and pressing up against the buildings. I barely jumped out of the way in time for a Domino’s delivery scooter to come tearing up the sidewalk, and without thinking I yelled “you’re on the sidewalk!” as though he could a) understand me, or b) care. This was countered by a smiling young Turk who said in accented but clear English: “In Istanbul, is normal.”
Have you seen the “Just Girly Things” pictures, or even better, the parodies of “Just Girly Things”? I’m thinking of putting together a series of “Just Istanbul Things.” Of course, since I was only just quick enough to escape being run down by a sidewalk scooter, I’ll have to be quicker with the camera. I’m going to give it a shot, so stay tuned.