I was marveling the Sirkeci train station, once the final destination of the Orient Express train from Paris. It is located on the tip of Istanbul's historic peninsula next to the Golden Horn bay.
It is a touristy place today, with many old style boutique hotels for passengers from the days gone by, as the station is hardly used anymore.
Five times a day the mu'azzins call for prayers from minarets that are all around, and they are synchronized and don’t shout over each other.
Up to four minarets around a mosque mean it was founded by a regular Pasha (still country’s elite), more than four of them means it was paid for by the royal family. It’s also reflected in the size of the mosque, in a big way.
The Muslims here coexist with Christians and Jews – there are more than 2200 active mosques, but also active churches and synagogues.
Then something stroke me in the Blue Mosque – the Islamic religion is full of symbols, and the great ones relate to flowers.
God, the Creator is symbolized by a tulip – single, strong stem, great beauty on top. When praying, the position on the carpet puts the tulip under your heart.
The prophet Mohamed is symbolized by a rose and it’s scent.
There are no paintings in a mosque, there is no personification of God as a human, but there are great flower displays in the city, especially in the spring. God is in the beauty of nature.
It’s an interesting place, Istanbul – by far most powerful city in Turkey, but not the capital, which is Ankara, five hours drive east, into Asia.
The choice is easy to understand – Istanbul lies on both sides of the Bosporus strait, an ultra important waterway, and it has bridges connecting Europe with Asia. In case of any conflict it will be an immediate target, so it’s not wise to locate vital government functions there.
Istanbul is a mix of East and West, sometimes not easy to navigate, but intoxicating still, with a good vibe. I liked it.
The imams, who lead the prayers, are all men, not different from the Christian religion.
I have realized why there never would be a female pope, by the way.
Women always find things and men loose things.
Men lost the Holy Grail some centuries ago, and the last thing you want is a woman pope opening a cupboard somewhere in the Vatican and saying – “here it is!”
You can see that I have been thinking lately.
Constantinople, as the city was called before, was conquered by Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire in 1453, after a vicious 55 days battle. To be fair, Mehmed II and his army were remarkably restrained in their handling of affairs after the fall of the city.
For Europe, the exodus of many Greek scholars to Italy as a result of this event marked the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance.
Guess its a kind of win-win for all of us.
Snapping back to the current day, this piece of news has caught my attention lately,
Just can’t sit, no?
The switch to electric cars is taking its toll on luxury automakers. Mercedes announced it will slash more than a 1,000 jobs, including 10% of management, in efforts to cut $1.1 billion in costs by 2022.
EVs have yet to generate big sales volumes for premium manufacturers, per The Wall Street Journal (translation – there is no money in making them even though EVs require less components). Daimler’s new chief said efforts to meet tougher fuel EU efficiency standards are also likely to dent profits for two years.
How did he come up with two years time frame is not immediately clear.
But more important is what was left unsaid. If Daimler is struggling, Audi and BMW are too – they all operate in the same reality.
Call it a triumph of EU bureaucrats over business sense, killing us slowly.
For now – life will find its way.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler