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 Outside, looking in - Miscellaneous Debris – Archive

Outside, looking in

בקטגוריות: Uncategorized

18 Apr 2008

Japanese tour guides are in something of a pickle in this Mediterranean weather. It’s too hot an dry for rain, but what will they raise up in the air to lead their group but an umbrella?

Well, they find a way. Sometimes they carry an umbrella anyway. Sometimes they find substitutes. Long sticks with something eye-catching at the end, like a flag, or a styrofoam finger, or a flashing light. They manage.

I would have liked their umbrella-substitutes to be umbrella-shaped styrofoam blobs just so I can have a nice signifier/signified intertextual insight here, but it seems that semiotics is not a part of the curriculum for Japanese tour guides.


Istanbul of is full of Byzantine churches-turned-mosques, and outside the bigger ones you can find the usual bustle of street vendors selling food, T-shirts, and souvenirs. Nothing seems out of place with tiles, postcards and shirts depicting Christian saints, like you can find in Greece and Cyprus, until you remember that you’re in a Muslim country.


The salesmen in Istanbul are shameless, as befits a city overrun by tourists for over a thousand years. They call to you from storefronts and stalls. They shake your hand unannounced to pull you in. Tour guides mix in with the crowds, offering their services to a captive audience. A man yells out his ice-cream wares, another walks around the market with three shoe-boxes of brand new Reeboks, felloffthebackofatruck. In the tulip gardens in front of the Blue Mosque, a man sits and smokes behind an upturned crate on top of which he sells batteries, film and SD memory cards from inside an old suitcase. The city sells. The city buys.

2 תגובות על Outside, looking in



18 בApril, 2008 בשעה 18:40

Has anyone tried to sell you a carpet yet? It’s not Istanbul if they don’t.
Love your travel writing.



18 בApril, 2008 בשעה 21:09

Has someone tried to sell me a carpet? Has SOMEONE tried to sell me a carpet?
The whole damn city and their brother-in-law has tried to sell me a carpet. Or a leather jacket. Or a watch.
I would be insulted if they didn’t.
Oh, and thanks.

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