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Istanbul: Neither cat videos nor calm

At home in Istanbul with her cat, Aysegul Can senses the tension oustide.

There is no official lockdown in Istanbul yet and when I look out of the window it's business as usual. But since the universities and schools are closed and I have chronic allergic asthma, I have been staying in and working from home for around 3 or 4 days now. I am a Lecturer in a university.

One thing I can confirm by now that it has not been productive. So I am mostly giving my cat, Minnos, the attention she has required in the last few months, but that I was unable to provide.

Photo of Minnos the cat, who is not silently panicked, by Aysegul Can

For Istanbul and Istanbulites, there is a silent panic going on. We all seem to be waiting - dreading - our unavoidable fate. Fearing to see people collapsing on the streets or filling up the emergency rooms, while, one by one the schools, amenities, entertainment and cultural areas are closing. People are out, but wary of every cough or sneeze they hear around them. They are exercising the same panic, such as stocking pasta and toilet paper and buying masks and hand sanitizers frantically.

Istanbul, which has always struggled with its role as 'a bridge between the West and East' and the tensions and conflicts that role brings, feels much more tense than I have ever experienced.

This story was shared by Dr. Aysegul Can, an urbanist and university lecturer based in Istanbul.

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