Asia to Europe

Asia to Europe

Anti-Erdogan protesters load onto ferryboats that will take them across the Bosphorus to the European side of Istanbul.

Nearly a week after the police had tear gassed the non-violent protesters enthusiasm was just gaining momentum among the protesters. Towards the late afternoon, crowds would gather, singing and chanting as they prepared to load the boats from Kadikoy on the Asian side to Taksim on the European side. The aging ferryboats only hold so many, so most would sit through a number of boats going by to finally load on. The people on the arriving boats would greet the crowds waiting to embark with applause, cheers and chants of their own. When the ferryboat hits the side of the dock, there is a minute where the dockworkers must secure the boat to the solid poles. During this delay, each side just applauded each other, in a kind of emotional solidarity I had never encountered from people from so many varied walks of life. Within the secular parts of Istanbul, basically everyone was willing to show their support for the protest movement and their distaste of President Erdogan. Boat after boat would depart fully loaded with singing crowds, old people waving their hats and teenage boys practically beating each other up out of love and excitement as they held onto each other, as is a Turkish custom.

It’s very difficult to describe these types of moments to someone who hasn’t experienced it. To sound gushingly overly romantic, for just a second, suddenly you’re not alone. You’re not a single entity, fighting against the waves and the crowd. For just a second, you and all of these strangers see truth; these strangers are your brothers and sisters, they’re the same as you, they have the same wants and fears, needs, insecurities, frustrations and hopes. Suddenly you’re together in this momentary congealing and so many of those problems you’ve been told your whole life are misfires and chemical imbalances in your own brain to a world that’s the best it can be just slip away. Temporarily, you’re part of a huge varied mass of ¬†determined and passionate people who are sick of a government telling them what to do, what to believe, what is acceptable and you know you’re on the side of something right and admirable. It’s hard to define exactly what it is in those temporary moments of wholeness but it has something to do with thousands of humans momentarily not expending their energy against each other, but with each other against a powerful authoritative force that claims omnipotence. For a little while, you’re sort of free.

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