Thursday, 8 September 2011

Things Change....

In those days - a hundred years ago.... our alleyways were not yet choked with garbage, and sewage did not yet flow under our bridges; our ferries funnels did not yet spew out great clouds of tar-black smoke, and people never elbowed each other rudely at bus-stops. In those days the horse drawn street-cars went at such a leisurely pace you could step on and off as they were moving; the ferries were so slow that passengers could step off at one station, amble down the shore among the linden trees, laughing and talking as they went, and relax for a few minutes at the teahouse outside the next ferry stop before boarding the same ferry they had left and continuing on their way. Where we now see electricity poles plastered with posters advertising circumcisers and tailors, in those days we saw chestnut and walnut trees. Where the city ended we did not see bare garbage hills bristling with electricity and telephone poles, but the groves, meadows and woodlands that our sad and merciless sultans used as their hunting grounds. It was on one of these green hills, later to be criss-crossed with sewage pipes, apartment buildings and cobblestone lanes that the Prince had his hunting lodge.


from The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely, published by Faber.

I think it's interesting to think about how places change. Here, for example, much as I mourn the loss of the meadows and woodlands, I wouldn't mourn the loss of exclusive hunting estates.

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7 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

Agree wholeheartedly Juliet.

Martin said...

I'll be keeping an eye open for Orhan Pamuk.

Jinksy said...

If only...

Lucy said...

Orhan Pamuk came up somewhere the other day, and I though I might like to read him, this confirms it.

I suppose that's the point, that while the passing of the merciless sultans and their hunting can only be a good thing, progress has brought other undesirable things. I often think how colourful and varied and picturesque the countryside must have been around here compared to the green desert it is now, but also how poor and constrained it must have been for the people who lived and worked here.

On the whole though, the richer and more comfortable we get, and the more people are lifted out of harsh subsistence,the more the environment suffers.

Michelle May (Shell) said...

So true, so true.
xx, shell

gabriellebryden said...

Yes, it is interesting - I wouldn't mourn the loss of vast expanses of cattle grazing lands that have been around for over a hundred years.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Yes -- too bad we can't keep only what's good now and combine it with what we miss from then. Guess some people would call that Paradise. It surely isn't Earth!