(written March 2004)
When darkness fell, from deep within came a desire to be home, tucked up and comfortably resting. It had been an exceptionally fine day for February.
J. and his fiancée, L., and T. and I had been to the old city, the ancient city of Byzantium also known as Constantinople from the mid 4th century. Regardless of its name, we had spent the day in old Istanbul. We had finished the day with a tour of the TopKapı palace, the seat of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years and now the repository of a fine porcelain collection; the treasury containing every form and description of gold, jewel encrusted ornamentation, decoration and furniture; a portrait collection of the Sultans and the leading men of the Empire; and of course the room with the artefacts from the Prophet Muhammed; an extremely old copy of the Koran, reportedly a footprint of the prophet, a sandal, some of his hair, his sword and other artefacts.
That particular room was packed with the faithful; women in a variety of head coverings, men with the small white skull cap, and a multitude of children, all doing a sort of pilgrimage; parents showing the artefacts to their children, adults staring at the artefacts that confirmed the historicity of their prophet; in the corner, in a booth, a man in a long dull-coloured robe with a squarish hat on his head, a clean close-cropped beard, his eyes closed, as he sat before an open Koran, rocking gently, chanting verses from memory, the sound filling the room and invading every recess of the mind.
It had been a good day. With my smaller, but good quality video camera, I had taken some, what I felt was ‘good’ stock footage – you never know when you may need some footage from Istanbul, the Palace or the general environs. As always the camera bag was slung over my shoulder, and as always, at the ready for that important impromptu shot. We were tired and slowly trudged back to the ferry terminal for the half hour ride across the Bosphorous, the strait joining the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmaris and ultimately the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.
The Bosphorous … which divides this city of 12 million into two halves, the European side where the ancient, historic city is, and the Asian side where we live. As always, there was a crush of people waiting in the departure lounge and when the ferry arrived, there was a mad dash to board and hopefully get seats. In one sense it is unnecessary as the ferry will take all who wish to board and there are an abundance of seats – so in all probability, all passengers will have a seat. We desired seats together, and me being me, I desired a certain part of the ferry.
The no smoking winds have blown across Turkey as they have across Europe and North America and so the interior of the ship is all non-smoking. Those who wish to imbibe must go to the open deck to engage their addiction. We settled nicely on some wooden benches, grateful for the opportunity to rest.
Normally the ferry goes straight over to Kadikoy, ancient Chaceldon – and my plan was that we would walk the ten or fifteen minutes over to the train station at Haydarpaşa (which is also in Kadıköy but opposite the ferry wharf). It is from there that we would take the train to where we were staying (this was before we bought the flat in Üsküdâr).
Suddenly I became aware that the ferry was slowing as to stop, not going directly to Kadıköy, but possibly stopping at the train station. To validate what I assumed was happening, I leaped up from the bench seat, left the others wondering what was causing my sudden burst of energy considering how tired we all were and I moved through the crowd to the middle door to see if we were indeed stopping at Haydarpaşa.
Indeed we were stopping and the crowd at the door indicated that the regular commuters know that at this time of the day there the Kadıköy ferry makes a stop at the station. As the ship is nigh on docked and as it probably will not remain long at the wharf side, I hurried, through the crowd to my party.
“Quick, quick!” I urged the others, ”we are getting off now.” Everyone leapt to their feet and in a rushed blur of activity hustled to the departure point and the people crowding at the door. The ferry gracefully sidled up to the wharf as if the captain was parking a Volkswagen and not a massive ship several hundred feet long and carrying hundreds of passengers.
Trying to stay together amidst the turmoil, we hurried across the wharf and scampered up the stairs to the famous and historic Haydarpaşa train station. We made our way through the cavernous departure hall and out to our departure platform.
Twenty minutes down the line we collected ourselves and disembarked at the station nearest where we were staying. As I was climbing the stairs of the underpass in the train station it struck me.
Something was missing.
Something wasn’t right.
What was it? … What was it? …
I stopped in the middle of the stairs and turned, a puzzled expression clouding my face. You know the feeling something is wrong but you can’t put your finger on it.
Then it dawned on me.
I patted my body.
I looked anxiously at my fellow travellers.
Frantically I examined each of my companions; did T. have it, did my son, his fiancée?
My video camera the one that went with me wherever I went, had now gone somewhere without me. More likely I had gone somewhere without it. Whatever the event that transpired, it was most definitely no longer wiht me.
No more to be said. Did I leave it on the ferry in my haste to depart? Most likely.
Was it turned in to the ferry terminal? Unfortunately not. Someone received an early holiday present – an expensive, quality camera, complete with batteries, unused video tape and some wonderful stock footage.
Regrettably, for me it was gone. And boy, have I missed it. It was so handy. It didn’t draw attention in a crowd, and yet it recorded very good images. I took it when I travelled and it allowed me to load tape onto the computer for editing on-the-fly. And it was gone.
Not a cheap video camera cost £1550 GBP or roughly $3,000 USD or $3,600 CAD (all 2003 values). It was not something that I was going to replace easily or soon.
I love the passages in the Bible that begin with ”But God”. Although I did not have the resources to replace this camera and as I had nothing to sell and no way to raise or earn that kind of money, God, who can do abundantly more than we can ask or think provided and now we have been able to replace the camera.
Wow ! God is Great ! God is Gracious !
Gracious because it was my own haste and lack of attention that resulted in it being left behind. Grace – undeserved, unearned favour.
God is many things, all knowing, all powerful, Creator, Sustainer, Judge, Holy but maybe the two most powerful attributes of God are His is Love and His is Grace.
Without these two, where would we be….where would I be?