This is something of an accident report but a story of the perils of world travel all the same.
I was walking down the street and about to cross a road when a car turned onto the street I was about to cross. I stopped and watched the car itself stop and then, of all things, reverse itself into traffic, something you would not want to do in Istanbul. So as the road was clear I took a step and went straight over as the reason the car had stopped and reversed was because a set of road barriers which were buried in the road had lifted right into the path where I had just stepped. My knees are now both bruised and very sore and my trousers are torn and in the bin. The fellow monitoring the street barrier came running up to me and told me in English straight up – no local would obviously have done the same – that the barriers lifted automatically and he had had nothing to do with it.
This kind of security is everywhere here. Cannot get into the university without a bag check and a taxi does not drive up to the hotel without a mirror used to check for bombs beneath the car. The hotel also has these hidden barriers and now that I have begun to notice, they are, indeed, everywhere.
All that aside, there are remnants of Byzantium, Constantinople and the Ottoman Empire everywhere. A Roman aquaduct runs through the middle of the city. The traffic, however, is unbelievable. No matter where you come from, it is about the first thing everyone notices and mentions to others. But for me, it’s not the traffic but the walking that’s been the problem. Tomorrow I present, and knees or not, up on that stage I will go.
24 Hours Later: Ah, the riddle of the sphinx has now been answered in person. I have gone from four legs to two legs and now to three. Went off to the Grand Bizarre to pick up a walking stick. I can barely move without it but now with it can at least get around. My knees are red and sore and a stroll which would have taken me twenty minutes two days ago ended up taking an hour. But a very nice walking stick which my wife beat down from 75 lire to 40 where both buyer and seller were very happy. I specially liked the chap’s sales pitch, that he would cheat me less than anybody else. Hoping this is only temporary but who can ever know.