(Written Nov 2003)
The sun sparkled brightly off the dancing blue waters as the sharp prow of the sleek white passenger ferry sliced through the waters, the spray arching back in living, undulating white sheets. This was one of six ferries within my field of vision, moving back, forth, up and down the crowded waterway, each with its own history, where it came from and to where it is rushing, each with its human cargo with their individual stories of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, ambitions, dreams, frustrations and aspirations.
Mixed with these ferries, there were two car ferries augmenting the twin bridges that span the water. These car ferries loaded with cars and lorries trundle across the water. Their design has two fronts and no back making it easy to load and unload their mobile cargo. These vehicular ferries add their own dimension to these crowded waters.
There are others, fishing boats, and I’m forced to count quickly because they are small, one-man operations, some no bigger, it seems, than a rowing boat. The ferries, human and car, manoeuvre amidst one another and dozens of these little fishing boats, which seemingly are solely intent on the business of catching fish and oblivious to the frenzied ferries on all sides and often through their midst.
To this we add the motor-ferries. These are smaller than the larger ferries, which carry multiple of hundreds; these smaller motor-ferries would carry between a hundred to a hundred and fifty, and these, each on their routes ply between the opposing sides of the Bosphorus. They are slower than the larger ferries and far more numerous, twisting, turning and ploughing forth on their chosen course.
Then there are the high-speed ferries, twin hulled like a cross between an airplane and a ferry. They are fast, very fast, manoeuvring amongst the ferries, car and human, fishing boats and motor-ferries, the spray rising up like twin rooster tails from behind their sterns as they fly upon their mission to be the fastest conveyance on the water.
Finally we add the spectacle of ocean-going ships ploughing their way either up or down in the middle of the passage, some riding high indicating they are going to collect their goods and others low in the water, fully laden. Every cargo from the benign to the dangerous is funnelled from the wide open reaches of the sea, their natural home, through this unnatural environment, this narrow waterway, the banks rising close on either side and a multitude of shipping crossing in front, behind and often it seems aimed directly at them as the ferries bide their time waiting for the intruding hulks to pass out of the way so they can continue on their course across the waterway.
It is a sight that takes your breath away – you stand mesmerized by the chorography of the various elements, each intent on their own business and yet each taking its’ place amongst the whole. This view of the Bosphorus is replayed everyday – always the same and yet never the same.
Vibrant, changing, interplay, knowing and not knowing, being a part of something and being estranged from it at the same time, everyday this dance is played out – always the same and never the same. Vessels teaming with life – or, more accurately, lives, and yet the majority is not tied to the ship – merely a passing commodity.
Life, our lives, our interactions, reflect and mirror this in a thousand ways every day throughout our sojourn on this lump of dirt flying through space. Knowing this, being cognisant of the fact that we are travelling together and not, that we are going to the same destination, and not, that we share many, many, many traits and things in common with the multitude around us and yet we are unique, one of a kind and on our very own journey.
Take care as you go, take care where you go.