Stories Sites Date Images

In ‘Galata’ (Karaköy) Harbour

Maria is in her 80s. She is a retired teacher from a Greek school in Istanbul who emigrated to Athens after she retired in 1990s. Many members of her family were already in Athens. She went to university in Greece and finished in . Maria pointed out that in those years there were political tensions between Turkey and Greece relating to the conflict over . After she finished university, she went back to Istanbul by ship. She arrived in the in ‘’ []. She had a big suitcase holding many books, newspapers and magazines. At customs, books, magazines and newspapers were often checked to see if they were ‘political’. Maria said she wasn’t sure if her newspapers or magazines included anything that could turn out to be a problem, but she wasn’t worried about it.

Unfortunately, Maria ended up in a line where the officer was well known for her strict rules, making it quite likely that Maria’s luggage would be checked. Maria’s sister, who was waiting for her at the harbour, was worried. When Maria’s turn came, the notorious officer asked what she was doing. When Maria said she had just finished her study in Philosophy and Literature, the female officer said to her: ‘a woman who reads philosophy would not lie’ and let her go through without checking Maria’s possessions. 

When she told me about this, tears came to her eyes, her voice trembled, and she said: ‘I still get excited and feel emotional when I think about that moment. Who knows, maybe she wanted to study Philosophy but couldn’t.’