Waking Istanbul

I’ve been up early several times this trip, be it from jet lag or simply an unfamiliar setting. But a 5:45 start is not wholly uncommon. It’s been cool to be up and about as the city around me wakes up.

It starts early, with the morning call to prayer (or the azan) around 5:45 or 6am. Depending on where I’ve been that’s been as few as two voices in a call and response or innumerable layering on top of another. It’s haunting and beautiful to hear the stillness broken by the chants. The basic idea behind the chant is to call Muslims to prayer and the text has reminders of the power and beauty of Allah as well as the instruction to begin praying.  In the first call of the day, the line ‘prayer is better than sleep’ is included.

As the last of the call fades the city begins to rise. Trucks beep their way backwards, men shout instructions, metal shop front covers rattle up, and seagulls bicker through the air. And somewhere in the midst of all that the sun has crept up. And the day begins.

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