Note: This is the eighth and final installment in my series of trip reports from Turkey. You can find the previous seven here: https://bit.ly/2RQV9jT , here: https://bit.ly/2Q2FWPO , here: https://bit.ly/2B76IOB, here: https://bit.ly/2zSYmZ0,here: https://bit.ly/2qTPYVa, here: https://bit.ly/2DLTr0d , and here: https://bit.ly/2QXjHrE
It was the last day of our trip as a group, and at the Kayseri Airport in Cappadocia, even though there were smiles on our faces for the camera as usual, our hearts were heavy. No one likes saying goodbye, after all.
We all were traveling till Istanbul Airport together, after which Jiggy, Thakkar, and Pratik would fly off to Antalya, while Medha and I would get into Insanebul, I mean Istanbul for a night and then return to India the next day.
We started trudging towards the plane, dragging our feet to make those last moments together last for as long as possible.
“This is such a sad plane,” Medha said morosely, “I wish we didn’t have to travel on this for the last phase of our journey together.”
The other two just nodded in assent, like they were on auto-pilot.
And suddenly, just like that, I knew what we were going to do.
I raised my hands in excitement, accidentally poking the pilot in his one good eye, and then jumped high, landing with all my considerable weight on the co-pilot’s toes, and shouted, “Have we gone mad? Why the hell would we fly back on this ugly metallic contraption, when we have THESE at our disposal?”
And now, the sky was filled with balloons all of a sudden, those that Jiggy had bought for Tvisha and I had blown up (See yesterday’s story. How many times do I have to remind you that this is a series, please be serious about it.) as well as many, many more.
And just like that, the heavy burden on everyone’s heart was lifted like magic, and we all felt as if we had become so light that we could fly. Which we did….all the way to Istanbul.
At Istanbul Airport, we kept on saying Auf Wiedersehen, Sayonara, Au Revoir, Alvida, and Farewell, till I felt a tap on my spine, and the pilot whom I had nearly blinded at the Kayseri Airport said from his stretcher, “I promise I’ll fly all of you together on another trip soon, that too for free, but for now, please just leave so that my stretcher can pass through. The co-pilot’s stretcher too is on its way.”
And so it was that Medha and I found ourselves on the Metro to the city, where we promptly got lost.
First, we were unable to find a bus stop outside the Metro station, and then, having gotten down on a bus stop on the opposite side of our hotel, which was on a main road, we struggled for almost three hours to cross over the road and reach our hotel’s entrance.
But as the famous saying goes- All’s well that ends in the well, and it was thus that we ended up in not just a well, but an entire sea of humanity, otherwise known as Istiklal Street, aka Lipstick Lal Street, aka Red Lipstick Street.
“You know,” Medha said longingly, “Two things are still pending from my list. Should we do them today?”
“Neki aur poochh-poochh?(Old Indian saying, literally translated as Goodness and ask-ask, which doesn’t mean a thing, just going on to prove that you should never trust Google Translate beyond a point) I said jauntily, as two Donner Kebaps, filled with the juiciest, tastiest filling of bee….I mean BEEP (Don’t want to get into trouble with religious nut-jobs, so please fill in the blanks) we had ever eaten.
“That’s one down, and one to go,” I said with a loud, satisfied burp.
“And now,” Medha started off, “if I could just have some….”
“Baklava?” I said, pointing towards the window display of the shop in front of which we had just stopped.
After polishing off kilos and kilos of the tastiest Baklava we had ever eaten (well almost, the one in Hamburg shall forever remain unbeatable in our memory), Medha purred with satisfaction, and with a loud sigh, said, “It feels strange to be back on this street without everyone. What a night that was. The live music, the atmosphere, the dancing on the street….I wish we could do that all over again.”
“That’s what these stories are for, aren’t they,” I held her tight and whispered gently, as together, we went back to the night when our entire group had painted the Red Lipstick Street red!
Flashback over, Medha chuckled and said, “I’ve become tired just reliving those moments. Can we go back to the hotel now? I just wish that the bed is good, so that we can sleep in peace.”
And suddenly, before I could say anything, it seemed as if time had stopped on the street. Everyone stood frozen, and then, a familiar voice enveloped the street, the city, the entire country….as Pratik, through an akaashvaani (celestial announcement, loosely translated) announced in his trademark deadpan style, “The quality of the bed does not matter. Anyways, as soon as you hit the bed, you’re dead!”
And on that happy note, we said Shabba Khair (Good night) to Turkey for one last time. The honest truth was, we didn’t really like Istanbul, but we loved every moment of our trip due to the crazy gang that had banded together impromptu at the Mumbai Airport seven nights ago, and bonded together and become thick as thieves through the rest of the trip.
So long guys, and thanks for all the fish!