We landed in Istanbul somewhere around half past ten, just after the Turkish Airlines flight from Astana and beside the flight from Beirut. The passport queue filled up quickly and moved slowly, and under the low ceiling, I could try to guess where people were from by their passport, by their face, by small details I wouldn't otherwise pay attention to. After passing through JFK, I made a few notes in my journal:
The concourse had an almost claustrophobic, almost surreal quality to it. A liminal space, maybe - very much a space of transition, this kind of dissolving of national boundaries, and yet almost paradoxically it's a much more self-conscious performance of national identity... There's the whole question of the passport and its kind of performance, but its imbrication within a whole set of legal frameworks, state systems, and so on.
And I think arriving in Turkey had something of the same dimension - a jostling nationalism, cheek-by-jowl, the same and then dramatically different when we present our passports.
Later, on the drive to Üsküdar, a sudden traffic jam. We worked our way slowly through the press of cars until we made it to the front: A small yellow truck had overturned, and its cargo of watermelons was strewn across the road. Something of the color and the heat, red and deep green against the black, the haze of summer over the Haliç, and the driver - bandaged on one arm, but in one piece - leaning against the guard rail giving his story to the police.