Cruising the Bosphorus

E. Roberts
It’s been a long day, the longest one in a string of long weeks.
When there’s work to be done and some passion behind it, you don’t give it too much thought—the show must go on, after all, and the reward of a job well done and appreciated by the masses balms the spirit admirably. At least that’s what I keep telling myself, day after grueling day, in defiance of the obstacle course of life.

A long ride home in the gloaming gives my mind a chance to sift through the day’s detritus, filing away the important bits and winnowing away the chaff. Climbing up the stairs is a cruel reminder of just how physically exhausted I am, how various parts of me ache, parts of me that never used to ache. Toss my keys and wallet on the desk, take off the tie, feed the animals. Tonight calls for a mug of hot tea with just a touch of brandy … okay, maybe two touches of brandy.

Music and a pipe are the final two ingredients for proper and thorough relaxation. Of the dozen or so blends in my open rotation, nothing really calls out to me—straight red Virginia seems a little sharp, and all I want is to take the edge off … likewise, a VaPer seems a bit too energetic … and all the aromatics seem a bit too cheery for my mood. Hmm, what’s this tucked away in a corner of the shelf? Sutliff, and not an aromatic? I’ll give it a go.

"Bosphorus Cruise" is a rather evocative name, as is the tin art of a subdued, grainy sunset behind minarets and a dome. Peeling back the lid pours forth a tart perfume of Cypriot Latakia, restrained with a hint of sweetness and a spicy cedar-ish tinge. Definitely intriguing from the get-go, and it seems a perfect choice to christen a recently gifted meerschaum carved in the likeness of a turbaned sultan. It feels right, these things coming together, and I’ve learned to pay attention to moments such as this. Bosphorus Cruise sounds like a good plan for the evening.

The multi-hued ribbon is barely moist in the tin, and I’ve a deep bowl to pack, so I shake out a good portion onto my prep tray and let it aerate while I perform my nightly Mister Rogers routine, sloughing off my suit and donning sweater and slippers. The chill has returned to the air in New York, and it’s that pleasant prelude to winter when it feels sublime to be swaddled in cotton and wool. Settling into the office chair, and settling further into my tea and brandy, I search for fitting musical accompaniment. Thankful as ever for the power of the interwebs, in mere seconds I’ve discovered a new page to bookmark, and settle on a web-radio station with a hypnotic playlist of contemporary Turkish traditional and pop music. The night is shaping up, as are my spirits.

Thank you for the lovely pipe, GN.

It’s been a little over half an hour since I walked in the door; the tobacco has aired and exudes a mellower bouquet than the first flush, with definite spice alongside the cedar profile. The music and the brandy warm me, and the flavor as I light the tobacco flows in perfect harmony with the ghazel currently streaming. At first, it’s bright: the familiar top note of Virginia opens, while the Latakia plays smoothly in the background. It burns easily, and once the bowl is well underway, the Turkish leaf takes the lead, a classic Balkan profile. The spice is floral and sweetly musky, and is balanced well with the sweet Virginia and leathery Latakia. It reads a bit like a good VaPer at times: sweet and sour, with good body to follow through.

Importantly it helps me find the sweet spot, that nexus of relaxation and mental acuity that is anodyne to the rigors of the workday. I glide easily through a couple of these large bowls, lost in the heady spice, lost in my own thoughts. The tin art intrigues me, as does the name, so I while away an hour or two reading up on the history of Istanbul and the peculiarities of architecture employed by Mimar Sinan in the construction of the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, depicted in the tin photo. Soon my thoughts wander away, and my body soon follows, renewed by my evening’s meditation time with a pipe.

Bekarlığına gibi bir egemenliği, bekarlığına gibi bir soytarılık yoktur vardır.

2 Responses

  • What a great review Bill! As I dry out outside the train station after a wet crossing of a rain-driven London Bridge, I needed that reminder of Istanbul – one of my favourite cities – and the imagined tastes and smells of a classic Balkan. The Chelsea Morning in my pipe survived the wet (thank God for weather-caps!) but it’s not what I crave right now. Bosporus Cruise sounds just the ticket and will definitely be in my next order. Many thanks, my friend. Sağ olun.

  • Gorgeous article, love the ‘ghazal’ touch. Sounds like a tobacco after my own heart. Very well done:)