This blog-post was written back in September 2016 during my visit to Istanbul. A magical place where the borders between the East and the West cease to exist. One of the most underrated cities in the world, in my honest opinion.
I could probably rant for hours about all the things I’ve enjoyed about Istanbul: history, culture, food, architecture, people, coffee and a lot more.
But these thing weren’t the main reason of I truly fell in love with this fascinating melting pot; history and architecture can easily be found in any average European city. what really captured my heart is the daily hustling happening on the streets. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Istanbul isn’t an easy place to survive, but the people here are really going above and beyond trying to make a little extra living: the taxi drivers, the tour guides, the waiters, the middle aged women working the restaurants, the street performers, the musicians. They are all struggling, and yet don’t seem tired of hustling.
A lot of tourists act defensive when locals working in service or tourism jobs try to make an extra buck from them. They think they’re being taken advantage of. However, I don’t feel the same way. Many times I found myself taking a tour-guide up on his offer or buying something I don’t need or even going for one more Turkish coffee, just because the guy was such a brilliant salesman and I felt his talents should be rewarded.
The real hustlers in Istanbul though, are the Syrian refugee kids working until late hours on Eid night in Taksim Square, selling water and coffee and corn cobs to both tourists and locals, yet somehow managed to keep smiling or steal a moment to play with the other kids before they go back to their front lines.
I believe life is a zero-sum game and one day these little hustlers will find their day under the sun.
For that, they have won my heart. This life. And the next one!
كل عام و سوريا بالف خير