Once Upon a Time in Istanbul

I spent the week of Easter with my mom in Istanbul. We no longer have an apartment there as she lives in a residence and there is no other family there. So we found a nice hotel and made it our new home a few years ago. Each time I go visit her we stay at “home” together.

This hotel has been there for a while and it is an international hotel, which means along with tourists the “foreign” community of Istanbul also go there on special occasions. And so happened on the Easter weekend. The surprise of Easter is that it coincided with Ramadan this year.

Hence, our hotel home organized an Easter brunch on Sunday. My mom loves brunch, so we went there. It was wonderfully organized with everything that belongs to it with the egg-hunt and chocolates and presents for the kids. The beauty of it was that Muslim, Jews, Christian, Greek, Armenian, whoever didn’t matter, they were there with their kids. Everyone ate and drank, also alcohol if they so pleased, and laughed and played. There was beautiful live piano music in the background. Everyone left happy and full of positive energy in the late afternoon.

Then evening arrived. My mom and I were sitting in the lobby having some tea and chatting before going to bed. Then we started hearing the beautiful sound of Oud and some classical Turkish music in the background. It was towards 8pm, the food was ready at the restaurant with the Ramadan buffet this time. The muezzin called the prayer and the guests broke their fasting with joy.

For the first time in a long while I felt so peaceful in Istanbul. I was sent back to my childhood where this was our everyday life. It was nothing special. I had grown up in this little diverse world, which was not diverse to me. I never knew otherwise. Forty years later, this world is now so special that it is worth this blogpost.

I am so grateful to this hotel that they are still standing up for what used to be valuable for us. Surely, they also have their business in mind, nevertheless many other businesses choose not to be bold.

For the first time in a long while I felt so peaceful in Istanbul.

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