Staying in the same place

The Babu has considered migrating several times, in the same way he’s considered dieting, because everyone does it. He did neither, and now he can claim that Orhan Pamuk was his inspiration. (Now he’s worrying about whether Pamuk ever dieted, in which case we will be forced to bring on the lettuce leaves. It’s a question of solidarity.)
Here’s Orhan Pamuk on Istanbul:
“Here we come to the heart of the matter: I’ve never left Istanbul – never left the houses, streets and neighbourhoods of my childhood. Although I’ve lived in other districts from time to time, 50 years on I find myself back where my first photographs were taken and where my mother first held me in her arms to show me the world. I know this persistence owes something to my imaginary friend, and to the solace I took from the bond between us.
But we live in an age defined by mass migration and creative immigrants, and so I am sometimes hard-pressed to explain why I’ve stayed not only in the same place, but the same building. My mother’s sorrowful voice comes back to me, “Why don’t you go outside for a while, why don’t you try a change of scene, do some travelling …?”
Conrad, Nabokov, Naipaul – these are writers known for having managed to migrate between languages, cultures, countries, continents, even civilisations. Their imaginations were fed by exile, a nourishment drawn not through roots but through rootlessness; mine, however, requires that I stay in the same city, on the same street, in the same house, gazing at the same view. Istanbul’s fate is my fate: I am attached to this city because it has made me who I am.”

2 comments

  1. Wait a minute, he spent a three years in New York! What does he mean when he says “he never left Istanbul.” I am not arguing with the Babu :)) I just don’t think the excerpt represents the full truth.

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