September 9, 2012 : Istanbul Day 5 : Class 2, The Basilica Cistern, Spice Market

The theme of our program is Health, Wealth, and Happiness: Measuring Quality of Life Cross-Culturally. For today’s class, we discussed Katherine Boo’s Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. It is a compelling book that revels the life of slum dwellers as it is. Our discussion questions obviously revolved around theme in regards to the characters. But the theme of our trip is a little complicated. Generally speaking, happiness is defined as good fortune or a state of well-being and contentment (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). However, happiness is not a subject that can be quantified, define, or put a generalization to it altogether. Wherever you go and whoever you meet will have their own perspective on the idea and definition of happiness. For instance, one of our discussion questions is who is happy and who is unhappy in the slum? After reading this book and from my western influenced point of view, no one is happy—NO ONE (in the slum)! But I argued that Abdul, the main character, is happy because at the end of the day his integrity and morals are what really makes him the better person, and he eventually learned to accept everything in his life. But is it really possible to be happy if you live in such poverty? What is your definition of happiness? Are you happy? Why or why not?


Then we visited the Basilica Cistern, the ancient underground water system. It caused 10 TL but definitely worth it. It was beautiful! 

The spice market

The pet market?? Dogs, cats, pigeons, bunnies, roosters, leeches were all sold there! Located just around the corner of the spice market.  

While we were waiting to leave, a younger girl walked up to me and pointed to her cellphone. I thought that she wanted me to take a picture of her and her parents so I agreed. But instead of taking a picture of her with her parents, they took a picture of me with her. After the photo, I asked why she wanted a picture. She simply said that she spoke little English and didn’t understand my question. So I asked her if she lives in Istanbul and she said yes. She asked for my name and I asked for hers in return, then they left.
After they left, I freaked out –like literally. I have never been approached that way before and I’m just uneasy about taking a photo with a complete stranger in a different country. I seriously contemplated on chasing after them and asking them to delete it! I was so paranoid! My globalite friends reassured me to not worry but I just can’t help it! I don’t know if I should be flattered or if I should worry….. !!!!!! 

Dinner. 10 TL and a generous amount of food!

1 scoop of strawberry ice cream 1TL

It tastes like a frozen version of this:

Ponder the thought of happiness.
I wish you a happy day.
♥ Thao    


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s