Friday, October 3, 2008

Trafik çok kalabalık

When I first came to Turkey, in the spring of 2001, there were billboards along the highways telling motorists, "Içinizdeki Trafik Canavarını Durdurun," or "stop the traffic monster inside you."

Traffic in Istanbul, the most populous city in Europe, with an estimated 10-15 million residents and ancient (literally, in some cases) infrastructure, could certainly provoke road rage on the best of days. Throw a little Ramadan, when everyone heads out to visit friends and family, into the mix, and well...

Yesterday I was waiting for a bus between Arnavutköy and Kuruçesme, on the always-crowded shore road that runs along the Bosphorus on the European side. When a bus finally came, it was too full to stop. It was a beautiful day, so I decided to just start walking until another bus came along. About 3 kilometers later, I arrived in Ortaköy--and passed the same bus, sitting in traffic. It didn't catch up with me again until Beşiktaş, another 2 kilometers down the road.

Amazingly, unlike the Hornapalooza we encountered on the toll road back to Istanbul from Edirne a few months ago, the drivers were all sitting silently in their stopped cars.

Perhaps the traffic monster, if not the traffic, has been calmed a bit. Or perhaps everyone was just too sedated from all the holiday feasting to even bother.

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