It was a gorgeous late-summer afternoon in Istanbul, Turkey. The pedestrian walkways on both sides of city’s historic Goleta Bridge were packed with international tourists as well as local citizens, either crossing the bridge or catching fish by lowering their fishing-rods to the water below. The bridge spans over a bay area, naturally curved out from the famous Bosporus Straight, separating Europe and Asia. Ms. Sydney Walker, an American foreign-exchange student in the Istanbul University was crossing the bridge, when she would decide to take an evening two-hour leisure-cruise in the Straight. She came down the staircases, went to the counter, bought a ticket, and boarded the next available ferry, already getting filled up with foreigners as well as the locals.
Soon, the ferry began its northwards journey and a voice came over the ferry’s loudspeaker system, welcoming the guests and initiating the descriptions of the historic landmarks on both sides of the Straight. Sydney got up from her seat, went to the nearby balcony, and began taking a few selfies with some of those landmarks as the backdrops. At one point, she felt a tap on her shoulder, looked around, and found a gorgeous young lady, head covered with a traditional Islamic head-scarf requesting Sydney to snap a few shots offering her own camera. She was traveling with an equally gorgeous friend. Both of them wanted to be in the same series of shots, thus the request. Sydney happily fulfilled their request while striking up a conversation. She learned that they were Saira and Karisma, both university students in Tehran, Iran. They were touring a few neighboring countries during their summer-break. All three soon became engaged in discussing Istanbul’s attractions, food, arts and culture voicing over the surrounding cacophony.
After an hour, the ferry began its return journey. The onboard TV-monitor was broadcasting CNN International that suddenly stopped to display a “Breaking News”. The anchor announced that the current US administration unilaterally decided to honor no more the nuclear treaty with Iran that was signed by an international community after several years of negotiation. A silence descended on the ferry.
Saira stood up and went to the ferry’s entertainment personnel. She requested he play American hip-hop artist Pharrell William’s recent hit “Because I’m Happy”. Karisma intimated to Sydney that Saira was arrested in the past year for publicly dancing to the tune of the song in the streets of Tehran. Sydney remembered that the singer had created a website for his fans from various corners of this earth, to upload their dancing videos. Now Sydney, Saira, and Karisma, all began dancing to the tune. Soon all the passengers on both upper and lower decks joined them with their own impromptu dance moves to the music.
As the sun set in the west, evening lights on both European and Asian sides of the Bosporus Straight began to flicker. The captain of the ferry thanked his guests for such a spontaneous performance act. Three newly minted friends exchanged their identities on social networks with the promise of “staying in touch”.
By Sankar Chatterjee
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