Tulips, Tourists, and the Syrian Refugees

Godspeed To A Mighty Balloon

Emirgan Park, Sariyer

Istanbul’s highways are lined with Syrian refugees.

Your first evening in Turkey is spent with an international politics student. Along İstiklâl Caddesi, distinctly Arab-looking families huddle in the chill while their children play in the gutter. You ask her where they came from.

“Syria.” She says, pronouncing it Sye-Riya.

You probe her for details: “Is the government doing anything to help them? Why did they choose to come here and how did they cope during the winter?”

“Most of them were…” she pauses, trying to remember the English translation of the word. “Scammed? Is that the correct word? They were brought here illegally by people who took their money and passports and then left them on the street.”

“What do ordinary people think about them being here?”

“They don’t, really. This is the restaurant I was talking about. Will it be okay?”

You had been looking…

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