“That day was colder, as I didn’t expect spring could be that cold.”
I looked at the sky when I came out from Taksim metro station. It was grey and a bit dark. Rain just stopped pouring and left some drizzle from up. The hustle of people was still the same like the first time I arrived in Istanbul. That evening I arrived a bit late. I had a slightly longer flight because of the weather. I had a very pleasant short trip in Cappadocia and expecting my last three days in Istanbul could be a perfect ending.
I said to myself that rain won’t stop me to enjoy every bits of the city. I had four beautiful days before flying to Cappadocia and I was so sure I would have a better time then.
A cold day made me wanted to enjoy a warm Turkish street food at Taksim Square. Standing on one corner with a warm beef kebab while watching random faces enjoying their days under the drizzle could be one of a simply happiness. I decided to buy one for 11TL and thought it would be enough to fill my stomach before I continued looking for the way to my hostel. I finished half of my kebab and continued walking again pretending that drizzling made the evening scene in Taksim looked like a movie.
The sky got darker and rain was started pouring again. I had to step faster so I won’t get wet on the street. Dragging my small suitcase under the rain on a busy Istiklal Caddesi wasn’t funny. What I had in mind that evening was I would find a soft bed with a thick white blanket in a warm room after I dropped my things in. Taking a bath with warm water under the shower, rested a bit and went out just to capture the evening scenes around. But all my imagination had disappeared instantly when I found that something serious was happening to me.
I couldn’t find my wallet when I wanted to pay my stay. I was so panic till I couldn’t talk for seconds. I couldn’t believe it. All my dollar, euro, naira, my debit cards, my green card, everything was inside. I felt so numb a bit.
The reception man suggested that I should go back to where I bought the kebab and tried to look around in case I got some lucks. Then after, I should go to the police station to get a report. Police? When I heard about it, my mind gone scarier. I was trying to calm myself down and started looking for solutions. My iPhone was about to die. I decided to charge it while I was thinking few people who I could ask helps to. Saf, my new friend that was on the conversation since I was on my way to Istanbul kept asking how I was doing. I couldn’t keep anything but told him what happened. He was already in Paris and a bit shocked, we talked on the phone for minutes. I kept trying to call one of my best friend in Indonesia, Mas Andhi to tell him too. It took minutes to finally speak with him on the phone after he was in another call. He told me to keep calm and started thinking clearly what to do. I was so confused, scared and tired in the same time. After I tried to calm myself down, I remembered the only person who could possibly help me in Istanbul was Hasan.
I had no choice but told him everything. I had to see him wherever he was. I had to sort my lost. When Hasan answered that we could meet in Taksim square I said it would be better to see him at his hostel. I vividly remember how messy I was under the drizzle and the wind. My mind thought about where I would sleep at and what would I eat with for my last two days in Istanbul. I had nothing but 8TL left in my pocket with the most important document, my passport.
When I finally met Hasan in the hostel reception I had hopes. I held his hands to ensure he was real. I looked at him with half of my sense on, just wanted to say thank you. I repeated the same thank you for times cause truly, I had no clue what to do if he wasn’t by my side.
“Azis is okay, it’s normal. Don’t panic. I’m here. The most important thing right now is you. You’re safe.”
I froze after Hasan spoke like that. Tho Hasan can barely speak English, his words was beyond enough to calm me down. I had no words to explain how lucky I was. He was true, I might be sad and confused cause I had no wallet, no cash, no cards, nothing. But I still had a genuinely kind person that I met only 1,5 hours after midnight, was helping me unconditionally in Istanbul.
I was still shocked but I had to get up.
My mind wasn’t complete when Hasan offered me to go to the nearest police station. I told him I was there before I met him but nobody speaks English. He told me to calm down then we went together to the police station. I couldn’t imagine if Hasan wasn’t around that evening. Who would help me to explain in Turkish what exactly had happened. Saf had told Hakan (he’s also my new friend, three of us met in Istanbul) if Hakan could explain to the police about the case though both of them were already back in Paris. Phone conversation could be my last option if Hasan wasn’t around tho I knew it would be more complicated.
Hasan and I were at the police station to explain what happened. I just looked at his face when he was explaining the case to the police trying to understand their language. “I’m dreaming I know. How could this happen to me” was still in my mind. Hasan kept calm me down. “Azis, it’s normal, OK”, and what I could say was only thank you.
10 minutes explanation at the police station, they instructed us to go back to the place where I surely thought my wallet was stolen. We met with two policemen there to get more information from me and from the cctv. I couldn’t stay focus cause I was froze, exhausted and ravenous that night. It was too bad. I almost said to Hasan to forget about my wallet. The only thing I thought about was my green card. Without the police report I would have a big problem in the immigration, definitely I would.
I really felt so bad dragging Hasan in my case. He wanted to enjoy his evening by watching a Turkish football match before, but there, he was with me, and two policemen. I kept saying “sorry Hasan, so sorry” till I couldn’t say anything again. I was so so sleepy and exhausted but I had to keep awake. The policemen were telling Hasan that they couldn’t see somebody stole my wallet from the cctv. I gave up, I didn’t care anymore with this case. I was just too tired, I just wanted to lay my body on the bed. Running from that freezing night. But Hasan told me to keep calm till we got the report. I couldn’t belive that after midnight we were still at the same place where I bought the kebab. Hasan said, “Azis, we will go back to the police station after the match. Is it okay for you?”
I looked at the wall clock, it showed to 1am. Right after people were cheering up for the winning team, I and Hasan went back to the police station. Our second visit was different. That time we finally entered the police room painted in white, with the room heater that made us warmer. After one policeman asked all the details he needed, and Turkish-English translation in between, 1o minutes later I got the police report. I smiled to Hasan with another thank you. If I had no one like him who speaks Turkish and French fluently after my lost there, in Istanbul, I couldn’t imagine how I would be.
We walked down through the same alley, back to Istiklal Caddesi, passing through the night market along Sahne Sk, till we arrived in my hostel somewhere at Kamer Hatun Caddesi. “You’re hungry Azis?”, “No, I’m fine Hasan, thanks.”
Sure, I was lying to him that I wasn’t ravenous. I sat on the couch while Hasan was trying to make a payment for my hostel.
“Hasan, I need to sell this tomorrow, I dont’ know where but I have to pay back your money”
“Azis you can pay when you are back okay, I’m still in Istanbul for 2 weeks before back to France. I will lend you this, is it OK?”
He gave me TL100 and I couldn’t speak words again. I was too tired. I was too messy. I packed my jacket, stored and double cross-checked my passport, and I was about ready to carry my suitcase up to my room.
I followed Hasan till we stood in front of my hostel. With a cigarette in his hand, we both smiled. I tried to do an instant recovering, I shook my head, and said thank you again to Hasan. “Azis you need to rest, you are okay? I need to sleep too. We will talk tomorrow?”
And I said goodnight when the clock showed 2am.
I had never imagined I would walk with Hasan almost midnight, in a very cold evening in spring that made me shiver, till we had a business in the police station when I was on holiday. Not even in my wildest dream. But I had no regret right now cause the drama that night gave me a huge lesson about the trip. About life, about kind human and about unconditional friendship. Hasan might think what he did to me was normal, to help somebody that needs help, as simple as that. But for me, he had no idea what he did was meant to me. I won’t take his kindness for granted, his help that night scored in my heart and my mind. It was a drama that made my trip unforgettable one.
P.S. I had to blur an iPhone selfie I took with Hasan. Hasan said on my last night in Turkey after we went to have a dinner that “No Azis, you can talk to me, but no picture.”. So to respect him, I had to blur his face here but in the same time, I want my memory with this kind human stays on this blog. I had time with Hasan after the drama, I’ll keep it till I have time to share it here. Half of this post was written on the plane, when I was on my way from Cairo to Lagos. I wrote it in my iPhone when I was remembering Hasan and all my new friends I met in Turkey. I arrived in Lagos yesterday afternoon with a little drama in Cairo Airport. I had nothing to regret for cause in the end, coming home safe and sound that matters. I’ll share more stories and photos from this trip very soon hopefully, right now, I’m back to a real life.