Thursday, June 6, 2013

Living in Taksim - Daily Report June 3, 2013

I've been away from my blog for far too long. This may be a good time to come back, to post my daily experiences during the most unusual times Istanbul has seen in my lifetime. These are just brief notes, nothing too exciting possibly, but as a resident of Taksim, I have a closer view on the park than most people...
I spent most of the day at home, trying to recover from the cold. The good thing about being at home is that I can give support by connecting people, posting news and translating when necessary. Internet/phone connection at the park is almost impossible.
But I really wanted to go out, so I went to the square for a bit in the evening. I walked around the park - some friends were going to bring supplies for the makeshift soup kitchen in the park, but the kitchen was so overloaded with everything, they asked me not to send anything. It was truly beautiful: everyone helping each other, not even a crowd, despite free food and beverages!
As I slowly made my way back home, we were hit by teargas. It was either the wind that brought it, or it was thrown from a helicopter as there was no cloud. I was wearing swim goggles and a scarf around my face, but it still burned. people were still chanting, each time a little more determined after being gassed... a young woman standing in the middle of the street sprayed my eyes with talcid and water, warned me against rubbing my face, and moved on to the next person. I was surrounded by "marginal extremists," among them a young man who was pissed off because he had come to have fun, and it was his luck to be gassed. Also an 8-year-old boy wearing a soccer jersey, with his mom (who was, incidentally, wearing a headscarf).
For those of you who don't know, the prime minister left for a 4-day trip to North Africa today. As soon as he left, all other politicians started making reasonable statements, and the mainstream media is reporting from the square. So we hope he'll never come back. I was worried last night, not sure what today would bring. I thought people might go back to work and not support the park anymore. But today I hear songs and chants from my window, people are happy and hopeful. We’ll see what tomorrow brings – I have more faith now.

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