I guess I love Istanbul so much because it reminds me of a Mumbai of the future. It retains the smells, the chaos, the strong, deep culture and history, but it's also moving forward, making way for a new Istanbul to grow. In Istanbul, I see a lot of the hopes I have for Mumbai. That one day the Rajabhai tower will draw in the throngs of tourists that the Galata tower does. That there will still be fish being fried in the streets, and stray cats curled up under motorbikes, and the imam's call to prayer every few hours, and beautiful, colorful houses stacked on top of each other, squished next to each other, sticking out in every direction. But that there will also be signage, the occasional sidewalk, streets that are safe to walk at night, tourists who will leave talking less about the smell and more about the thudding, beautiful heart and soul of the tremendous city. That we will work on our social problems, strive for better education systems, less corruption, better healthcare, more equality, but we will do it without trying to blindly mimic the West. We'll grow into our own developed countries, we will not be the New York of Asia, we'll be just Mumbai, India, and pretty fucking proud of it.
Other than that, it was a wonderful feeling to navigate a city and remember memories from last year. A store I shopped in, a street i photographed, a museum I visited. There's something incredible about being on holiday without the stress and pressure of wanting to map out the entire city and explore every nook and cranny. As always, UWC connections found there way into my visit, and it was absolutely delightful to hang out with my old roommate for a little while. It's funny how easy it is to slip back into conversations, and how we're all finding our places, spinning off in different directions, growing into our own people but without alienating ourselves from each other. It makes me a little warm and fuzzy.