Now, Fenerbahçe and GS are like the Sox and Yankees of Turkish futbol. One of my roommates, Oğuz, is a staunch GS fan, and has a wardrobe full of maroon-and-gold. Atakan, on the other hand, is a quiet but faithful fan of Fener, and puts up with Oğuz's singsong taunts (which i don't dare translate here). Tonight though, we were all fans of Fener: all except the French students. Root for the home team, you know?
The game everyone was waiting for began at ten. Hundreds of students gathered in Speed Cafeteria, a short walk from our dorm. At the end of the first half, GS was down 1-0, and the students poured from the building to talk and smoke outside. Except it was pouring rain, and lightning flashed over the city - and soon pea-sized hail began to fall. Everyone huddled under the narrow overhang outside the cafeteria, but a few hardcores stood across the cobblestones chanting and singing. Suddenly, a flare was lit, then two, more. It was quite the scene: the whole crowd singing, most of them stuffed like sardines under the overhang and a few jumping up and down while flare-smoke rose to meet the hail, and every so often thunder crashed, faint against a hundred voices.
Back inside, we watched Galatasaray fail at one drive after another. Finally, as the game clock struck 80 minutes, they scored a goal to tie the game. Four minutes of overtime to no avail, it ended as a tie - but GS fans were still thrilled. I couldn't help wishing i'd brought my soccer cleats from home, itching to get on the field and play a little. Let's just say it is refreshing to be in a place where people are obsessed with the one sport i actually enjoy - and i mean obsessed. Perhaps Oğuz and i will make it to Istanbul March 28 for the ultimate rivalry match - GS vs. Fener.
L to R; Roomie Oğuz, friend Ozan, roomie Atakan