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Every city is important. Some cities are more important. by bayripley
09/04/2010, 00:47
Filed under: the city | Tags:

I am a thief and George Orwell would not mind. The problem is I don’t know how to start if not like above. This article is about the cities, the cities that are a little bit more important than others.

As a Smyrnian, I know the consequences of such an article, but here I come with all the experiences of a privileged city, under the disturbing shadow of betrayal. Why is Istanbul better than Izmir? And why do I admit that at that age of my life?

Magnificent landscape, mind-blowing historical cluster, an imperial city culture are side by side the moribund infrastructure, endless traffic jams, and coarse way of life. “This is Istanbul, welcome honey, enjoy, but admit it”: This beauty and mutual understanding are not for free, you have to pay for it—financially and emotionally. On the other hand, Izmir is the self-regenerating story of a wonderful climate, politically unified habitants, and mostly 2-hours ride to best touristic spots of Southeastern Europe. As a plus, infrastructure is better, traffic jams are more humane, and life is easy and slow and less crowded. The city is not ugly, unbearably hot in summers but very friendly in winters, and Kordon always promises a very romantic sunset. Your money is still at your pocket, and the girls are always very beautiful as boys are always very self-confident.  So, what makes Istanbul better, especially according to a Smyrnan?

Well, one thing: it is the capacity of not-letting-go. You can always run away from Izmir, it does not mind. It always makes fun of you, it kinda mocks you for your thirst for difference, but it never calls you back. It is materialistic. If you leave the city, you leave it for sure. You think about it for a very short time, and you find it not drastically modified after your long runaways. It is always there, not insisting, minding its own business.

However, although Istanbul has that cool attitude of indifference, Istanbul knows black magic. Istanbul does not collapse because you leave it. You personally collapse because you chose another city over Istanbul. Your urge to return and soak yourself in Rakı across the view never stops haunting you when you are away. You think about the city all the time, you leave it to come back. You know that it will change a lot when you are away, and your reintegration will not be easy at all. You will bear the results of your betrayal.

Izmir is nice, Istanbul is just the best!

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3 Comments so far
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did you know that a research on why germans consider istanbul as “the coolest city” is being planned by a researcher in munih university at the moment?

the problem with izmir though, is that the city is a stubborn 60-year-old person. even young people living there are 60 years old. you are not able to change anything, not a tiny little bit. so, “nice” then? “bearable” I would say instead.

Comment by votefordeniz

oh lord, great research! I would love to contribute to it, despite my lack of academic German!
bearable is kind of harsh, but not so wrong. however, it’s still nice. for the memory of good old days, i’d say.

Comment by bayripley

[…] to the imperial city in my personal universe of signifiers. It was tough, and full of remorse. I had spoken big when I talked about “never leaving Istanbul/Istanbul never leaving me”. My relation with the […]

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