An unsafe evening on the street of Istanbul

It was a relaxing evening for us, walking on the streets of Taksim Square, in the beautiful country Istanbul; 4th August 2018. We were just soaking in the impressions of that night, when we got robbed by few miscreants.  

Taksim Square

Taksim Square is beautiful, unique in nature and can be said as a mysterious market place in Istanbul. Mostly known for its night life, bars, pubs, street foods, restaurants, display of exceptional exhibitory talents and arts of the people. But historically, it is known for the massacre happened on leftist demonstration on the International Labours’ Day 1st May 1977. Nearly 40 people died and hundreds were injured in the massacre.

We were robbed our dollars; $150, nearly in Indian currency Rs 11,000/-. We got shocked and standstill, as we couldn’t imagine a fraud among those beautiful people. But, like almost in all the major tourist destinations of the world, Taksim Square is also a safe heaven for the pick-pocketers, fraudsters, thief and other miscreants. 

The Night Life

In Turkey the sun sets at 9 PM. We were roaming around the streets, looking at the varieties of the Night life there. The street restaurants displaying and serving mouth watering Turkish cuisines. Open sky tea stalls with hookas in every stall. The ladies with Burkha, but still puffing the hooka and cigarettes.

A glass of Turkish Tea

Singers on street

There were street singers singing Turkish songs and prayers with guitars and traditional instruments. People gathered around the singers and chorus with them, others trying to dance with their rhythm. While few others were lying over the grass and gazing at the stars.

Arts and talents

There were stalls displaying various stocks; the jewelries, handlooms and handicrafts showpieces, books, utensils, dresses and clothes, the list goes on. 

On one side there was a counter displaying paper board written on it, “Don’t bargain, I am doing caricature, not selling pieces of paper.” You stand by him and he would caricature you with no time. It was amazing to see his work, from the display it could be imagined how much respect he had for his art.

Wind of Marmara

There were fruits and sweets sellers exhibiting smartly to appeal the customers. Wine shops, discos and bars, also a mini park where the lovely children were playing.

And the wind coming from the Marmara sea made the evening more addictive. Definitely no one could imagine that here right in this place few might be eyeing and plotting a smart plan to hunt him. 

Marmara Sea

The Taxi Stand in Taksim Square

It was about 11 o’clock at night when we thought of coming back to our hotel. But in Istanbul it was just a mid evening.

We moved to the taxi parking, and one person asked us about our destination. We showed the card of our hotel and then he called a taxi.

The Deal

The person made a 20 Lira (Turkish currency) deal for the drop by the taxi at our destination. We found it a good deal as we came there paying the same amount of fare. 

Another man

As we agreed they asked us to sit in the car and so we did. By that time another person came to the driver’s window, and the driver asked us to pay the fare to him. The man was the controller of the taxi stand, as we were told by the driver.

Damage Note

I took the currency notes from my pocket and passed on to the driver. Driver refused to accept the notes inciting that the notes had few damages on the corners. And he refused each and every notes I gave, finding the same excuse. He found damages in all the notes.

Doubling the Fare

I gave him two new notes of 10 Lira. Then he told us that we needed to pay him another 20 Lira @per head, which was not in fact the deal. That way they developed the trap as they had the plan to make us confused. They used the language barrier as their weapon.

Now the driver asked us to pay in Dollar. Asking that he put his hand in my wallet and took out 150 dollars. With an instant trick he passed the dollars to the person standing on his window side.

We were shocked by his action and argued with him and questioned, why he took out the dollars from my wallet. Instead the driver shouted at us and said, he didn’t.

Another twist

Two or three persons came to us asking, ‘what happened brother?’ Without knowing anything we tried explaining to them, and at that moment a couple came from nowhere and hired the taxi for themselves. We were like hypnotized, left the seats for the couple, and with no time the taxi vanished with the couple from our sights.

The whole drama was so quick that we couldn’t sense what had happened. The other persons then asked us if we noted the number of the taxi. With the same sentence he announced, “there are 2000 taxis in Istanbul and no one know each other.”

That indeed was the verdict for us given by them making us understand that they were done with us. We totally lost our sense with that quick and instant happening. Everyone, the man who dealt with the taxi, the man standing at the driver seat and the couple, was a part of that entire plan. We were hunted.

Next day

In the morning we shared our experiences with our other fellow Indian travelers in the Hotel. And astonishingly, one by one almost everyone stared to share their hunted stories in the Taksim Square. Their stories were found more interesting and tactful than us.
 

Robber’s Strategy

In every cases either they snatched or asked for the exchanged currency either in Dollar or Lira. What I observed; they didn’t take out or snatch the whole wallet. This was their another strategy so that we made no shout for help and kept ourselves limited only with arguments like, ‘whether or not.’
 

Fool

We were angry, but as everyone, one by one, disclosed their experiences at the Square, we laughed at each other with the console to ourselves that we were not only the fool, there were others too. And felt some mental relief saying to each other that, “we are the same boat brothers.” 
 

A precautionary note

Don’t hire the taxi with no light inside, ours was that kind of and everything happened in the dim light.
 
 

Few Information about Istanbul

Despite the experience we had in Taksim Square, I must say I love Istanbul for its beauty and the people I interacted.
 

Istanbul

Istanbul, formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is  a beautiful city in Turkey that extends to both Europe and Asia straddling the Bosphorous strait. For nearly 2500 years the city had been ruled by different Emperors from Roman, Ottoman, Latin, Byzantine from time to time and it carries their signatures through several wonder monuments  like Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Princess’ islands, Grand Bazaar and many. The Turkish tea and Turkish delights are equally world famous. 

Bosphorous Strait

To the south of it, is the Marmara Sea and to the north the Black Sea, and the watercourse that connects these two seas across Istanbul is the Bosphorous strait.

Bosphorous strait divides the beautiful city of Istanbul to fall apart in both the continents Europe and Asia. Istanbul has been one of the most commercially important cities of the world, as the seaport is the closest one to both Asia and Europe. 

Sea Port in Bosphorous

Turkish People

The Turkish are liberal in lifestyle, contrary to the common perception of a Muslim country, with 95% of the population being Muslim and rest 5% is constituted by Jews, Roman, Christian, Hindu and other religions. And in physical look; they are more gorgeous and beautiful. 

There are a lot to share about this pleasant and alluring City; from its past Sultans to present day generation on a traveler’s note, that I might be sharing later.

Grand Bazaar

When you are in Istanbul, you can’t avoid these two places: Taksim Square and centuries old Grand Bazaar. But mind it, these are the safe heavens for the miscreants. So be careful in Taksim Square while enjoying the evening or night and in Grand Bazaar during your shopping.

Grand Bazaar is considered as the world’s oldest shopping mall dated back to 1455/56 AD, erected initially for the trading of textiles and jewels by the Sultan Mehmed II. During Ottoman era it was the center of commerce and finance.

It is also one of the largest covered market in the world with nearly 4000 shops and 61 streets inside it. Grand Bazaar is occupying  a land area of nearly 7.58 acre. 

Shop inside the Grand Bazaar
Turkish Delight

Most visited Tourist Place

The recorded numbers of daily visitors surprisingly happens to be 250000 to 50000, and even in 2014 Grand Bazaar was listed no. 1 among the most visited tourist places with a record number of 91,250,000 annual visitors. 

Near Spice Market

How I describe

My capacity to describe something beautiful/exceptional is too limited. Once entered in to the Bazaar, it is a different world under a single concrete roof. People from all across the continents are found to be bargaining, purchasing and experiencing the taste of various kinds of Turkish delights.  Visitors look  at each other with crazy eyes and thoughts.

Different uttering words can be heard at the same place and moment, and if you are inside a shop to buy something it is more experiencing. Everywhere there is noisy flow, but still you can see someone doing film shooting or video shooting. Seeing the varieties of shops it feels like all the colors of the world are gathering here to impress the human.   

Also Read II Manmara Sea, Princes’ Island: Buyukada II


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Regards


Dipmoina Dowarah 

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