September 6, 2017

Istanbul. June, 2007

The busy intersections at either end of the Galata Bridge can be difficult to maneuver if you try to do so above ground. Fortunately, city planners have provided underground walkways for pedestrians and (less fortunately) filled them with specialty shops such as this one. I was astounded the first time I saw it, coming around a corner in the jam-packed tunnel, through the labyrinth and around impromptu vendors who’d set up their small folding tables wherever they pleased. Nothing impromptu about this popular gun market though, always crowded no matter what time of day I happened to pass by. What I found most surprising, I think, was the boldness of it all. No attempt to cover up what would be much more clandestine in the US of A. Instead, men and teens inspected merchandise, weighed the pieces in their hands, inspected workmanship, took practice aim. Much in the same careful way that their mothers, wives and girlfriends might determine the ripeness of a melon in the nearby fruit market. The repetitive precision of the heat on display impressed me, too. Don’t you think Andy Warhol would have liked it?

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