We arrived late last night and
checked into Hotel Lamartin, just steps down the street from the
China Restaurant. This morning we meet the Wang family at the
restaurant. There’s apparently a big family reunion converging
from France, Mexico and Taiwan.
I’m having trouble keeping track of who’s who and all the names
in this big family. But I get a lot of great footage from the
gathering. It’s great having them all under one roof. Saves
Cheuk a lot of coordinating. After lunch, I follow some of the
family members home on the subway with a stop over at McDonalds
for ice cream.
My only preconceived notions of Istanbul are from “Midnight
Express”, a horrifying film but a true story about a young
American who got busted for possession while travelling here in
the 60’s. I’m not planning to see any Turkish prisons fast.
contrary to “Midnight Express”, I’m finding the sights and
sounds of this crossroad between Europe and Asia truly magical.
The gorgeous light… the architecture… the history… the music…
the uninhibited way people express their affections in public. I
can see that it was worth the walk from China for the Wang’s.
Cheuk takes us to his old hippie hangout, the Pudding Shoppe,
for dinner tonight. After hearing all the nostalgia about this
joint, I was disappointed to find its present day
transformation. It has been turned into a yuppie bistro. But we
make up for the evening along the plentiful outdoor patios by the
Hippodrome where we ended up entertained by live traditional
Turkish music while smoking water pipes.
I’m fascinated by the Wangs' history. They are probably the
farthest removed from my identity connections in this diaspora
series so far. It’s probably because I haven’t been in contact
with too many Chinese of Muslim decent. But at the same time, I
can relate to many of their common struggles and survivals in
Like Feride, I didn’t feel I belong in the place I had
immigrated to and I was the first and only offspring to marry
outside our culture against our family wishes. However, she now
regrets it but didn’t elaborate. I’m curious why she has regrets
now… I think she’s still married to the Turk who walked across
the room when she made the comment in Chinese during her
interview. She still feels lost about her identity. Sometimes
she feels like a Turk and she feels Chinese amongst other
Chinese. I, on the other hand, feel Western amongst other Chinese
and Asian when I’m amongst Westerners.