With these worries, I was standing one day on the large bridge between Pera and Stamboul. Leaning on the parapet, I began to ponder on the sense and significance of the continuous movement of the whirling dervishes, which at first glance seems automatic and without any participation of the consciousness. Under the bridge and near it, steamers were constantly passing and small boats plied unceasingly in every direction.
On the Galata shore next to the bridge, there was a landing stage for the steamers crossing between Constantinople and the opposite shore of the Bosphorus. Near this landing stage, around the arriving and departing steamers, I saw boys swimming about and diving for coins thrown by people from the steamers. This interested me a great deal. I went nearer and looked on. Without any hurry the boys very skilfully retrieved the coins thrown by the passengers in different places, without missing a single one.
I watched for a long time, admiring the ease and dexterity of these boys, who were of various ages, from eight to about eighteen. Suddenly the thought entered my head: ‘Why should not I also take up this profession? Am I any worse than these boys?’ And on the following day I went to the shore of the Golden Horn, to a place just below the Admiralty, to learn how to dive.
While practising my diving I even chanced to come across a teacher, a certain Greek, an expert, who used to go there to bathe. He taught me of his own accord some of the details of this ‘great wisdom’ and the rest I drew out of him by cunning—then already proper to me—over a cup of coffee which we took after bathing, in a Greek cafe near by. Of course, I will not go into details as to who paid for the coffee.
At first it was very difficult. One had to dive down with open eyes and the seawater irritated the membranes of my eyes, causing sharp pain, especially at night. But soon they grew accustomed to it and I began to see as freely in the water as in the air.
Two weeks later I began to ‘earn’ a living around the steamers, with the local boys of all ages, by fishing for coins. Of course, I was not too successful at first, but very soon I never missed a single one.