We were getting married. We couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable. We didn’t consider ourselves the marrying type. We were too lazy to get married. Other people got married. We were never “other people.”
Yet there we were, lined up with all the other people at the registry office in Üsküdar, paperwork in hand. A strange whirlwind of events carried us to shops to buy the suit and dress. Maybe we’d hit our heads somewhere, and had a joint concussion, I don’t know. Her mother thoughtfully sent out the invitations, which seemed to confirm the reality, so I went in search of a ring. There were still many other things to do besides.
Out of the blue, came a set-back: There was this matter to be settled with my old landlady…
Two years before meeting my Fikriye, I’d rented a room in Kadıköy. The flat was shared by Erasmus students mostly, who came and went with the passing semesters. It was an old flat, in a building near Rihtim Caddesi, where Turkish families lived.
The landlady owned the flat and rented it out, like many Istanbullus do, as a way to earn extra money. She was “fast-approaching” thirty, unmarried and lived with her parents. Her father was an ex-alcoholic, that’s all I really knew. I didn’t know much about her mother or her brother. Years before, the whole family had moved to Istanbul from somewhere in the eastern part of Turkey, and were still somewhat conservative, although my landlady didn’t wear the headscarf.
I confess, in the interests of disclosure, to having a crush on the landlady in the beginning. She had Syrian-like attractiveness — a tall, slender girl, with sleek black hair and fragile, pale features. We became friends, and when I went to give her the rent each month, she’d insist we go somewhere for coffee and a chat. Her English was excellent, and she was fond of reading, so I’d lend her books, and during these monthly “rent chats” we’d discuss the particular book she’d read that month. One of her favorites was To Kill a Mockingbird, and because of her flashing dark eyes, I’d taken to affectionately calling her “my mockingbird,” which she liked.
There was never anything between us, understand, other than this kind of literary friendship. Like many girls from the east, my mockingbird was quite serious about the subject of marriage. She wouldn’t even consider kissing a man without a proper proposal in hand. Plus, I was a drinker, and she could never tolerate that – which is understandable, considering her father’s history.
On my end, the more I got to know her, my crush faded. She was too conservative for one thing. But also, being her literary friend, she would confide her past and present struggles to find “a serious man.” I listened as she – always with regret – signed off on another deal gone bad, another promising suitor who’d turned out to be “like all the rest.” Not serious.
Anyway, I listened sympathetically, on those sunny or rainy afternoons in the coffee shop, as she confided her troubles. I agreed, yes, it’s true – a good man was hard to find. Men were always unreliable fools. You had to watch out for them.
Plus, I wasn’t the only one who’d had a crush on her at the flat. Over the years, not a semester passed that at least one of the tenants didn’t fall under the mis-impression that their attractive landlady came with the room and bed, and tried to elicit from her some sly proposition. A few of them even openly declared their “love.” Of course, the landlady was too sensible, too conscious of them being boys, of being not serious, of being yabancı – and was always on guard, ready to gently but firmly dissuade them.
My point is, the landlady had many admirers, Turkish and yabancı alike, but she always found in them something lacking; as my Fikriye, no fan of the landlady, once said: She seemed to view herself as some kind of “mother-of-pearl” (that’s the word my Fikriye used to describe her).
Indeed, at one point the landlady was deeply engaged (in the figurative sense) with a businessman from Ankara (who suffered from the misfortune of being already married, it seems, as she found out later). When the Ankara businessman finally broke it off, he said, with regret, “You are like a diamond – something rare and beautiful. But I am not good enough for diamonds.”
The landlady told me this story over coffee, and I may have mis-remembered exactly the way the man put it. But it did involve the word “diamond,” and the general tone was that he was not good enough for her, or that she was too good for this world.
As we got to be somewhat closer friends, I tried playing the part of the sensible one, and chided her. She had to lower her expectations, I said. She wasn’t getting any younger, and she couldn’t expect to find the perfect man, etc. To which the landlady would always listen, transfixed, her black mockingbird eyes wide with attention. “Do you really think so?” she’d ask, and I’d say, “Yes! Yes!”
“Maybe,” she’d respond, coming out of her thoughts, furrowing her brow.
Later, after I’d met my Fikriye and we’d embarked on our romance, the conversations with the landlady changed. She became our champion, delighting in the latest details of our courtship, fawning over Facebook photos of the two of us on our trips to Izmir, to Athens, to Paris. The landlady would needle me with questions about our wedding plans (I was evasive at first, and for a long time afterward).
And then the landlady fell ill. She was a workaholic (something else I always tried to admonish her about; she should take a holiday). Between her office job and looking after the flat, she’d developed an intestinal tumor. She sent a text message informing me that “Your mockingbird is ill,” and that she would be in the hospital for a while. I sent my regards, wishing her a speedy recovery.
After some weeks passed, we met for our rent chat. The landlady looked even paler than usual, but she said the surgery had been successful, and that she was doing better. I complimented her on her bravery, and as always insisted she take it easy and try to work less.
There was another thing, which I’m having a tough time getting around to. As I said, the tenants at the flat tended to come and go. Most of them came from Europe, or the States, and were enrolled in exchange programs at universities in Istanbul. They would stay a semester or two and then leave. Occasionally there were Turkish men (the landlady only rented to men; she said she wasn’t keen on having women because they would create lots of “drama” having their boyfriends over). The Turkish men I recall staying there were businessmen and recently divorced.
Looking back, I think one of the reasons (perhaps the only reason) that the landlady might have treated me any differently from the others is that I was long-term. I’d stayed there for two years, and so it was a relief to her perhaps to be able to count on at least one reliable tenant. To be sure, it must have been a pain in the ass for her to have to scrounge the Internet message boards for new tenants every few months.
And I’ll agree that some of the tenants were bad. But these were notable exceptions. The majority of those who stayed at the flat were easy-going kids. Sensing their freshness and naivety, the landlady put the fear of God in them (in her nice way) about keeping the flat clean, about not making noise, etc. There were some French guys who stayed about eight months, and never have I seen university students who were more conscientious than they were about housekeeping. By then, I was already beginning to spend most evenings at Fikriye’s flat in Üsküdar, popping in at the Kadıköy apartment only one or two evenings a week. But when I did drop by, the flat was clean, and the French boys would all be in their rooms quietly studying on their laptops.
I mentioned this to the landlady, and she too expressed satisfaction and delight – especially with the cleaning.
They left in the springtime, at the end of the semester. One morning after the French boys left, I was changing over from my winter boots to my spring shoes. I noticed something had been placed in the bottom of one of the shoes. It was a note, hand-written and apparently slipped there by one of the French boys. The note cautioned me not to trust the landlady, that she had not returned the deposit, and that I should be careful of her.
I was mildly shocked by the note. Past tenants had said similar things, but hearing it from the French boys put things in a different light. I mean, they had been really good tenants, conscientious, quiet. I could understand perhaps with some of the other tenants, but why these nice French boys?
It was at that moment that I began to suspect another side to the landlady, vaguely sinister even. I began to be a little afraid of her after that, why I don’t know. I thought about how, when I’d moved in two years before, she’d insisted that I pay first month, last month and a security deposit. I’d asked her why I had to pay the last month, when she could just keep the deposit. It was fairly standard practice in Istanbul, I argued.
The landlady had said, no, no. That was no good. The security deposit was meant to be there in case of damages, not to substitute as last month’s rent. She would return the deposit when I moved out. She preferred things that way. Grudgingly, I’d paid the money.
Then, some months later, I’d accidentally put a small hole in the mattress in my room (smoking at night while reading), and had also carelessly let a stray cigarette leave marks on the desk. The landlady didn’t kick me out, but did insist I pay for the mattress and the desk. She said I could take the damaged mattress and desk with me whenever I moved out. The total cost was more than 1,000 lira. Distraught, I’d consulted a close Turkish friend, who agreed that the bill was excessive (the mattress and the desk were both from IKEA, and he estimated the real cost should have been about 200 lira).
At the time, I’d told the landlady just to take the money out of my security deposit. No, no, she said. She didn’t want to do that. I would pay her now for the damage because she wanted to “be able to return all of my deposit when I left.” I was a friend: she wanted me to have all that money someday when I left, she said.
So I’d paid the 1,000 (in installments, over several months), and we were settled. I still didn’t like what she had done, or the way the way she had done it, but I had to concede that I had damaged the mattress and desk, and they did have to be accounted for. Nonetheless, when I read that note later on from the French guy, it was disturbing because it was my first real suspicion that I would never see my deposit when I left. No, that was just money; I had enough money and that didn’t really bother me. What disturbed me was that the landlady — my mockingbird, the girl who I’d at one time rather fancied remember – was… I don’t know. There was something wrong with her. Something weird about the way she treated people, at least those who were tenants. I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“It’s because you all are yabancı,” my Fikriye said, commiserating. As I said, she had the landlady’s card marked pretty early on. “She knows that she can take advantage of you. She knows that she can threaten you easily, with the police, with the courts, and you won’t want to get involved in that.”
I felt the same way. By this time, I was pretty much living with Fikriye and spending less and less time at the flat. The only reason I would go there, once or twice a week, was just to give Fikriye and myself a little personal space. It didn’t seem to make much sense – since I was paying a lot of money for a room I rarely used. But at the time Fikriye and I hadn’t made plans to get married yet, and so it made sense to keep the room as a kind of “island.” We called it our “retreat.”
Plus, to be honest, I was a little intimidated by the prospect of facing up to the landlady and telling her I wanted to move out. I was afraid she would go and find more damage somehow, and that there would be further demands for money, and there would be some unpleasantness. So I put things off.
Wait – I see I’ve forgotten to describe the flat itself.
Well, there’s not much too tell. My first impression of it was that it was “bright and airy,” that was one thing. It was on the top floor of an old building in Kadıköy, not far from the bustle of Rihtim Caddesi and the ferry boats in the Bosphorus. Umm… let’s see, you walk in, and the windows let in bright sunshine in the living room. On the window sill were several fake flowers (the landlady said they were easy since you didn’t have to water them). There was no sofa in the living room, just two “bench-like” things and a table. The landlady was fond of white, and so all the furnishings were white, or light-colored. This was always something of a mystery to me, since white is the hardest thing to keep clean and she was so insistent on the flat being clean, and yet mostly made her money from busy, careless college kids, who generally cannot be counted on to keep housekeeping at the top of their lists.
Hanging from the bright walls were cheap, but tasteful pastel pictures. The kitchen was small, like most Istanbul kitchens; so was the bath. They were the hardest to clean since the flat was somewhat old, and the floors and furnishings were dated as well. Whenever a tenant left the flat, the landlady herself would come and give the place a thorough scrubbing down. She always kept a pair of house shoes at the flat and parked them near the door. If you arrived and didn’t see the house shoes near the door, you could be sure she was there, bustling about with a rag.
(This was something, incidentally, that also nagged me somewhat about the landlady: the idea that she would just drop in – even if it was by necessity, such as a new tenant – without even a message prior. It was her place, I understand that, but we were the ones living there.)
There were four bedrooms, of varying sizes. My bedroom at the front of the flat, and the furthest one back with a balcony overlooking a garden, were the two biggest and most expensive; then there were two smaller, cheaper rooms. All of them were furnished with the landlady’s characteristic white-on-white taste and preference for no-maintenance fake flowers and cheap, tasteful pastel pictures hanging on the walls.
Oh, and there were those famous, smooth wood floors which we had to be careful to keep clean.
It wasn’t a bad flat, sure. There were definitely worse places to be found in Kadıköy (and certainly worse landlords, to be fair). Over the past few years, as rent prices have climbed in Istanbul, more and more people have taken to renting out rooms. Also, seeing the trend of renting to foreigners, many Istanbullus have started purchasing flats to sublet—a lucrative second income, if you will.
Our landlady was like that, too. The flat was really her investment. So I suppose it was understandable, justifiable, on her end to look after that investment. You may ask, why didn’t she just rent the entire flat out to a nice, quiet Turkish family? She could count on them being long-term, plus she wouldn’t have the hassles and risks associated with renting to yabancılar, to college students.
The reason probably was price. She could get more from foreigners. Plus, by renting out the individual rooms separately, as opposed to the whole deal, she could multiply her earnings: four rents as opposed to one, with the inflated rent prices, makes for a tidy sum, I suppose.
So perhaps it made good business sense, even if it meant she had to deal with the stress of finding new tenants every few months, and of (to her mind) constantly having to police the place to make sure her investment wasn’t being wrecked by a pack of filthy, beer-swilling, party-giving yabancılar.
I can see that, for sure. And from our rent chats, I gathered a lot of this from her, both directly and inferred. We commiserated over this or that tenant, and I tried to show sympathy for the constant stress she had looking after the place. On a few occasions, when she was preparing for a new tenant’s arrival, I even pitched in and helped her clean up the rooms. Often there would be a trash bag or two of odds and ends left behind by the previous tenant. We’d set these bags in a corner of the living room, on the chance their owners might return. They seldom, if ever did, and to my knowledge some of those bags to this day are still sitting in that corner of the living room.
I don’t think it was always this way. In the beginning, I think the landlady got into it with good intentions. She really wasn’t a bad sort. Her English was excellent, and she possessed a certain grace, even charm, in her dealings with foreigners (provided they were the “right” foreigners). In fact, part of the reason she got into the business of renting out the flat was not just money. She truly enjoyed the company of the people, at least for a while. She saw them as friends, and treated them as such.
For instance, before I moved in, an English colleague from my school was living there. He invited me to a Christmas party at the flat, and it was my first time there. It was a lovely, memorable afternoon, with the flat decorated in a cheerful, festive manner, and the whole place smelling of warm, home-cooked food, and music playing. Most of the attendees were English teachers, with a few Erasmus students thrown in. The landlady, who was also invited, stopped by in the evening and I remember being introduced to her. She approved of the party, and the guests, and I recall having a nice chat with her.
Perhaps then, it was bad luck or something. Maybe she didn’t feel that the tenants who came afterward were of the same standard. They weren’t “nice people,” like the English colleague and the others at the party that evening. Or maybe fatigue set in, tenant-fatigue. You just get exhausted, cynical after a while.
In fact, the landlady said as much over one of our rent chats. “They all leave me,” she said, wistfully. We’d been talking of the English colleague, who had moved out (I’d taken his room). He was engaged to a Turkish girl. The landlady confided to me that the English guy had actually been in love with her, and that the reason why he’d moved out was because she’d politely but firmly refused him, reminding him of their business arrangement.
“Anyway,” she’d say, sipping her tea wistfully. “In the end, they all leave me.”
At this point, reader, you may be feeling a sense of weightlessness. How much time has passed? Well, about two years on the whole. I’ll fast forward to the recent present, about the time when Fikriye and I decided to get married.
One morning, on my way to work, I stopped by the flat, just to pick up some books for a lesson. There was nobody there, and I quickly went to my room to retrieve the books. Something caught my eye in the living room. The TV. Something looked “off” about it. The screen. It was all scratched up, a series of zig-zags, as if someone had attacked it with a sharp object. I was in somewhat of a hurry, so for a moment nothing registered. But then my eye traveled to the wall. The picture – the cheap, floral picture – had also been slashed. There was a deep gouge right down the middle.
That’s when I knew something was wrong. In a kind of shocked trance, I went down the hallway, looking for more damage. In the kitchen, everything looked OK, and the bathroom as well. At the end of the hallway, the door to one of the rooms was open. The door itself had been attacked, for there were cracks and splinters. In the room, the walls had evidently been gouged with the same sharp object, for there were broad, aggressive outlines all over, swirls of anger. Trash had been dumped all over the bed.
I had to get to work, so I didn’t take the time to really process what had happened. But it seemed pretty clear. An Italian Erasmus student had been staying in that room for the past few months. Now, it appeared, he had left the flat, and judging from his path of destruction, he’d had some dispute with the landlady. Most likely, his deposit had not been returned, or he’d been forced to pay more money at the end somehow.
Almost at that precise moment, a Turkish guy, who was renting one of the other rooms, came home. I asked him if he knew what had transpired, and he confirmed my assessment, that the Italian student had inflicted the damage as a measure of revenge for a perceived wrong done to him by the landlady.
If it had been an isolated incident, I might have immediately dismissed such a notion and sided with the landlady. After all, the damage was shocking, and whatever “wrong” she may or may not have done didn’t justify destroying property. It was still vandalism. I wasn’t thinking that at the time, though; I thought about these things later.
At the time, I was thinking more about things like the note the French guy had left in my shoe, or about a Nigerian man who’d come to the flat one night after he’d moved out, furious because he claimed that the landlady had lied to him about returning his deposit, had instead stood him up at an agreed-upon meeting and then had the locks to the flat changed.
There were the times when I’d returned to the flat, only to find someone completely new, a stranger, living in one of the rooms. What happened to the previous tenant? “Oh, I had to ask him to leave,” the landlady would say, with a trace of regret in her voice. “He was not a good character, not a good person.”
It had happened so many times, and now this had happened. Finally, it seemed, someone had turned the tables on her.
“It looks like justice,” my Fikriye said that evening over dinner. “You can’t keep screwing people over and not expect some kind of reaction.”
We decided that this was a good time to leave the flat. Nevertheless, I did try to contact the landlady. After all, I had been her tenant for two years, and she was something of a friend. But phone calls and text messages went unanswered. I assumed that she knew about the situation at the flat, and perhaps was not responding either out of embarrassment or because she was focused on dealing with the Italian.
So I emailed her, explaining that I’d decided to move out. As a precaution, I also reminded her of our original agreement, that I’d paid first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit. She could keep the deposit, I wrote.
The next morning, I went to the flat, packed my things, and cleaned the room top to bottom. I wanted the landlady to see that I at least had a measure of respect for her property and for our business relationship. Then, I placed the keys on the nightstand, grabbed my bags, and headed out.
A few months passed. Fikriye and I settled in together, and it was truly better. I had a home at last. We were happy and comfortable. Our wedding plans moved forward. We set a date for July.
Occasionally, we’d discuss the situation at the old flat, wondering how things had worked out. There was still no word from the landlady. We speculated on various theories, and then finally with resigned shrugs let the whole matter blow quietly away.
By late June, we were set to have an engagement dinner at a restaurant in Kadıköy. Fikriye’s family were coming up to Istanbul from their town in southern Turkey.
One evening, as we were lying on the sofa watching TV, I noticed there was a missed call and a message on my phone. It was Onur, a friend of ours whom I had once shared the old flat with. He’d stayed there for a few months after his divorce, then moved into his own place.
“The landlady called me today,” he wrote. “Her mobile is open. She is crazy about the damage the Italian guy did! She would like to know what happened. That is strange, but she can even blame you, so it is better to talk to her and explain the situation.”
I showed Fikriye the message. She called Onur immediately, and they talked about it in Turkish for a few minutes. Fikriye was furious. So was I.
“How could she even think of blaming me?” I asked aloud. “I wasn’t even there when it happened?”
Fikriye and Onur agreed to set a meeting with the landlady for the following evening. It would be the three of us and the landlady. I was relieved they were going along. It would be better actually to let them discuss the matter in Turkish.
Besides that, I was more than unsettled. I was vaguely terrified, along with being outraged. It seemed to me, going over the matter, that the landlady had probably tried to get in touch with the Italian. He’d probably already gone back to Italy and was out of reach. Now, desperately, angrily, she was looking for someone to pay for the damage to the flat. Perhaps she was conceiving some way in which I could be held accountable.
She would use the fact that I’d left the flat abruptly, perhaps. Why had I left the flat so quickly, unless I was somehow involved? I could see her mind working on that angle. But I had made several attempts to contact her, by phone, by text message, and had even sent an email – all of which had gone unanswered. Fikriye could vouch for that.
“I don’t know why you are so afraid of her,” Fikriye said, chiding me for my squeamishness. “She’s just one woman.”
“You don’t know her,” I said.
Actually, the thing I feared most was that, justly or not, the landlady could bring the matter to the attention of the police or some other legal authority. Even if I was able to resolve the matter, having such things on my record could present problems in the future, such as when I went to renew my Turkish residency permit.
“This woman needs a kick in the ass,” Fikriye said. “Tomorrow night, we will settle this business with her.”
Having Fikriye at my side made me feel better. After all, she was a pretty determined woman herself, and her sister was a lawyer who could help us if things came to that point.
We went back to our TV program. In the back of our minds, the next evening loomed: a showdown between my old landlady and my future bride.
The meeting was set for 6 p.m. at a coffee shop near the Rexx Cinema in Kadıköy. I met Fikriye at the ferry station, and we walked together to the cinema. Our friend Onur was already there. He really was a decent fellow, taking time from his own busy schedule to assist in a matter that did not concern him directly.
We sat together at a table on the patio with a clear view of the street, so that the landlady could easily spot us when she arrived. The waiter brought us coffee, and we smoked cigarettes and chatted nervously. Yes, we were all nervous! Even Fikriye was, to her own surprise.
Fifteen minutes passed, a half hour. Onur, who was acting as a kind of mediator, called the landlady several times before she finally answered. Yes, she was on her way. Ten minutes.
“Unbelievable!” Fikriye said. “She was the one who insisted on this meeting and she is already a half hour late. What if we have other plans? Well, we’ll sit here just ten minutes more and if she doesn’t show up, we’ll just leave.”
We finished our coffee and ordered tea. We smoked more cigarettes, scanning the street nervously. It was a quarter to seven. We were just about ready to get up, when suddenly the landlady arrived. Onur rose and greeted her first, with a polite hug and kisses on both cheeks. I followed suit, and then she and Fikriye were introduced.
We sat down, and ordered tea for the landlady. She told us she’d been ill again (the tumor had returned, and she’d had another operation, which she said was the reason she’d been out of contact). We offered our sympathies.
Next, they got down to the business at hand, speaking mostly in Turkish but also switching to English now and again for my benefit. I preferred it that way, and tried not to make eye contact with the landlady. It was more than awkward seeing her again.
“Are you alright?” she asked me at one point. “You look a little pale.”
“Do I? I’m fine.” How could I say that seeing her again made me feel ill myself!
Actually, the meeting went a lot better than I expected, or feared. I was afraid there would be soaring accusations, or that the two women would begin shouting at each other, that there would be some kind of scene.
But everyone adopted a civil tone, and we discussed the situation in a very matter-of-fact way. It seems that the landlady was going to take the matter to court. She needed testimony from the Turkish tenant and myself against the Italian, or so she said. I agreed to cooperate if necessary.
With tact, I expressed my sympathy for her situation, taking the opportunity to say that I’d tried contacting her before moving out of the flat, and reminding her of the email in which I’d reiterated our business agreement – the first and last month’s rent, the security deposit, etc.
“It’s OK,” the landlady said. “I know you are an honest person. You don’t owe me any money.”
The rest of the meeting involved more discussion of the Italian and her future plans. She was going to find a “nice, Turkish family” to rent the flat. No more Erasmus students, no more yabancılar.
We agreed it would be better for her. After all, she didn’t need the stress, not with her health.
“Oh, by the way,” Fikriye said. “My sister is a lawyer, so if you need any help…”
The landlady nodded.
Afterward, we all walked together down to the Bosphorus, where we shook hands earnestly with Onur. I thanked him again for his help. Also, the two women shook hands civilly, exchanging contact information. The landlady congratulated Fikriye and I on our wedding plans.
“So am I invited to the wedding?” she asked.
Taken aback, Fikriye and I looked at each other.
“Of course,” my love said. “If you will answer your phone!”
We said good-bye to the landlady, and then walked together along the waterfront to get a minibus home. It was sunset, and many people were out walking.
I breathed a sigh of relief, but also knocked on invisible wood.
“Do you feel better?” Fikriye asked.
“Yes,” I said. “That was not so bad actually.”
“I had to keep telling myself to keep my mouth shut,” Fikriye said, laughing. “There were so many things I wanted to say to that woman!”
“Well, she seemed reasonable enough,” I went on. “She did say that she wasn’t expecting any money from me.”
“I think she went there expecting to get something from you,” Fikriye said. “But then she saw the three of us there, and she backed down. And I couldn’t help but say – ‘By the way, my sister is a lawyer…’ Sometimes in this country, it is necessary.”
We were both relieved, as we rode the bus back to our neighborhood. We talked about the upcoming engagement dinner, and how I still needed to buy shoes. Shoes, and the ring as well. The ring was the most difficult part. I knew nothing about rings. And there was the boat for the party after the wedding. Fikriye was still checking prices. There was a boat in Eminönü that she wanted to have a look at, if she could get time off work.
“There’s still so much more to do,” she said, with a sigh. We were getting married. We couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable. But now, we felt stronger, the evening’s ordeal having reinforced our union.
“Are you hungry?” I asked. “Shall we get some dinner, my love?”
“Yeah. What shall we eat?”
“Whatever you want.”
We got off the bus and walked through the streets of our neighborhood. We were home, and it was time to eat. The trees were blown up full of a bright, green breeze; the cafes were full of people out having dinner and watching the sunset.