Turkish delight
Turkish delight
Boris Kalnoky

ISTANBUL - Mornings around nine, when shop owners on Galip Dede Street open their doors, dozens of cats appear out of nowhere. They know it’s breakfast time. Not right away: the men first have to unpack new merchandise, stock the shelves, and check the till.

But then they put out bowls of water for the cats, who have been waiting patiently and attentively, and strew generous amounts of dried cat food about. Only then do they drink their own morning tea, standing in front of their shops chatting with each other along the small cobblestone street. Sometimes they play with the animals, teasing them benevolently or stroking them.

This is the time of day after I’ve dropped my daughter off at her school, stopped for a coffee on Istiklal Street and read the papers, and am now slowly wending my way home. And I never fail to be surprised by Istanbul’s animal-loving culture – or the huge numbers of street cats.

A few summers ago the weather was particularly hot, and there was an Istanbul-wide campaign on both the radio and Internet encouraging everybody to put out bowls of water for the cats. Many thousands of people did just that, and water in small plastic bowls or yoghurt pots were everywhere to be seen in the city’s streets.

Customs are different in different countries: in Germany, for example, many people have pets while relatively few have them in Turkey. But the Turkish look after street animals as if they were their own.

Particularly in front of some of the mosques. On Galip Dede Street, a favorite place to stroll in the inner city, mosque cats have become an actual attraction, much caressed and photographed by tourists.

All the benefits of a pet without the inconvenience

This year, city residents for the first time provided their street cats with boxes where cat moms can raise their young. Children particularly get a charge out of this, running over from the playground to cuddle the tiny bundles of fur.

But cats aren’t the only ones with fans among residents and tourists alike. Near the Galata Tower, focal point of my personal small world of narrow streets and aged buildings, along with the cats there’s also a pack of street dogs.

Every morning the butcher next door throws them a massive beef bone that they work on for hours. When they’re done, they get drowsy and don’t budge even if you step over them or take pictures.

All of this is actually a nice solution for parties concerned: people can do the things that are the reason for keeping pets in the first place – care for them, and make their daily lives a little more fun and friendly. And the animals get enough to eat, and learn to know the best places for a little grub.

They also have a lot of freedom, and perhaps a much more interesting albeit harder life than if they were limited to a small apartment or courtyard as is so often the case in Germany.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Germany's Legendary Clubbing Culture Crashes Museum Space

The exhibition “Electro” in Düsseldorf is an unlikely tribute to a joyful and uninhibited club culture, with curators forced to contend with limits of a museum setting ... and another COVID lockdown.

A woman with a "Techno" tattoo in front of the famous Berghain

Boris Pofalla

DÜSSELDORF — The last party at the Berghain nightclub in Berlin lasted from Saturday evening until Monday morning. On the first weekend of December, some clubbers lined up for nine hours outside the former power plant – and still didn’t make it past the doormen. A friend said that dancing in the most famous techno club in the world on its last evening was like landing a spot in the last lifeboat to leave the sinking Titanic on 14 April 1912.

It is surely a coincidence that the first comprehensive exhibition charting the 100-year history of electronic music in Germany opened in the same week that nightclubs across the country were forced to close. It wasn’t planned that way, but it’s like opening an exhibition about the cultural history of alcohol the day after the introduction of prohibition.

Keep reading... Show less
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ