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