Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nuro Osmania Street

If you ever come to Istanbul by cruise ship, you'll pass through Nuro Osmania Street, named after the big mosque at the end of the block (above). 

The small pedestrian street is full of expensive gold, rug and antique shops, a dozen banks, and at least 7 trendy cafes. The cruise ships use this street as a convenient chute to get their passengers directly into the Grand Bazaar, and on any given day you can see tour leaders with their flags herding groups around.

It's a great place to people watch over a latte and read the paper. The last month, I've had two nice encounters on this street. 

1) I met my mom's Avon lady from Naramata! She sat down near me and started a conversation, and within minutes she guessed who I was! "Oh my! You're Heather's daughter!" We were both so surprised! What are the chances? 

2) Then tonight I was reading the paper in my regular seat,when an old Chinese woman came in and asked if she could sit in my empty seat. Her feet were tired and her family was still shopping. Of course she could! She pulled up a chair and of course we started talking. What a fascinating lady!

She was originally from Shanghai, but during the war with Mao, her family escaped to Hong Kong, then Taiwan and then finally arrived in California as refugees. She was just a little girl when they left Shanghai, but goes back often to visit family members who weren't able to make it out, even though she is now over 75.

We lamented the tearing down of the Xiang Yang Market, (the fake goods market) in Shanghai. She told me a big developer from Hong Kong bought the land. She also pointed out that the big maple trees that line Nuro Osmania Street are the the same that line the French Quarter of Shanghai, (she was right!) She complained that the Olympics drove the prices up and railed against the government.

We talked about Hong Kong and Taiwan seeing all the Philippine workers who line the streets on Sundays and share food and listen to Philippine music and how the Vietnamese do something similar in Orange County.

She told me about how she grew up near Pudong in Shanghai, and that the streets she played in when she was a kid have all been replaced by sky scrapers. Also, in her opinion, Vancouver's China Town has some of the best Chinese food around, she's been there four times. 

We talked about an hour, before her family came back to fetch her. We were both sorry to say goodbye, but the tour bus was leaving to take them back to the ship.  As she left she called out - "I hope to see you walking the streets of Shanghai next year!  I'm going in April!  And Merry Christmas!!"

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