Sonntag, 26. April 2020

Istanbul: News from the neighborhood

Turkey has been in the news for announcing curfew on short notice and instrumentalizing the pandemic situation for political campaigning. But how do people deal with the situation in their everyday lives? I am in contact with friends who live there or who traveled home to their families although they reside in Berlin. This blog entry is going to be a personal one to give an impression of how people in their twenties and thirties perceive the current situation in the metropole.

Istanbul is vibrant, pulsating and crowded, but due to quarantine and partial curfew people rather stay at home if they don't have to go out.  Of course some still have to go to work, therefore public transportation is still used by some. However people over 65 and under 20 are forced to stay at home completely. Death numbers are quite low (Turkey: 2,706 compared to Germany: 5,877*) and although the Turkish Gouvernement takes a secular approach to face the crisis (e.g. by closing mosques and banning funerals for those who died because of the desease) Turkish citizens don't oppose those measurements.

Families and friends of mine seem to be quite careful too, they don't go running at the seaside anymore, they wear their masks and don't bother going out. Work is done remotely and like in Germany teaching is done online now. When a new curfew is coming and someone is lucky enough to have a balcony they buy meat to make a barbecue. Many are not that lucky to live in spacious apartments though. One of my friends lives in a small place and the owner of the house decided to do some construction work on the house. Every day they start to work early until late - it is hard to imagine what kind of feeling of being captured it creates when you have to withstand noise in your own four walls.

Last week it was the day of National Sovereignity and Children's day, a public holiday commemorating the foundation of the Great National Assembly of Turkey on 23rd of April 2020. Atatürk devoted the day to all children in the world. People usually celebrate the day and children have ceremonies at schools, sometimes they even gather in a stadium for making the day a festive event. This year the street of my friend united by clapping from their balconies and painting posters (see foto).

Another example for the handling of Covid-19 is the funny idea to make fast-food, which looks like the virus (see foto). For me the way  German media reports about the situation in Turkey seems to be often one-sided, emphasizing failing politics and I rarely see articles about situations of humanity and the effect the virus has on lifestyles. A burger in corona-form? I can not imagine many people here having enough humor to come up with something like that.

*Berliner Morgenpost. 2020. Coronavirus: Interaktive Karte Zeigt Aktuelle Zahl Der Corona-Infektionen In Deutschland, Europa Und Weltweit. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 April 2020].

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