“It’s been raining since morning today.
Dimmed light, silent eve, it reminds me of someone I’ve been missing for past few days. It’s my friend, Hasan…”
I was running a bit when Hakan and Saf dropped me at Taksim Square. The rain was pouring right after I came out of the taxi. I couldn’t just walk towards my hostel so I stood inside the entrance of Taksim Station. The air was cold, for me, it was too cold.
I smiled. I promised to myself that I had to enjoy everything from that journey. The rain made me frozen for a sec, but my smile that eve was still bright.
I was already inside my hostel. I managed my breath. I couldn’t even lie that I was exhausted, very. I sat on the couch at the reception with few Krispy Kreme left. “Hey, I think there is a birthday party going on upstairs. You wanna check it out?”.
I just smiled. I smiled at the guy at the reception who told me about the event upstairs while I was trying to warm myself. Rain in spring was something else. At first, I had no interest to see what was going on. I could hear some giggles, boisterous waves of laughter. What I truly needed were a bed, pillows and blanket cause I had to go to the airport to catch my flight to Cappadocia the next day.
Something came in my mind.
I remembered how excited I was when I met a person in Tokyo that later became one of my best friends. You know, random people, random stories, random moments that probably could only be found if you stay in the hostel. I knew that feeling. It was gone for the past three days since I arrived in Istanbul. My mind said no yet my heart said yes. So I went inside the lift and pressed 6.
I was a bit surprised when the lift doors were opened. Something jumped in my mind like, “Oh no, I’m too old for this.”. As far as I could see they were mostly teenagers. It was a cultural night kind of. Something interesting was happening. Alcohols, spirits, snacks, flags, you know, when different people from all over the world were in the same room and made a midnight party. I just stood and felt awkward a bit. I wish I knew it like hours before, at least I would manage myself among them.
Then, I chose to see what I could see at the terrace.
It was two minutes before midnight. I thought I was nuts pretending the air wasn’t that cold outside. It was fucking freezing. There were two people smoking cigarettes. I bet they were European although I wasn’t that sure.
I stood and breathed. It was so serene I might say. I could even remember the smell after the rain. I felt frozen yet blessed at 12.10 AM. I sat on one cushion that was a bit soppy after I managed to take a picture of the sky with my iPhone. I just wanted to feel the night. I just wanted to ensure that I was still under the same sky but in another part of the world, far away from home. I couldn’t stop smiling to the sky.
“Then someone came, and offered me a cigarette.”
He sat by my side. With a cigarette in his hand, we acquainted ourselves. His name is Hasan, Hasan Tasci. My cheesiness came out instantly. “Oh no! you were born in France! Hasan, I met with two guys also from Paris!” (you know me, I have a very high cheesiness level, esp if you mention about Paris or France, so please don’t judge me). I felt nasty to myself as I remembered. I know, but I wanted to become who I am. Paris, croissant, what else again that could turn me into the cheesiest person on earth?
“Hasan, you know what, I just want to sit down at one cafe with a warm croissant and a cup of cappuccino, in Paris”. The same sentence I repeat every time I dream about one fine day in Paris. I said the same to Hasan. Hasan was smiling when he heard it. We sat closely cause he barely speaks English. When I asked and answered in English, he looked a bit puzzled. Few times I had to wide my ears opened when he spoke. Sometimes I found it a bit funny when I knew what he meant to say but took for minutes arranging words to become a sentence. Hasan is Turkish by blood but born in France. He is French, speaks French and Turkish fluently. Although a few times I apologized when I spoke too fast he was kinda fine. “That’s okay Azis, I want to exercise my English. I’m happy to hear you speak English”.
Oh, I also said, “Like me when I hear you speak Hasan, I’m dying to be able to speak French!”.
In fact, I just know some, “Merci, bonjour, de rien, what else again? je vais très bien?”
“Azis, I can pack croissants for you when I’m back in France and fly them to Lagos.”
I was laughing. He was too funny. I wanted to say, “No no, send me a ticket to Paris and I’ll eat my fresh French croissant”. It was a crap if I said so, no, I’m not that bad. I shook Hasan’s hand and said “We will see in Paris.” with some giggles.
“It’s time to sleep Azis.”
“I know! I wish we had more time to share stories about Paris, haha, but I also need to rest Hasan, I have to go to the airport to Cappadocia by 8.”. Hasan said he was staying at that hostel for 7 days, but that morning was my last day. I didn’t want to make the same mistake like what I did in Kyoto. I asked his number but he couldn’t remember his French number. Hasan gave his email instead. “Are you on Facebook?.”, he asked. “Yeah sure, but it’s been a while I do not open my account, I just feel Facebook is so boring these days.”. He let me typed my account on Facebook so he could add mine to his list. That was the only way we could connect after all. “I’ll let you know if I come back from Cappadocia, we can find Turkish coffee and continue our stories.”
The second time I met Hasan was late night after the drama. I flew from Kayseri with a positive mind that my last two days in Istanbul would be unforgettable. It was unforgettable, indeed. In so many ways.
An evening with someone kind named Hasan, an evening I won’t forget.
21st April 2017. 9.43PM
In a cold evening on my last night in Istanbul, I came to where Hasan stayed after I found an adaptor for my iPhone. I sat on the same couch. I felt warmer inside. My Zara couldn’t even help me fighting the weather. Hasan came. I told him that somebody had sent me $160.
“Wait a minute Azis, let me Google it. Maybe there are some WU open by this time. Oh there is, but this is quite far”. I looked at Hasan and said, “No, don’t worry. This is late. How about tomorrow?”
“I’m working tomorrow till 3PM on Saturday. When is your flight? How about if I take the money when I’m on my way to work”. When he said that, I thought the same thing like the first time I met him. This man is kind-hearted. Genuinely kind. He just helped somebody he knew for only 1,5 hours, sincerely.
“Have you eaten, Azis? Follow me, I’ll take you to find Turkish tea. It’s good for this kind of weather.”. I laughed, “I have Hasan, you know, cheap KFC.”. I mean, I had to manage Turkish Lira so no fancy dinner for myself. I followed Hasan when he stepped outside. “Hurry up Azis, it’s windy. You are not feeling it?”. Sure, wish you knew how I ran with my hands crossed. It was very cold. Hasan and I went to the park near Taksim Square. He was laughing at me, “Azis, what is your problem, you took cold water in a cold weather like this.”, oh come on, I was thirsty. “You know how to use the water heater in the hostel? seems like it is not working.”, Hasan asked and I answered, “You have to wait for minutes before you stand under the shower. It’s bad but it will work.”
We arrived at one place like a restaurant. It was quite. I was so sure we came at the wrong time when they had closed. Hasan told me they have a very good Turkish tea. I saw number 10 on my wrist watch. I told Hasan, what was his next plan. He said he only wanted some light food for his dinner. We both headed to İstiklal Caddesi but I stopped my steps for a sec when I saw a beautiful bridge from that park. Lights that shaped the bridge could be seen from where I stood. On our way, I thought about something. Perhaps, the essence of traveling isn’t the joy of relaxation where we visit somewhere new, when we take a break from our busy life. But the opportunity when we can learn to know new people. When we meet with kind people and become friends. When they just come to our life with pure kindness when we are in a place far away from home.
Losing my personal thing when in Istanbul might be the one that lead me to learn more when I met Hasan.
Hasan sat with some fried chickens at the same place where I had my dinner earlier. It wasn’t that long till I asked something and he replied, “No Azis, you can talk to me but no picture.”. I completely understood. Not everyone loves having pictures of themselves. Hasan is among. Altough I still expected he changed his mind cause you know, photograph is the only way to freeze a moment that gone forever.
22nd April 2017. 4.23PM
I ran a bit to meet Hasan on my last day in Istanbul. I had packed all my things and counted how much time left to see Hasan. There is one WU near the hostel. I couldn’t believe that the time to say goodbye to Turkey had come in end. I waited Hasan at the same place. On the same couch, at the same space.
I thought I would have time to sit with cups of coffee then. It was just happened so swift. Hasan said he had an appointment to see his friend. “Come on Azis, let’s take the money!”, he said. We were in hurry. It was just minutes after he came back from his internship at one production house in Istanbul.
I sat beside him when he signed the letter to withdraw the money. I looked at Hasan and said to myself, “I wish we had time, I just want to treat you with a lunch as a thank you Hasan.”. He made a joke to me why I put his name as a receiver. I said the truth, that was my first time accepted money thru WU. I thought we must have an account but as simple as it was, I gave him an honest answer. I changed $30 to Turkish Lira in case on my way to the airport, I stopped to grab some fridge magnets.
I sat with Hasan before we left WU. I thanked again and again for what he did to me. For that night, for the money he lent me, for the friendship. I had faith in what I saw that day and I had made a promise before I met Hasan for the last time. I made a promise that I had to give him something. I wrote a long sentence in my iPhone, he understood when he read French. “Please do take this.”, Hasan was quite. He wrote in French and translated to English, we did it to ease what we wanted to say.
“Azis, I just helped you cause you needed. I would definetely call you if I had the same problem if I were in Lagos. I don’t want to take this if this is expensive. Look Azis, I’m not wearing any.”
I begged Hasan to keep it for me so I will remember his kindness.
He said he would receive it as souvenir. “Azis, if you are in Paris, I’ll be the one that pay your croissant and cappuccino, deal?”, Hasan smiled. My smile was ear to ear. I was pleased when Hasan accepted the gift. For me, it was the simplest thing I could only do that day to express how grateful I was for everything. My smile became brighter when I finally saw Hasan on my iPhone’s screen for a selfie. “I don’t mind but we take together.”, Hasan surprised me when he changed his mind. “Hasan, see the background is perfect, haha, Western Union, I’ll remember you every time I see WU.”, though it was only one picture but it was enough to end my trip with gratitude.
Before I left, I erased all maudlin vibes and hugged someone kind-hearted who I met only 1,5 hours, who accompanied me when I had a big problem in somewhere far from home. Someone who I learnt from that in this world, we will always have a destiny to meet kind people.
For a reason.
See you in Paris, mon frère.