13 million is a big number. It's an even bigger number when you think about actually counting out 13 million of something and try putting them in one container. There was a Holocaust project that did something like this with paperclips. They collected paperclips to represent the lives lost. Paper clips are small, but what if you tried to collect something bigger. Say, people? What would 13 million people look like? Looks like Istanbul to me! The number of people in this 1 city is shocking. It always hits me when I have to stand absurdly close to someone on the bus or metro because it's so crowded, and this happens all the time, not just rush hour. Or it hits me when I'm at the top of Galata Kulesi seeing buildings and sea and nothing else. Then the line of people waiting for the same view pushes me back down to the bottom of the tower.
People watching has always been one of my favorite hobbies. First, people do ridiculous things in public - I am not excluding anyone from this statement including myself. Whether they smack their kids on the behind, pick their nose, kiss their lover, or eat off the floor. Whatever it is, someone's doing it. Second, you can commentate their actions with whatever it is you like. Third, you can eavesdrop (probably my favorite part of this!). When I arrived in Istanbul it was extremely easy for me commentate; I didn't really understand what people were saying. The longer I stay, the harder it is for me to commentate and easier it is to eavesdrop. Hooray for adaption!
It's incredible how much I have learned since my arrival. From people watching, I can tell you that meals are a sit-down type of thing. "Paket" or to-go services are available, but for the most part a meal means you sit where and eat. I have found this also true for coffee and most likely not for ice cream. I can also tell you that people enjoy walking in the middle of the sidewalks but not in the middle of the escalator. People will sell anything for money: necklaces, live music, I have even seen books being sold on the street. The dress code is also different: longer sleeves and shorter bottoms or shorter sleeves (tank top) with longer bottoms. The chest area is always covered.
Earlier today someone approached me speaking Turkish asking about the metro. I was so caught off guard that I froze when I wanted to answer. I guess I have taken on some of the Turkish customs and attitude because she thought I was Turkish. Score!