• Photography

    The Alchemy of Pink

    Pink, there are times when you come off a little garish, or seem the feebler cousin of Red, lacking that vibrant color’s conviction. For some you can be a little hard to define, your hue being somewhere between Red and Magenta. But when you place yourself in partnership with Green, you truly know how to shine, perhaps even how to heal. You also know how to highlight magnificently the hours of dawn and dusk in between the contrast of slanting beams of light and long layers of shadow. You’re the color of love and the signal fire that says the equinox is here. Pink, you definitely have your moments. The spectrum of the universe would not be the same without you. Keep shining.

  • Places

    Clashing Rocks: Not Quite Epic.

    Rumeli Feneri is built on one half of the legendary Sympleglades, Cynaean Rocks or Clashing Rocks that once came together to crush hapless ships at the Black Sea mouth of the Bosporus. Jason and the Argonauts defeated them by issuing a bird first in order to  spring the Sympleglades prematurely. The bird lost its tail feathers between the rocks and the Argo sailed boldly through before they could  clash together again fully. After this, the rocks ceased to move. After a cursory look over the last couple of days at both Rumeli Kavagi and Rumeli Feneri, I don’t think there’s any danger of the rocks or much else springing to life. This landscape feels more tragic than epic, more crumbling than clashing. It’s a shame. This is legendary terrain, but you wouldn’t think so from looking at it. This place could use a loving touch, but it doesn’t seem to have…

  • Places

    Japon Bahçesi

    One of these days I will be lucky enough to visit Japan during cherry blossom season. Until then, however, I’m lucky enough to have discovered this wonderful little gift from the city of Shimonoseki, Japan to Istanbul. Since 1972 the cities have been sister cities because of their similar landscapes and straits. This park was built about 10 years ago to commemorate the friendship in Baltalimani, not far from the Sakip Sabanci Hospital. The three weeks I spent in Japan a few years ago were nothing less than incredible. Since then, I have a radar for anything reminiscent of Japan. This is the perfect place to take a book or a loved one (or both) and a flask of green tea, and relax and spend a few hours. Don’t know what it’s like on weekends but it is very quiet weekdays. It’s especially nice if you’re a parent because the grass…

  • Books & Lit

    Where to escape?

    It’s been an exciting couple of weeks, what with shooting the Easter rites of Turkey’s Greek community and jumping on and off Ciner Shipping’s freighter, the Trabzon, so lately my batteries have needed some recharging. Fortunately my sister Maia provided me with two truly great reads. The first was Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table which recounts the experiences of an 11-year old boy on The Oronsay, a ship bound for England from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). As usual Mr. Ondaatje does a tremendous job of linking the past to the present, slowly unfurling the story of a how the three-week journey and the strange events aboard resounded throughout the lives of the passengers, jumping forward and backward through time. I savored this one. The second is The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt. I haven’t had the self-control to savor this one. I’ve been reading it in gulps. This book tells the…

  • Mind / Body

    Curiosity

    Dear Sof, There’s something in your eyes I hope you never lose. Curiosity. You’re brimming with it, and it’s a beautiful thing. For me the process of finding out is more interesting than the actually knowing, or being right. Even when you know a little something, you can build on it by asking the next question. Once you’ve figured out the how, go onto the why. Even if you never find out, you’ll be rewarded with all sorts of adventures which keep life interesting. Develop your curiosity. Develop your sense of wonder — wonder, which is not the same thing as gullibility, any more than open-mindedness is the same as empty-headedness. Wonder leads to all sorts of things — creativity, invention, discovery, surprises, friendships, travel, and perhaps best of all, love. Some people get to an age or station in life when they think they’ve lived everything they can ever…

  • Places

    Aboard The Trabzon

    Ashore, the Bosporus seems like a broad passage, deep and easily navigable. From the bridge of a 229-meter freighter, the scale and proportion of things changes — dramatically. You realize that there’s nothing straight about the world’s most romantic, if not most important, strait. The Bosporus is a twisty, mighty and highly dangerous waterway. And if not accorded the respect she deserves, could easily prove lethal to many. That’s why on Sunday morning I shook off the previous night’s Easter celebrations and hastened in a taxi to Rumeli Kavagi, camera in hand, in order to to board Ciner Shipping’s 6-month old freighter, the “Trabzon.” I wanted to capture at least something of life aboard one of these incredible vessels which slip up and down the Bosporus on a daily basis. It was an awe-inspiring experience, and one that’s deepened my respect for those who live their life at the mercy…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People

    Profile: Azize Tan, Istanbul Film Festival Director

    Whenever I get to see Azize Tan, I get inspired. It’s not simply that she has one of the most interesting jobs I can imagine, or that she can talk for hours about one of my favorite subjects, cinema — it’s her infectious enthusiasm for her work. This year is her sixth as director, and her 20th working with the Istanbul Film Festival which just closed its 31st year. Something of a marathon event, it ran from March 31-April 15, with Ms. Tan dealing with everything from sponsorships to going to hospital with fainting jury members, all while attending as many screenings as possible. Azize graciously took some time out last week to have a coffee with me and tell me about the life and trials of a festival director, which is not just the fun of watching films, but a struggle, for resources, venues and the recognition that film…

  • Mind / Body,  Places

    Easter in Turkey

    This weekend I was granted a fascinating glimpse into Greek Orthodox Easter at the Church of St. Nicolas in Yeniköy, Istanbul. Turkey’s Rum (Greek/Byzantine) community is the nation’s smallest minority, with a community of perhaps no more than 2000 people. Here the Rum Ortodoks church serves not only as an important spiritual adviser in life, but as a way of keeping community alive and strong. As an outsider it was a true pleasure, to feel so welcome. The Turkish-Greek community have been granting me and my family a special welcome to such events, and seem happy to receive all whether they’re Orthodox or Catholic, Muslim, Jewish or any other denomination. Since my daughter, Sofia’s birth, however, I’ve felt a real desire to share the experiences of other minorities as much as possible here in Turkey, since she too is a minority citizen. I must admit, though, I feel a special closeness with the Rum community,…

  • Places

    A Pasaj in Time

    Ever want to time travel? I do. Not for sinister reasons like making myself insanely wealthy by choosing the right lottery numbers or even more noble ones like preventing some of history’s great tragedies. I’d be too afraid accidentally re-write my very existence out of time and space. I would simply like to travel back as an observer, gaze at the people, get a taste of the air, sample a glass of the wine, listen to the sounds, feel the textures of another era. Short of building a time machine, however, there are places you can go where you can gaze backward through time. One of them is the Suriye Pasaji at the Tünel end of Beyoglu. This place is magic. It has a cavernous atrium. Open walkways. The office of a daily Greek newspaper. A fur shop, and even a vast basement vintage shop to outfit you for your passage…

  • Creative

    Inspiration

    Sometimes it comes shouting over a wall. Sometimes it’s whispered in my ear. Sometimes it’s the faintest smile. Inspiration. It’s a great gift. Right now a new season is just beginning, and it really seems at time like a whole new world is opening up. Color is slowing seeping back into the world in various shades, hues and intensities, from the subtle to the extreme. I hope this inspires you, and continues to do the same for me. So if you see something that moves you, or you have some memory or place you want covered, please let me know. The idea behind blogs — at least for me — is to create a dialogue. So if you feel like sharing, don’t hesitate. Drop me a line at anytime at: ask@myphilosofia.com I’m working away on several ideas right now but none are quite ready to share. More later …