It’s hard to get used to the chaos and crowds of Istanbul. There are always masses of people around you and they are always in a hurry. They run to get the Metrobus, they run up and down the escalators, they run to get out of the metro, they run to cross the street… they run all the time like they were programmed for a certain speed and there were no option to slow down. Inside myself sometimes I scream “Please, stop this madness! Why can’t you walk …just walk.. and breathe.. and look around for the sake of diversity? And smile.” Yes, people here don’t smile. If you look at their faces they are always tense and with a lot of wrinkles even young people.
There is no place for you as an individual in this crowd. You are just a tiny tiny particle of a huge, massive and unstoppable machine.. And you can either go with the flow or disappear. Every time I go to work and back it’s a stress for me. Seriously. I feel like if I stop for a second in this crowd they would just squash me… And me too I started running. I noticed that my walking pace has accelerated and I don’t like it.. The madness is contagious.
The level of noise is unbearable. Apart from all the cars, and busses and motorcycles, there are these people shouting “soğuk su, soğuk su” (= cold water) or some other stuff that they want to sell. It is absolutely beyond my comprehension why do they need to shout?! Seriously, I personally have less incentive to buy something when I hear this shouting… But apparently it works otherwise for Turkish people. And the guy with a whistle to signal that a dolmus (minibus) is coming? Every time a dolmus comes he whistles so strong that my ears get hurt. What for?
Crossing the street is another example of an absolute chaos.You can find very few traffic lights and people anyway just ignore them. What you need to do is just step on the street with all the driving cars and navigate through them.. Sometimes I see marked crosswalks (you know, these zebras).. But the drivers here have never heard of it. So don’t expect them to stop. In general if you wait for someone to stop and let you pass – you will wait forever.
I know that it’s not a very nice picture of Istanbul… But it is the way it is. And I agree that every city of this size is crazy … but there is something else very disturbing about Istanbul – the unhappy people. They don’t live here – they survive. And you can see it in every movement, every glance …
It took me 1.45hr to get home today. I could enter only the 5th Metrobus as all the others were fully packed.. And it’s not simply entering the bus, you have to fight for it! Otherwise you would wait for the 6th and 10th and 15th metrobus.. To leave the office at 6 is the guarantee of full “public transport experience”. I could leave it at 7, then the ride would be more enjoyable, but then I get home around 9 .. And it’s kind of late to go out because tomorrow I have a busy day. And I really work at my internship so I can’t just come and sleep there.
Imagine all these millions of people who have to go to work like this every day? And some spend even more hours on the road (like 2,5 one way). So obviously they are in a hurry, obviously they want to escape this madness and get home as fast as possible. And they are tired, exhausted and stressed…I feel very sorry for this city and I would never live here.