Sunday, December 21, 2008


"My friends, there is no need to seek and revive the costume of Turan. A civilized, international dress is worthy and appropriate for our nation, and we will wear it. Boots or shoes on our feet, trousers on our legs, shirt and tie, jacket and waistcoat - and, of course, to complete these, a cover with a brim on our heads. I want to make this clear. This head-covering is called 'hat'"

I doubt Atatürk would have foreseen pigeons resting on his head rather than a hat when he instituted the Hat Law in 1925, but that's how things roll, I guess.

This sight had me immediately thinking of Elizabeth at the time - it's taken some five months for this picture to make its way here, but hopefully it'll provide some amusement in the midst of exams. I still hope to do an Atatürk post - so many great photos for that, but I have been stuck in what can only be described as a weird state of ennui. Oh well.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Air India. Circa 1975.

From the pages of the New Yorker (14th July 1975 issue)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Divan Yolu Mezarlık, İstanbul

Forgotten graves, Nizamuddin, New Delhi

The Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator, Singapore

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


At times … I wish
I could meet in a duel
the man who killed my father
and razed our home,
expelling me
a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I’d rest at last,
and if I were ready—
I would take my revenge!
But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who’d put
his right hand over
the heart’s place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they’d set—
then I would not kill him,
even if I could.
Likewise … I
would not murder him
if it were soon made clear
that he had a brother or sisters
who loved him and constantly longed to see him.
Or if he had a wife to greet him
and children who
couldn’t bear his absence
and whom his gifts would thrill.
Or if he had
friends or companions,
neighbors he knew
or allies from prison
or a hospital room,
or classmates from his school ...
asking about him
and sending him regards.
But if he turned
out to be on his own—
cut off like a branch from a tree—
without a mother or father,
with neither a brother nor sister,
wifeless, without a child,
and without kin or neighbors or friends,
colleagues or companions,
then I’d add not a thing to his pain
within that aloneness—
not the torment of death,
and not the sorrow of passing away.
Instead I’d be content to ignore him when I passed him by
on the street—as I
convinced myself
that paying him no attention
in itself was a kind of revenge.

- Taha Muhammad Ali
Translated from the Arabic by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi, and Gabriel Levin. (

Monday, December 08, 2008


Birthday Lights

Also, I was gifted the complete New Yorker portable hard drive. Every issue since 1925! Awesome-est gift ever!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's over

The news was confirmed today once the Taj was rid of terrorists and the NSG took over the building. It's terribly heartbreaking - I know India hasn't been immune to bombs and terror but it's just such a shock to have people you know and love and respect being involved in it. My heart goes out to her husband and her two children.

This has been said before, but I really need to put it down here - I wish the media was more responsible. For what the shoving of cameras into the faces of people who were waiting in terror or who had lost their loved ones? Why the continuous close ups of the dead bodies in Nariman House? Can we have no respect for the dead? For those suffering?

As I write, the jingoism has already begun. I really don't see how the Congress will ever come back to power - as my dad has been saying almost like a broken record, this what you have when you have a government based on tribal politics and loyalty and no merit whatsoever. And there is no denying that this administration has been largely pathetic but the thought of the BJP coming back is terrible. I don't think anti-Pakistan rhetoric or a shift to right wing politics is even remotely useful - what will that ever solve? It's sad that the most common thing I have heard in the last few days is that the at least the US never suffered any attacks after 9/11 - that at least George W. dealt with toughness. What the US has lost in the wake of the draconian measures that government took will take years of fixing and has affected all of us.

Also, I wish Narendra Modi would shut the fuck up.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Have given up watching the coverage on television, mostly because I can't take it any more. My uncle, aunt, cousins were having dinner at the Taj when firing broke out. They were lucky and managed to get out in the first few hours. My old boss - she was editor of the publication I was interning with right out of school - was trapped in a corner room of the Taj. Last night I heard there had been no news from her since early that morning. Today they are saying she hasn't made it. We had exchanged emails just a few days back.

I am so sad and so, so angry.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I have been watching the news for nearly five hours now and the insanity of the whole thing still hasn't sunk in yet. I don't think I've been this close to being in tears in a really long time. Those were all my places dammit. My uncle used to live at NCPA for the longest time - that's the stretch of Bombay I know best. And the policemen whose names are flashing on the television - those are people I know too. My mom called up to say she couldn't watch the coverage anymore, saying she was going to try and sleep and asking me to pray for the people and for the Taj. "I don't want to wake up and see the dome gone."
I'm so tired and angry and frustrated. And I don't pray much, but I don't know what else to do.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


"If Lord Hanuman can make Barack Obama victorious, why not me?"
- BJP candidate Vijay Jolly who is contesting against Delhi CM Sheila Dixit in the state elections

Bonus Update:

Even more idiocy (via K) - Batman sues Batman.

Batman has a new adversary: Batman.
The mayor of an oil-producing city in southeastern Turkey, which has the same name as the Caped Crusader, is suing helmer
Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. for royalties from mega-grosser "The Dark Knight."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Istanbullu Kediler

So, basically I should be working but I have been so terribly distracted by everything. I need to be kept away from book shops – I went and bought Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil when I should actually have been reading about Ziya Gökalp and Turkish nationalism. Oh well. I have been reading about Islam and secularism today and this whole bit about the celebration of the conquest of Istanbul day – not a public holiday, but celebrated with huge fanfare in Islamist circles, though also open to the public, and creating an alternate to the national narrative of history – got me all distracted. Anyway, all this is beside the point. I am now procrastinating and writing this post that I had wanted to eons back. But I am lazy and so this has taken a few months. This post, by the way, is about Istanbullu cats - Istanbullu kediler.

Cats are everywhere in Istanbul. They literally run riot in the city, probably an equivalent to the mice in Hamlin. They walk lazily into the mosque court yards, sun themselves in the public squares, at the Sahaflar Çarşısı they laze on top of the books and amongst the prayer beads that are on sale. Istanbul is, like many very old cities, a city of the dead – graveyards keep popping up especially in the old city and of course, in the mosque complexes. Cats abound there too – sleeping on elaborate tombs, stretching and yawning and showing an utter lack of respect for the poor souls resting in the leafy compounds. Last year I was having çay at the open and airy Kaffeehaus at Tünel (sadly no longer there – it’s been replaced by another café place which I didn’t visit) only to have a big black ball of fur come and jump into my lap. Perhaps it’s because Istanbul is a sea city with an abundance of fish that the cats like walking its streets so much.

This overabundance of cats is in a way curious – Constantinople through history was always known as the city of dogs. Apparently mongrels used to rule the streets, barking into the night and being a general pain for the city’s municipality. They ate up the garbage but then equaled that out by littering the city with their droppings. Efforts were made to get rid of the dogs under a latter day Ottoman Sultan but the dogs were considered lucky by the residents and they were brought back from the island they had been shipped off to. Once the Young Turks came to power though, their brutality didn’t spare even the city’s dogs. A failure at providing the country a constitutional government -their main aim – they did manage to clean up the city’s streets and drains. In 1910, the packs of dogs that had for centuries been a feature of Constantinople’s streets were collected and shipped to a waterless island once again – this time to perish. Apparently, the whines and barks of the dying canines echoed across the Marmara for moths.

You do see dogs sometimes – but they are rare and usually domestic. With the dogs gone it’s perhaps no wonder that cats rule the streets. They also seemingly rule the hearts of the kind Istanbullus, who do go out of their way to feed and often pet them and happily share with them the streets of their city. I have to say here that I have always been a dog person – I don’t have any great liking for cats – but the ones in Istanbul seem to have grown on me, too.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Spent a few days last week travelling in Rajasthan. Was in Mewar - Delwara, Udaipur, Haldighati, Ranakpur, Kumbhalgarh, Chittaurgarh among other places. We easily drove 1000+ kilometres through the Aravallis. I have visited Udaipur and Chittaur before, but it's been almost 8 years since.

Took very many pictures - so many green doors!! I have any photos of green doors from just this trip to fill have a book or something. And also some of very red safa's. Should share some stories too. Had coffee with the Maharana of Udaipur - no story here except he came out of his palace to drop us to the car and the tourists outside went crazy taking pictures. Quite amusing. My sister was fairly kicked about this whole encounter only to have me throw some wet water on that by reminding her that he was basically a commoner now, so no big deal. Except you get to see these crazy ass palatial houses that are so stuffed with stuff (what else will they be stuffed with) that there's not one inch of empty space. Imagine living in a treasure chest - sort of cramped.

Should also tell of the most interesting museum celebrating Pratap Singh I visited in Haldighati. A full celebration of the Maharana as the first freedom fighter in India. (Really? What about Shivaji? Or am I wrong?). All complete with with Hindu imagery. Ah, nationalism. That's a story for another time, though, I am not making much sense now. That's what happens when you have all these stupid applications to fill up and SOP's to think about. And it's not even like I have managed to get much work done. Sucketh.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Living History

Barack Hussein Obama
The 44th President (Elect) of the United States

Monday, October 27, 2008


Have been busy, first with work and then the GRE. The exam is done with, thank god. What a waste of time and money and what a pain in the ass. Seriously.

Anyway, I am free for a bit now - it's a long story - though I guess technically not free, since I should be working on my applications. But I am in Delhi for a while and it's rather nice, especially since I haven't been home for Diwali for close to five years. I have been lazing around for the last few days, catching up on things I haven't literally had time for. I finished The Case of Exploding Mangoes and am in the middle of Netherland and am most certainly in some kind of love with Joseph O'Neill.

Today we ordered in food from Colonel Kebabz and I spent the evening with the amazingly gorgeous Madhuri Dixit - they were showing Aaja Nachle on TV. It's amazing how she just gets more beautiful by the year, but I have always loved her. So I am stuffed and happy and off to bed with Mr. O'Neill now.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The City

You won't find a new country, won't find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You'll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You'll always end up in this city. Don't hope for things elsewhere:
there's no ship for you, there's no road.

C.P. Cavafy
Translated by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard

Note: Quoting out of context, I know. The poem in full here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Visual Brilliance

Via Elizabeth and Sepoy, two things you must drop everything to see.

First, over at the The Big Picture a truly stunning photo essay - Observing Ramadan.

Then, watch this brilliant madness (via). I nearly died laughing watching this - Turkish desi kitsch!! Dear lord. Turk pop superstar Mustafa Sandal has been mentioned on this blog before (mostly because I have harboured a long held obsession with his song Isyankar), but really, who'd have thunk he would be doing Bollywood impersonations. Oh, just go watch!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Deserted houses and a particular shade of green

Fener, Istanbul. July 2008

I was asked for photos of green doors - I do have some that could suffice, but I decided to share one of doors and windows with a generous dose of yellow thrown in. There was heavy restoration going on the old district of Fener this time. Probably in light of Istanbul being the European capital of culture in 2010 - the European Commission is financing the whole project. I felt a bit ambivalent about the whole thing, quite honestly. Partly because Fener and Balat - despite their historic significance, maybe because they are conservative neighbourhoods - tend to be neglected by the hordes of tourists that visit the city. Which made those districts even more fun to navigate and discover, this year and last.

This time I could more or less navigate my way through the area without the help of a map, which are in all honesty, fairly useless anyway. The streets defy the maps without fail. Mostly people would be amused, wondering what I was up to taking photos of broken, rotten, deserted old houses. Some 57 houses are being restored as part of the rehabilitation program and given the usual fate that befalls old houses in Istanbul I am glad that they will be saved. But, and I might sound silly and callous in saying this, partly I like those neighbourhoods because those houses are dilapidated and often forgotten and I suspect I prefer worn out to freshly painted.

I have to come clean here and admit that one of the houses that is undergoing restoration is one I photographed last year. The photograph of that lovely green door which is undoubtedly a huge favourite. If you look carefully at the picture above you should be able to make out the green door - I got in only the top as most of the door is now barricaded, the house awaiting restoration. I was so happy that the house hadn't been broken down or some such, but then the immediate thought right after that was, "But they will never ever be able to get that shade of green..." And for that I felt a great sense of sadness and loss.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Scattered ruins at Efes. July 2008.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Randomness. And some links.

Sigh. I am tired. I have been unwell since Saturday - a bout of the flu apparently. Awful blocked nose and fever and a very sore throat. Also been facing general non happy situation at work, so it's been a shitty few weeks. Major cheer up happened yesterday, though. I got published! No online source I can link to unfortunately, but I was mailed the PDF version of the article yesterday and have been quite kicked about it since. Basically a reworked version of the food in Istanbul post. I've seen my byline in print before, but never had my photographs published. And I get paid for it too. So nice.

Life has been rather uneventful - I don't even have much to write about. I'm trying to study for the GRE and have been thinking about grad schools and applications and what I propose to do if I get in. The whole process is so painful. Most of my reading of late has been confined to the topic of Turkey, as a result. And in between, snatches of poetry - Lorca and Pessoa, as of now. I borrowed Mohammed Hanif's A Case of Exploding Mangoes but haven't started it yet. I also really want to read Joseph O'Niell's Netherland - I have been for a fairly long while -, though is it wrong for me to admit that this is also in some part due to the fact that O'Niell is rather hot? (So, I googled O'Niell while I am writing this and Wikipedia informs me that he has Turkish ancestry? Are you kidding me?)

On the topic of authors (and Turkey) Orhan Pamuk's new book Masumiyet Muzesi came out in Turkey a couple of weeks back. It'll still be a year plus or so till the English translation comes out, which kind of sucks. Pamuk has been doing the round promoting the book - he was at the Frankfurt Book Fair and Deutsche Welle had a rather nice interview with him. He also spoke with Today's Zaman about, among other things, the museum he is setting up in Çukurcuma. I love that he says "I have always loved those neighbourhoods", because those are my favourite areas of Istanbul, too. God only knows how many hours I have spent in the narrow lanes and antique shops of Çukurcuma. That museum has been in the works for a while, and when the whole 301, death threats nonsense happened there was talk about it not opening. I'm glad it is. My friend's professor is helping Pamuk with the museum, so I am also kicked at having some two degrees of separation from the man. My friend herself has interacted with him and as a result I learnt all sorts of gossip about him over the Istanbul trip. Most amusing stuff. Also, I must be the only freak to notice these things but apart from the fact that Pamuk's desk resembles my own, as it is now, in terms of messiness he also has new sexy (and geeky!) glass frames. I approve.

And to end, things on the internets you should be reading. Fëanor has set up a new blog Sundry Translations and Other Tangentialia intended for translated articles from the non-English world. The first post on Armenian Istanbul, has been translated by him from the original Russian set of articles by Mark Grigorian.

For anyone who likes food, beautiful pictures or just wants to read something that makes them feel happy and all fuzzy, please go read Tori's wonderful blog Loves Apples which is not a food blog as much as a celebration of food.

Over at Slate, Juan Cole argues that only difference between Muslim fundamentalists and Sarah Palin is lipstick. And (via Beth) why rednecks may rule the world.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sokak Müziği

Tünel, located around the southern part of İstiklal Caddesi, is where music in İstanbul really comes alive. Every second shop in the area sells musical instruments or is a makeshift recording studio. Music is always heard there - on the street or from some inner room of the shops. One of the most surreal memories I have of the city from last year is walking down one of the crazy twisted steep streets of Beyoğlu and suddenly being enveloped by amazing music. I was alone on that street, the music was everywhere and I had no idea where the sound was coming from. I eventually tracked it down to a studio in one of the side alleys, where some musicians were recording - it was amazing and mostly just made me fall a little bit more in love.

Music is heard not only late at night, at the tiny bars which take over the streets in summer and the meyhanes, but at all times of the day, especially on the weekends. One of my favourite films, Fatih Akın's İstanbul Hatırası: Köprüyü Geçmek (Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of İstanbul), has an entire segment on the sokak müziği - street music - of the city. Akın follows the band Siya Siyabend in what is probably my favourite section (and favourite scene!) of the movie. I remember downloading a bunch of songs off their website (available free), immediately after I finished watching the movie - they have been a perpetual feature on my playlist since.

The sokak müziği band I absolutely adore though, is one called Kara Güneş (MySpace page here). I have been listening to them for what feels like eons now (my mom loves them too!), so it was a huge, unexpected thrill to chance upon them performing on İstiklal on my last day in the city. I happily plonked myself down on the ground listening to the music, clicking pictures and having a brief chat with some of them during their break - they were, I think, somewhat amused that I knew of their existence. Of all the music discs I bought in İstanbul, theirs is the one I love and treasure most - all fantastic new stuff I hadn't heard before, with lots of santur.

For anyone even remotely into music, the sounds of İstanbul are truly worth exploring. Akın's movie is great introduction - go watch it now! For people too lazy to get the DVD, the movie is available on google video, albeit with pretty random subtitles (the very first line has Confucius turned into Cumfukius). To listen to music on the Kara Güneş or Siya Siyabend sites click on 'Diskografi' and then 'Dinle' for whichever song you want to hear. To download, click on 'İndir' and then right click and 'Save As' on the 'Link' that appears. Enjoy, and tell me if you liked.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On rooftops. Across cities.

Coming back to the ground. New Delhi. April 2008

Pointing at the sun. Istanbul. July 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

That İstanbul food post?

Is here.

Not my fault that Blogger is acting completely jerk like.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mahmoud Darwish (1941- 2008)

Mahmoud Darwish (13 March 1941 - 9 August 2008)

Stunned and saddened immensely to hear of Mahmoud Darwish's untimely death. What a great loss. Darwish was probably my favourite of all the contemporary poets I have read and one of my all time favourites. Along with Faiz and Hikmet, one of the poets to have affected me most deeply. At this point, the great man's words themselves seem the most apt. RIP.

'One of the manifestations of a Palestinian poet's freedom is that he will not be tied down by the conditions placed by the Israelis. It's a sensitive issue and I might even be misunderstood saying this: that I can write a love poem and it is a form of resistance; that I can write about a tree or a beautiful morning and that too is a form of resistance.'

Below, lines from the Jidariyya:

Is what used to be mine: my yesterday, and what will be mine
My far away tomorrow, the return of the lost soul
As if nothing ever was
As if nothing ever was
A small wound in the arms of the absurd present...
And History mocks its victims
And its heroes...
He throws a glance on them and passes...
This sea is mine
This humid air is mine
And my name –
Even if I misspell it on my coffin –Is mine.
As for me — full as I am
Of all the reasons for parting
I am not mine.
I am not mine
I am not mine...

Friday, August 08, 2008

İstanbul Food Porn

One of the pleasures of being back in İstanbul was seeing all those foods that I had missed so much. Walking past baklavacı shop windows with the familiar sight of all sorts and shapes of baklava displayed by the tray - that gorgeous shade of antepfıstıklı green is a sight for sore eyes.

Then, of course, there were simits - sold everywhere, eaten every day. Most often on the vapur, which I would catch from Kadıköy to Eminönü. They just make for the best breakfasts.

İstanbul is an amazing place for on-the-go street food. Not just simits but also roasted chestnuts, fish sandwiches, döners. I would often pop by the Mısır Çarşısı (The Spice or Egyptian Bazaar) and buy hundred grams of fındık (hazelnuts), which I love so much, to munch on while I walked. The other favourite is corn on the cob - also mısır (in Turkish Mısır is Egpt, mısır is also corn) - either boiled or roasted, available at all times of day or night.

For dinner on my friends birthday we headed to Çiya - often touted as the best lokanta in the city. We walked into the restaurant and looked into cauldron after cauldron of stuff cooking, bubbling, stewing. The names all escape me now and I was also trying to get pictures of the chef with all that food - unfortunately they all turned out somewhat hazy - but I eventually chose a meatball and vişne (sour cherry) dish and meat dish with chickpeas and leeks cooked in a yoghurt sauce flavoured with safran.

If it sounds delish its because it was. We munched on very, very yummy lahmacun while we waited for the food to arrive. The meat and vişne dish was good, but the yoğurt and safran dish was truly amazing - and very unique, I can't even think of how to describe those flavours! My friend and I also shared a plate of mantı (see also Elizabeth's post on mantı) - quite different in flavour from the more regular versions mantı I had eaten in Turkey, but no less delicious.

Fish was had everywhere, as usual. İstanbul is very much a sea city and fish has a special place in its diet, as evidenced by the drain covers at Kumkapı. The balık sandwiches at the Eminönü docks are the best for a quick bite and the fish soup at the Karaköy Balıkcısı is simply to die for. Then there's always the option of taking a ride all the way up the bosphorous to Sarıyer and eating fresh fish sitting along the insanely gorgeous waterfront all the while feeling terribly jealous of those who own one of the old yalıs that dot the coast.

are another absolute favourite - especially su böreği - layers of yufka with cheese and parsley. Found everywhere, but the ones at Özsüt are particularly good.

One afternoon, at the Beyazit Meydanı, I decided to prepare for a bit of Kapalı Çarşı wandering and bought a bit of börek from the börekçi at the square - an adorable old man who I ended up having a long chat with. He cut up my börek, wrapped it up and refused to charge me for it!

I didn't make it to Hacı Abdullah this year but did eat hünkar beğendi at Havuzlu in the bazaar (bargaining makes you hungry!). Nowhere near as good as the one I ate last year at Hacı Abdullah - that is a difficult standard to match up to - but pretty good overall.

Also eaten, at some point, in the midst of all the stuffing that was happening in İstanbul - midye dolması. Again, not anywhere near as good as the ones had in İzmir, but delish none the less.

My last night in the city we went to Sofyalı 9, in the Asmalımescıt area, for rakı and mezze. I have only fuzzy memories but I do remember that the food was very, very good and we went through many helpings - one patlıcan mezze was particularly yum. I also remember my friend at one point deciding that she wanted almonds and paying 10YTL for a plate of cold blanched ones sold by one of the many vendors who keep passing though. They were very good - though she did spend a good while moaning about how easily she manages to get herself cheated into buying over priced things!

One of the many joys of İstanbul are the weekly neighbourhood pazaars, where fresh produce meet all kinds of consumer goods. The Salı Pazaar (Tuesday market) at Kadıköy is a whole beast of its own - going on for miles and miles. The fruits being sold were awesome - amazingly red karpuzlar, şeftali (peaches - you get just the best şeftali juices in Turkey and I miss them terribly!) and luscious red domatesler.

No talk of İstanbul food can be complete without an entire section on the sweets of the city. It was here that I completely indulged my sweet tooth - often having just baklava or kunefe for lunch or fırın sütlaç for breakfast. Sometimes, I would just stop at the roadside carts and indulge my sweet cravings, especially with those disgustingly sweet, amazingly yummy, gulab jamun like lokmas...mmmm....

Fırın sütlaç was had everywhere and while the best ones are at Özsüt, a particularly good one was bought somewhere at Eminönü to carry on to the boat for the trip up the Bosphorous, all the way to the Black Sea.

Baklava pit stops were made mostly at various Güllüoğlus across the city but a special trip is always reserved for the one at Karaköy. I got a whole box of goodies packed - sadly almost all finished now! and then sat and indulged in a portion of sütlü nüriye. You know its good baklava when you can see all the filo layers like that! Though I think my sweet tooth might be in recession as all that sugary, syrupy sweetness was a bit much even for me this time and I decided to just stick to the good old (also very sweet) fıstıklı from now on.

Also eaten - kazandibi, another milk pudding, also another Özsüt specialty - those guys really do make the best desserts! And while it was very, very good, it still doesn't beat sütlaç when it comes to milk puddings.

Profiteroles are famous at Inci on İstiklal - a better location for sinful indulgence doesn't exist. It's such fun popping in, gobbling down a profiterole and walking out and down İstiklal perfectly content and happy. The one pictured here was had at Özsüt again (dear lord, I sound like their publicist now) and was also excellent - with a thick dark chocolate and vanilla ice cream topping...yum!

After wandering around at the Salı Pazaar all morning, my friend and I were ravenous enough to order a kunefe each at a place she reccomended at Kadıköy. This was basically our lunch and while kunefe is amazingly, amazingly good - all that cheese wrappened in kadayıf, dunked in sweet syrup - how anyone can eat this after a meal is a mystery.

Also had to ward of the heat and the sun - dondurma! Ever since Italy I have been obsessed with pistachio flavoured ice cream and the one at Mado never disappoints. On this trip I also developed somewhat of an obsession with kara dut (mulberry) flavoured ones as well!

My friends birthday was celebrated with not only excellent food at Çiya, but also excellent cake from I have honestly no idea where. It was had with many many cups of çay and almost everyone took more then just one serving. An amusing piece of bonus trivia - cake in Turkish? Is called pasta.

And finally to end - because really, my stomach is growling now and this post is already too long - things had to drink! Well rakı is already covered and I did have my share of Efes and Uludağ limonata but more than anything, everyone in Turkey drinks çay. The apple flavoured ones cater specifically to tourists, though they are good with nargile and served up by the tray full at the nargile cafes of Tophane. There I also discovered strange white coloured banana flavoured çay - which tastes more like pudding than çay, honestly.

In all honesty, I like the sade çay the best and it's one of the things I miss the most - they just don't brew tea like they do in Turkey anywhere else. I drank ridiculous amounts of çay from those tulip shaped glasses - before meals, during meals, after meals, on the vapur, while playing blackgammon or just sitting in a çay bahçe - basically, all the time.

My last drink on my last night in İstanbul, however, was a cup of Türk kahvesi - orta şekerli - with medium sugar. Ideal for getting off a rakı induced high - grainy, slightly bitter sweet and very strong.

Right, now I am truly hungry.