Tired, alone and far from home, the Eternal City, can be an unforgiving place. Religious tradition may favor the Catholics in Rome, yet Islam entertains apocryphal hope for ultimate victory in the struggle for religious domination. Global politics and religious ideology lose their import when you are sick and hungry. With no place left to go, a bridge over the Tiber River is as good a place as any to end a pilgrimage.
For more info on my show check out a June 11th article in The Spectrum.
Before my eyes could adjust, the smell was upon me–pungent and powerful. My eyes were stinging with scents I did not recognize. Inside the ancient spice bazaar, crowds were swirling, the noise was disorienting. Shop keepers smiled and nodded at weathered women. Women scowled back in negotiation. Shouting began as a wave that crested and broke over exotic shops in the tidal rhythm of the ancient spice trade.
I raised my camera to capture the confusion and she froze. Perhaps she thought her burka made her invisible. Amidst the current of chaos she had been invisible. I would not have noticed the androgynous shape among the many shapes in motion. It was in that moment of pause that our eyes met. Her eyes were all I could see. Sights and sounds and people were swirling about us and I could see her eyes.
I think that’s what I felt. I’m not sure if that’s what I saw.
She raised her hand, translucent against her robes and I took the photograph. We stood there for moments, centuries swirling before us. I could not see beneath her coverings. I had no desire to violate tradition. But in that moment, in her eyes, I could sense a depth of inner life, hidden beneath the burka; hopes, dreams, struggles, desires, hiding in the Misir Carsisi Spice Bazaar, in Istanbul.
Where do you think the White Witch of Narnia got hers?
In the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul I believe it just might be the best quality in the world.
Scented with the aroma of jasmen blossoms, jasmen tea has been a popular drink in the Middle East and Asia for thousands of years.
Saffron, caviar, spices, and of course, sausage.
Before Pfizer began selling little blue pills, the Spice Bazaar was your best source for spicing up your love life.
Your best source for love potion number 9.
Not one of the things I knew Iran was famous for.
The Spice Bazaar, or Misir Carsisi also means Egyptian Bazaar. Misir in Turkish is also mistranslated to mean corn bazaar, although, outside the bazaar you can find some delicious barbecued corn.
Fresh, hot and seasoned with exotic spices, don’t miss the barbecued corn from the street vendors outside the Spice Bazaar.
Islam is the most populous major religion in Turkey. Although no longer required, many women still wear the burka in public.
It has been a few months now since I was in Rome. Yet, the feeling of Rome has stayed with me. It’s hard to describe. Every city has a personality. There are some cities that are welcoming and inviting. Other cities are dirty, and scary. Still others have an energy that is exciting and invigorating.
For me, Rome was all of these and more. On one hand, it was steeped in ancient tradition. The Ghosts of ancient Rome were still present. The evolution of the ancient was overlaid with an oppressive Catholic air. Yet, on the other hand, that very air was vibrating with life. I could see it in the faces of people–some locals–most tourists, I presume. I would have liked to explore and research the Eternal City through the lens of my camera in greater detail, but alas, I had but one day.
This gallery is the first part of a two part essay on the people of Rome from last September, when the sun was warm, the leaves were turning and the city was very much alive. I’ll post the second part in a day or so. Your questions, comments and/or profound thoughts on the purpose of life through the lens are most welcome.