“A heavy grey hangs over Istanbul. Shoes shuffle on pocked pavement as shades of pastel flake off dilapidated apartments stacked many stories high. The ocean is a dense, charcoal smoke. Mosques are frozen in time, looming above the landscape, forlorn, and capped with warm gold. Muslim songs drone from unseen speakers, resonating through the city’s electric streets, and spray-paint jibberish scrawls cement walls. A weathered old dog passes, its hair tangled in knots. He wants nothing to do with the piece of pretzel I toss it, having eaten enough today. The market is bustling. Within the delirium of the Grand Bazaar marketplace, a man has toppled over and passed out on the sidewalk. Elderly women place Misbaha prayer beads into his limp claw. Most likely a drug overdose, I’m told—the last strides of a midnight run. The thick stench of burnt hair that envelops the city is pungent, but two days in, I’m used to it. Merchants yell for attention in broken English, and pigeon shit blankets every inch of cement. Vibrant colors of storefront spices burst from the drab, brown slats they sit atop. The grey never lifts, and so evenings get dark—pitch black; the sky completely absent of stars. Into the twilight we dissolve, waiting for something, anything to transpire.
‘We’re here to snowboard,’ I tell a confused man at a discotheque. He has a thick mustache and black, dark-set eyes with a round nose that contrasts his stickish facial features. Techno blares from unfinished hand-me-down subwoofers unstably stacked to the ceiling. He says something in Turkish. Our guide translates: ‘He does not know why you came here to snowboard.’ Funny thing was, neither did we.”- T. Bird
To read the rest of this feature, pick up a copy of SNOWBOARDER Magazine’s September issue