A Rooster Crows In Istanbul
A bizarre voyage to a parallel world without past or self.
It’s five o’clock in the morning and inside an urban enclave buried in a valley of northeast Istanbul, comprised of posh hotels and skyscrapers brimming with tech businesses and medical clinics the sound of a rooster crowing wakes me.
My first question: What is a rooster doing in Urban Istanbul?
The second: Why is he crowing three hours before sunrise?
A rooster crowing in a city? It’s a strange sound mixed with the slight humming of automobiles a dozen stories below and the occasional horn, more common during every second of the day.
I soon discover that this rooster in Istanbul isn’t crowing for the morning. He’s crowing in anticipation of the local mosque’s first call to morning prayer.
At half past six, the Rooster finally stops, and moments later the call to prayer takes over. The droning sound of a recorded voice calls out to remind the Islamic faithful to go to Mosque or fall to their knees and face Mecca, for their first of five daily rituals.
I’ve come to the Bosporphos as a medical tourist. Having foregone my Polish medical insurance, and Poland entirely, I’ve had to shop around with private clinics in popular medical tourist spots.
With a Delta e-credit for a free ticket almost anywhere, no place is off limits and I’ve done my homework. India (too far), Mexico (too expensive, not responsive), Costa Rica (not responsive), Bulgaria (no confidence), Dominican Republic (maybe), and then Turkey hit my radar with several specialists capable of doing what would be a rudimentary meniscus repair. It’s more than affordable and only a short flight.
I shop a half dozen clinics and hospitals and zero in on one that wants my business, isn’t too earnest or overbearing, and appears legitimately professional. The firm's service with line-item quote comes in at 70% less than any U.S. clinic and a third cheaper than Mexico and includes a two-night stay at the local Sheraton and airport-hotel-clinic-hotel-airport transfers, plus a brace and crutches.
I check surgeon credentials, hospital tours, and video reviews, and it all seems like those stereotypes of Turkish prisons from my youth from too many viewings of Midnight Express have distorted my idea of an important geopolitical land, with a fascinating history and extremely generous and kind people.