Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Travel funnies 2012 (5) – Cat City, Jetonsmatik and such…
Travel funnies 2012 (5) –
Cat City, Jetonsmatik and such…
One thing of note – Istanbul is cat city
Just outside our hotel – the slightly overstated Ottoman Imperial at the side wall of the Hagia Sophia mosque/church – a squad of local cats of various ages from 4 months to indeterminate, but nothing looking over 5 years, hangs out. They are not alone in feeling they own the place, have no fear of humans or anything else and no obvious reason to. Their only possible natural enemy, us, are at worst indifferent and best vigorously supportive, running feeding campaigns on the mosque enclosure wall tops or from concerned local eateries around town. There's only been three dogs in sight and they were moving on thru the square between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia at a moderate pace. Cats, on the other hand, snooze pretty much anywhere including a stool almost obstructing the passage of mosque visitors ambling into the Blue Mosque yesterday. And given a small chance they'll schmooze up to passers-by, when awake and feeling needy, with normal head-butting moves. Cat heaven or haven?
Background note: my understanding is that dogs are conceived as impure in Islam, hence the cat heaven milieu in Istanbul, perhaps! Google says: there's a history of cats in Istanbul. Even Obama scratched one on the Hagia Sophia pathways a year ago. That I would discourage, but then I'm probably an emerging animal disease vector kook…And, on the other hand, cats have a more promising history in Islam. Google "Aya Sophia Cats" for a sample of who we saw daily, including the mosque enclosure feeding grounds. We saw at least three dead ringers for members of our historical cat menagerie. Now that's genetic constancy for ya.
There's a quite well done tram network which joins the tourist centre of town with neighbouring touristy areas. It looks a bit French, an impression amplified yesterday on the other touristy side of the water (the Golden Horn) as we were gearing up for a return from an arvo at a Sufi "Whirling Dervishes" event. There in the access path to the tram stop was a large cabinet boldly labelled Jetonsmatik, which clanged my French bell with authority. A jeton is a token. So, our hosts have a token-mediated payment system, as did NYC for years in its massively less salubrious subway system
However, as you've been expecting, there's a hitch. The jeton cost is Turkish Lira 2 for a ride to anywhere on the line. TL come in 1 and 2 TL denominations. But, the TL2 jeton can only be bought with TL1 coins. As I was trying to follow the obvious path of using my TL2 coins unsuccessfully a guy came along and said clearly "Nyet" when I held it up helplessly. Thank gods for other foreigners. They often have an intuitive understanding of gaps locals can never perceive.
"620 kgs gods"
A nice language twist. The Danes are just a few breaths away from English in many ways, and here's one. Looking at the guidelines for usage on the door of our hotel lift in Copenhagen I noted daily the limit of 8 persons but not the alternative 620kgs gods limit until the last day of 5. I'm still wondering about the weight of gods given the known weight of a soul (21 grams isn't it?). Or, how many gods does it take to make a good? Or goods to make a god? Eight guys or girls my size would sink the thing, being neither gods nor goods.