I woke up early because the cats wanted to play. I was realizing that I was out of coffee and wondering whether anyone would deliver at four in the morning when I heard a woman shouting--in English--"Go away!"
I looked out the window and saw a small figure in a dark coat on the street. "Hey, do you need help?"
"Yeah, he's following me."
I looked, but I only saw her. I told her to come up to my apartment. I let her in and made her a cup of tea. She was an exchange student from Germany. We were both surprised that she'd been harassed: That kind of thing is so rare in this neighborhood that she was, in my view, perfectly correct to think she could walk home safely by herself at four in the morning.
We chatted for a while about the cats, and then I walked her to the taxi station, just in case. I told the cab drivers that someone had been following her. They leapt up to spear the guy with a pointy stick, but I told them not to bother, the malefactors were long gone.
She and I exchanged phone numbers--she offered to come feed my cats if ever I was out of town. I told her to send me a text when she was home safely. (She did.) When I told her my name, she said, "Oh, where are you from?"
I explained that my grandparents were from Leipzig, and that the generations before had been from Lithuania and Poland.
She said she wished she knew more about her great-grandparents--she knew one was from Poland. Her grandmother, she said, didn't like to talk about the war. "I think she felt it very deeply and she wanted to forget."
Four in the morning is about the only time in Istanbul that you can focus on the small details. I'm glad I have cats.