A ‘Fantastic’ Trip To Bursa

I was fourteen years old. Every two or three years my grandmother took me to the spas at Çekirge in Bursa. We stayed at least a week...

The mineral waters, which were good for her rheumatism, made me sick. The endless talk of ailments among people of my grandmother’s generation bored me to death at that age. What’s more, we rode to Bursa over twisting, precipitous roads. In short, getting there was a problem, and getting back another. Then one day I suddenly upped and said, “I’ll go this year, but what if we went by airplane?” My grandmother declared that she would never in her life set foot on a plane but that if she could find somebody to meet me she would send me. I was mad with joy. For years (I’ll never divulge the year!) I had been going to movies and wondering whether one day I too would be able to board an airplane (or did we call them flying machines back then?) So one day I was bundled onto a bus, and I set out for the airport at Yeşilköy. My first time, all by myself... I was ready to burst with excitement and happiness.
Gripping my ticket tightly in my two hands, I stepped first onto the tarmac, then onto the steps leading up to the plane. Finally I was on board. What was it like, this thing, winging through the sky like a bird? My seat was next to the window. I couldn’t believe it. I would be able to see everything. The flight would take all of sixteen minutes. The hosted pointed to a paper sack. “If your stomach gets upset, you’ll throw up.” I didn’t get it. “Oh my god, was I going to throw up? Did everybody who boarded a plane vomit?” Finally the plane took off with a deafening roar. It was hard to believe but I was finally gazing out the window at the earth from a great height. Fantastic! The houses down below, the green fields, the trees and gardens, all suddenly looked very small. My journey was over almost before it began. It was like a dream. I didn’t throw up; in fact nothing happened at all. Coming to Bursa this way was truly wonderful. I awaited the day of my return eagerly. And that return flight turned out to have many unforgettable moments in store.
Just as the plane was approaching Yeşilköy and I was heaving a sigh of regret that my dream was about to end, the hostess came up and said, “The pilot is inviting you to the cockpit.” With some trepidation I asked why. “So you can get a better view of Istanbul,” she replied. In the cockpit, the handsome pilot and co-pilot took me on a quick whirl through the Istanbul skies. As we swooped down over Büyükada and Çamlıca in a few seconds, I suddenly spotted the mouth of the Bosphorus and the two lighthouses on either side of the entrance to the Black Sea. I saw the Galata Bridge and the slender, graceful minarets of the mosques that seemed to reach out directly to me. The sea was a deep blue and I could even make out the iridescent sheen of the seaweed undulating on its bottom. Back in a time when our verdant green lands had not yet been polluted, when our attractive houses and idyllic villages had not yet been turned into heaps of concrete, when the color of the sea was still blue and the black pall of air pollution, that gift of civilization, had not yet descended over our city, I saw it. And whenever I flew to other countries in the years to come, I would always think to myself, “Is there any other city in the world that captivates a person like Istanbul when seen from an airplane?” I have never forgotten that pilot, who suddenly spread Istanbul before my eyes in a matter of seconds and made me fall in love with this unsurpassed city where I was born and live. If he is still alive, I salute him!