Chronicle of Istanbul, where going to work is sometimes a trip to the past


under everything, in the engine roombelow water level, roar of engines, heat and not a window, Nurettin is jealous. It’s unfair, he says laughing, because it’s the heart of this boator better, the cardiologist, the one who keeps it afloat, but the protagonist is always the captainthe one above.

I’m the most important person on this ferry. I control your insides. But the captain gets all the credit, even if he’s just steering. Right, left and nothing else & rdquor ;, Nurettin complains loudly. If he did it in a low voice, the roar of the engines would take over his words.

Nurettin is a cardiologist and ship’s doctor, and his patient for five years is “Fatih”one of dozens of ferries that, like ants following their marked route, swarm and travel the bosphorus straitwhat part of town Istanbul half. Your work is necessary: ​​in a city ​​of 17 million inhabitants, roads, subways and buses are not enough for everyone to get to work. Some, the luckiest, go to work by boat.

On this day in early December, the “Fatih” sails lazily through the Bosphorus, easily dodging small fishing boats and huge freighters. The following route is the one that runs through the neighborhoods of Besiktas Yes Kadikoy. Twenty minutes each way.

On the bridge, the captain laughs. “Who told you that? With this, only the address… Tell me his name and we will fix it quickly“, says Ahmet while moving lightly, a little drowsily, the order of ‘Fatih’. “No, but seriously, here we all do our part, and without each other, our work wouldn’t work. For us, it’s a pride to be able contribute to the functioning of the whole city, get people to work. And what’s more, it’s one of the best jobs in the world. From up there, the views are incredible. You get used to it, you don’t look so much anymore, but it’s incredible, and sometimes I start to look around me, to see where this cargo is going, where this cargo is coming from, ”says Captain Ahmet.

One floor below Sign He doesn’t have as much time to look out the window. Your customers wait, queue, sometimes jostle you. She’s going full steam ahead, now filling the glasses, now getting paid, now cleaning the coffee pot. Sena is responsible, now yes, for the heart of ‘Fatih’: his Cafeteria. “I don’t know about the ship, but about the workers, we are the most important. We are the ones who drug them every morning with coffee,” says Sena.

“I love this job, and I ended up meeting a lot of people who go to work on the boat every morning and since I already know what time they’re going to get on, I’m already making a toast and a coffee so that it’s ready just when they come up,” he explains. thousand-year-old buildings and century-old minarets of the historical peninsula of the city“Sometimes I see the dolphins. One day I could even see a gasket. Who knows where it would come from…”.

Back to the past

For ‘Fatih’, his companions and ancestors on the road, everything changed in 1973. That year, the first bosphorus bridgewhich united Asia Yes Europe for the first time and created new direct competition with ferries.

“The journey we make by boat is no longer so crucial for the city, because before there was no other way to cross the Bosphorus remembers Captain Ahmet. Now there are the bridges [hay tres], the metro and the tunnel. We have become one means of transport something more nostalgic. The ferry is almost never completely full; before it was impossible to sit”.

It’s already late, the sun is setting and dozens of people crowd the port to enter the ‘Fatih’ and go home. Canan and his two companions they get ready: them, guitar and bass drum in hand; she, a microphone, the loudspeaker and, at her feet, a basket with banknotes and coins. “Welcome all aboard, and we wish you a good trip.& rdquor ;, said Canan before starting. Many turn to listen; some pull out their phones to record the views with background music.

“We don’t work in the morning because people are going to work and we don’t want to disturb either, but in the afternoon, many people like to listen to music. When people return home, we enhance their trip. We had a good time, and we participated in creating this idea of ​​nostalgia on boat trips”, explains the singer.

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“We can do 20 minute concerts in which we know that the people sitting in front of us are going to have to listen to us the whole way,” Canan says of his “forced” concerts. “So you make a lot more money on the ferries than anywhere else. But we don’t do all this for the money, do we? we do it because we like it “, he says.

It is already dark and the passengers leave the ship. Canan and his companions thank those who give them money. The catwalk descends, the door opens, and all the travelers pour out. For them, the day is over; al ‘Fatih’, however, still have several continents to connect.

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