Things to do in Istanbul traffic

It is difficult to understand if one has never experienced it. While I am sure every city has some form of horrific traffic. There seems something especially unique about Istanbul. First the basic causes of said traffic. One: the typical reason. Too many people and cars in too small a space. Two: accidents. As an example, I waited an extra 45 minutes in traffic during a time of day where there should have been none because two miles away two cars had bumped and the drivers of the vehicles were dealing with their problem in the middle lane of a busy bus stop area. Three: misuse of lanes. Lane swapping and leap-frogging are favorite pastimes of public and private drivers alike in traffic. This includes ignoring lane lines all together, traveling the breakdown lane and searching out the mystical quickest lane. Four: weather. Even a light drizzle causes panic in the standard Istanbul driver. Five: the mystery cause. Still have yet to find the source of this cause. It will be a normal day; a quiet traffic hour. Suddenly, traffic will halt and move along inch by inch for 20 minutes only to dissipate just as quickly.

So have looked at what seem to be the main triggers of the daily plight of Istanbul inhabitants; I’ve come up with some ways to make the time pass more quickly, which may or may not also be useful in other traffic jam situations. One: music. I find that blasting nature sounds or classical music is best. If it’s my favorite music, I’m too likely to sing out loud and be the crazy foreign lady. If it’s something pop, I might be tempted to try a discreet dance move. Again the crazy foreign lady. Two: people watch. The trick to this is not to watch the people in your own vehicle of course. Then you get the ‘why the hell are you staring at me look’ which can have other side effects. Guessing conversations and particular thoughts of random people is my preference. Three: sleep. I have yet to master this, although I am told it is the best way. Firstly, I don’t trust people enough and, secondly, haven’t figured out how to get comfy enough. Four: sit next to older ladies. They like to talk. And even though my turkish is well below where it should be, it never stops them from trying to carry on a conversation. Which, I think they could do on their own anyway. Five: make like a dog. This is best when standing. Struggle to a window and, in summer, pull it open and enjoy what breeze there is on your face. Six: the changing city. Keeping track of the ever-changing face of my particular bus route is something of a hobby now: the progress of the many construction projects and the planting and wilting of the city beautification projects.

Finally the untried but discussed, mainly because they risk the crazy foreign lady title. Teach English to the drivers, origami for passengers, photographs along the way…

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