• Photography,  Places

    The Wood Next Door.

    TRESPASSING IN AN OVERLOOKED PLACE. Beside my house there’s a vast wooded lot which both fascinates and haunts me. It has a voice. Looking outside our side windows, I see tall, ivy entwined trees and long weeds obscuring a darkening western sky. This overgrown, unkempt expanse feels both beautiful and malevolent. One of the pines—old, gnarled and unforgiving as Chronos himself—looms over the gully separating our balcony, and regularly dumps branches without warning or even a whisper of wind. He’s like a neighbor who never smiles or meets your eye but wears a constant sneer. Three weeks after we’d moved into our apartment one of our cats answered the nocturnal calls of this strange wood.  As soon as we took up residence, the cat itself started howling out in a new voice, as if answering some inaudible cry that stirred from without. Despite the baying of dogs, and the fact…

  • Photography,  Places

    Steam Punk Dreaming: Haydarpasa & Santral

    PRESSURE GAUGES IN THE DORMANT SANTRAL POWER STATION. In Istanbul the question, “when am I?” sounds in my head frequently. Its passages and corridors, its city streets and vistas that could belong to any number of eras. But then someone yanks out a cellphone and my dreamlike sense of dislocation is shattered. Once again it’s an old city pocked with wear. There are two places where I get a particular kind of steam punk feeling though, the kind of mood that China Mieville’s gritty nightmare fantasy Perdido Street Station elicited in me. Both are vast and filled with quiet, but evoke volumes of wonder. Both belong to the dwindling days of the Ottoman Empire, where history and tradition began to be steamrolled into the modern era. HISTORIES COLLIDE AT HAYDARPASA STATION. The first is Haydarpasa Train Station. Imagine the awe it must have inspired  … you’ve lived in central Anatolia all…

  • Food & Drink,  Photography

    Vapur II: blue sea, black tea.

    WILL SHE BE ABOARD? SHE HAS TO BE. On every voyage, no matter how small, you need a traveling companion to keep you warm. I fell in love with mine on my first vapur crossing in Istanbul. Her name is Camellia, Camellia Sinensis. You may also know her as tea. Don’t get me wrong, a piping hot cup of coffee is a beautiful experience, but when I board a vapur, she pales by comparison. I’ll drop my cup of coffee in a second. CROSSING THE THRESHOLD … WILL SHE BE THE SAME? I read recently that tea only became the drink of choice in the twilight hours of the Ottoman Empire, and that, not surprisingly, Turkish Coffee was favored until the Yemeni province of the Empire got uppity, or simply out of reach because of World War I … but don’t quote me on this because I can’t recall the…