Oh lovely Istanbul… The city of dreams and nightmares, a blind love of the best kind. We have a piece of Istanbul on every side, we can’t drift apart from it. There are many reasons behind this inability to abandon. Now, we travel in time with an old Istanbul “dolmuş”.
A three-year-old child’s first meeting with Istanbul. A gigantic Aksaray-Taksim dolmuş he can’t fit inside his tiny world and he can’t forget. What a big size! Headlights seem like huge eyes, or monstrous watermelons, and the steering wheel is bigger than my dad!
We fit into it as the whole family, and even other people get on it ceaselessly. I’m on someone’s lap, the view is nice. I now suppose that we were on a Plymouth ’68.
That dolmuş had seemed so big to me that, I may even have thought that the whole Istanbul was in it. It was 1985, there were still non-yellow dolmuşes in that year. We were in a jet black Plymouth, and I had traveled the world, not along Aksaray-Taksim route on that day. I always loved dolmuşes from that hot summer day on. And I still remember the sour odor of its leather seas, and the strong smell of the engine cured over life experiences and hurts. Not only those, I also remember… Sound of their engines running like tractors, movement of their pistons, and their speed as they went down hills, their going up the hills of Istanbul slowly but surely like a goat…
Last dolmuşes of Istanbul were Desoto, Plymouth, Dodge, Chevrolet and Buick models. And we grew up, and faster than we would have liked. Later, they disappeared as well. I was able to get on those dinosaurs on their last days I think, for which I feel fortunate.
Now, every time I get on a dolmuş, I first pass on the fee, then I settle into the seat and start my journey in time. At the first moments, I close my eyes for a few seconds. I tune out the noise of new Istanbul. I open my eyes and ears as that small child who fell in love with Istanbul. I get that old acrid smell and feel the tobacco-smelling hands of my dad and permed hair of my mom on me. I hear the engine that made me quiver all over, and sound of the harsh gearshift by the “captain”. And I take a stroll down the memory lane in old Istanbul. The best journey of my life from Aksaray to Istanbul begins once more…
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