• Art / Design / Craft,  Places

    Lola

    Yesterday just as I was prepared to admit defeat, I was hauled back from the verge of failure by Lola. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever find suitable summertime entertainment for Sof that didn’t involve retreating from the heat to a shopping mall. Fortunately, Lola—which stands for Lots Of Lovely Art—provided me with a new way to entertain my small one. This open, airy environment created by Alara Hindle in a storefront location up above Emirgan Park in Reşitpaşa, is focused on providing children with an entertaining, involving approach to art.

  • Places

    Kadıköy: the book haven

    If the sight of books spilling off tables, down steps and into the street makes you happy, visit Kadıköy immediately. There are many things to like about this Anatolian side neighborhood of Istanbul, but I’m going to start with the vast number of booksellers. There are people selling books on the pavement, in doorways, in the Akmar Pasajı, and in proper good old fashioned stores. 

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Places

    Call to Şakirin

    Many things have been done in the name of God, some good, some bad. I’d definitely say the Şakirin Mosque falls into the former category. This place of worship is notable for its extremely contemporary design sensibility and, perhaps more important, the fact that its interior was designed by Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu — a woman.

  • Photography,  Places

    Balat textures

    Balat is one of my favorite places to get inspired. It may be run down but the light shines differently here. There are textures, colors, scents and a mood you won’t find anywhere else in Istanbul. Last time I visited my fingers were freezing on the shutter release. Yesterday was a different story. A whole new experience, in sun-drenched, tumble-down Balat.

  • Places

    The Antique Market – Kapalıçarsı

    After a few years of living in a place, you tend to avoid the touristy areas. My one exception is the antique market in the  Kapalıçarsı (Covered Bazaar). This place never fails to entertain me. My wife and I like to pay regular visits to the bazaar simply to soak up the feel. It’s truly a city within a city. There’s an incredible mixture of stuff, from the kitsch and cheap, to the truly antique and interesting — from pocket watches, naval instruments, old film cameras, illuminated pages, and semi precious stones.

  • Places

    Discovered in a han

    In my dreams I ascend buildings, while the stairs behind me crumble into a gaping abyss. Up and up I go while the way back down becomes impossible. There’s something of that feeling every time I discover a new, or rather, an old han. These old trade buildings provide endless inspiration for me, and I get lost in them in more ways than one. There are the sounds, the clink of hammer on metal, a distant voice penetrating a cracked door, a laugh. Silhouettes at the end of corridors, engulfed in blinding light. The feel, the mustiness of age and neglect. A wary look from a passerby. The whir of retrofit air conditioners. Then there are the other discoveries.

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People

    Turkey’s hardest working actor?

    Yigit Ozsener is a busy man. I’ve been wanting to talk to him about his trade for some time, but his schedule is tight. The day before we meet, he’s up at 5am to get to a Sapanca location shoot which doesn’t allow him home before midnight, in order to shoot an 8-page scene in the blazing heat, and looks significantly darker than two days before when we talked about doing an interview. He’s down to the final two episodes of his latest series, the acclaimed 25-episode  Son (Final), before a much-needed hiatus. “I’ve worked non-stop for three years. No vacations,” he says smiling, and without the faintest whiff of complaint on the ferry to Kadiköy. The actor loves what he does, but didn’t always know he wanted to be a thespian. Originally from Izmir, on Turkey’s mellow Aegean coast, he did his undergrad in communications and electrical engineering and progressed…

  • Books & Lit,  Places

    The Book Bazaar: Sahaflar Çarşısı

    On rainy days there’s nothing better than taking refuge in a book. Yesterday I escaped a flash downpour in the Old City  under the awnings at the Sahaflar Çarşısı, a book bazaar located right next to the Covered Bazaar’s Beayzıt door.  While the slate sky above lit up and roiled with thunder, I discovered that there’s everything here from university textbooks to religious scripture, out of date travel guides, pulpy pocketbooks, massive coffee table tomes—and even a book claiming it had the inside scoop on the steamy life of Ottoman harems. Most of the stores don’t have a great selection for English readers but there are a few with a decent stock, including Gözen Kitap ve Yayın Evi, which has some splendid art books. As usual if you have cash, you can talk down the price of discovering all those sordid Ottoman Harem secrets. Definitely worth a peruse — the book bazaar,…

  • Places

    Yeniköy’s Friendliest Resident

    One of my favorite Yeniköy friends isn’t human, but is one sweet being nevertheless. This morning I finally captured the beauty in those bright orange eyes, sometimes hidden beneath her dusty brows. I try to feed the street dogs when I can, but I’ve never been in the right place at the right time to give my favorite a treat. Still, she recognizes me everyday, and when not deep in the realm of doggie dreams, affectionately smashes her tail against the pavement in welcome. Despite objecting to certain marks of cars like Toyotas—she demonstrates surprisingly good taste for a street hound—or anyone pushing a cart, she really has the kindest disposition of any creature I’ve met. I feel like I should have a name for her. She has soul. Any thoughts?

  • Places

    The last outpost

    Sometimes I wonder where the city of Istanbul begins and ends. I don’t mean officially, on a map, which it splashes across like an upended bucket of paint. Psychologically speaking, there’s a place where its growth seems to have stopped: Rumeli Kavagi. There’s something about this place that intrigues me, something I can’t quite explain. It could be paradise. It’s far from it however.  There’s a desolate, decaying, end and edge of the world feel. It’s full of broken docks, listing boats, tumbledown buildings, gaping parking lots, and half closed fish restaurants streaked with gull droppings. Yet it’s in a magnificent position, full of unkept promise, staring across the Bosporus at its counterpoint, the much more alive feeling Anadolu Kavagi. Despite its decrepitude, despite its cracks, I have a strange hope for this place. I can imagine how it might be one day. There’s something waiting in this seaside village,…