Çinçin – gangsta city

Ștefan Cândea
We crossed two gecekondu hills from the Altindag area. We reached to another hill, surrounded from three parts by the platforms of seemingly new residential compounds. Two of them were enclosed by a solid fence with barbed wire.

We later found out that the place is called Çinçin. The women standing at their gates wave at us again to return, but we’re already used to this behaviour. Some of them even make signs warning us to be careful with our camera and kit bags. Many of them insisit that Petrut took them a picture. The streets are calm, crowded with children, it’s almost noon. Every now and then a van passes by with loud music, commercials for watermelons or gas bottles. At the corner of the street, a kite is being lifted – it seems to be a very popular sport. A child talks to us in English, we try to chat for a while, but all he does is to repeat over and over a lesson learnt at school.

Somewhere on the hilltop we meet a group of young people – with pretty awkward appearances. Behind us, there is a plump of children whistling and shouting „tourist, tourist”. The young men ask us if we come from Almanya. We answer with Romanya. Their faces turn suddenly happy and they begin to talk tall: “Roma, roma”. Two of them take care of us, a child with a plastered hand and another child, riding a bike. The group of young men waves at us, smiling toothy, until we disappear from view. The ‘rider’ shows us to a platform-sight and proudly points at the view over the city. He even prompts us to climb a scaffold and take a picture. The child with a plastered hand asks for money, the rider scolds him. He shows us the way out of the neighborhood and we leave the area accompanied by a speech of the rider, in which Allah’s name is frequently mentioned. The boy with the plaster gives another whispered shot: “money, money”.

We rush our way down and come across a policemen car, who seem to be having a hard time trying to refrain from laughing when they see us. They say something in Turkish and leave. At the last street corner of this neighborhood, a boy leaves his group of friends to tempt us quite rudely with a speech containing words like „coke” and „heroin”.

When we got home, we began doing a little research on the area we had just visited. The internet said that Çinçin is considered to be the most dangerous neighborhood of the city. We find texts about “gangsta city”, where highbinders ride in luxury cars, thugs can be met at every street corner, the police uses armoured cars and merchandise vans are secured. This is exaggerated! It doesn’t look like the perfect place for a walk at night or for sightseeing, but things are not so frightening.

Translated by: Roxana Bocicai