• Mind / Body,  Photography,  Places

    Seeing roses

    Everywhere I go lately I’m seeing roses — and I don’t mean this in the proverbial sense. In Yeniköy, Tarabya and all sorts of other places there seems to be an explosion of these flowers. Red ones firing off over fences.  Pink ones blasting through slatted rails. Yellow ones bursting through every imaginable crevice. It’s an assault of color like none I’ve ever seen before. Last year I didn’t notice nearly so many. What happened? Perhaps I simply wasn’t paying attention, or perhaps they were simply planning their attack.  I’m trying not to fight it. We can co-exist, right? Though to a lot of people they may seem like a cheesy symbol of romance and bad poetry, I have to say I’m beginning to respect them a little bit more, un-plucked and on the vine. Perhaps it’s all the reading I’ve done on alchemy and Rosicrucianism. Perhaps it’s what natural healer Jayda…

  • Places

    Reflecting on the ordinary

    The reflected natural light in Istanbul is something else. Nowhere else do I remember the casting of such a gleam. It’s particularly lovely in the evening and at dawn (though I’m rarely conscious enough to record it). My favorite thing about the light is how it limns everyday objects, giving the mundane — and sometimes even the ugly — a strange flashing moment of glory. Stone, metal, wood, concrete and glass all take on new dimension when reflecting the lengthy beams of the sun. Switched off lampposts, metal fences and fence posts, street signs, building facades, even puddles gleam like mystic revelations in the Istanbul light. Perhaps that’s just one of the gifts of this city. Its light can transmute the experience of something ordinary into the extraordinary. Thanks for illuminating me, Istanbul.

  • Mind / Body,  Places

    Weekday Escape: Atatürk Arboretum

    In Istanbul green space is at something of a premium. In fact, I read somewhere recently that it’s as low as six square meters per resident. So if you’re like me and have an unusual schedule to keep, or are a gentleman or lady of leisure you might just appreciate the Atatürk Arboretum in Bahçeköy. For a couple of TL you can stroll about at your leisure—whereas on weekends and holidays you need to be a member get your dose of naturally filtered air. While the occasional rampaging student or a gardener with a verge trimmer might shatter the trilling birdsong, there are plenty of paths to explore. This will be a great retreat on sweltering midsummer days, when the city atmosphere is thick with particulate. The first thing I noticed was the air, which I gulped down like water. It tasted of flowers.

  • Places

    No other place: Yeniköy

    Is it the architecture of yalilar, and konaklar? Your broad boulevard of plane trees? The secrets promised in your hidden lanes latticed with vines?  The glimpses  granted through spiky gates? The crumbling stone walls, the tucked away churches. Is it the wash of sea air through the fragrant leaves? Or the light that paints incredible texture on wood and stone, slanting low in the evenings? Could it be the meetings you’ve brought me? The welcome sound of familiar voices? The cups of coffee, the glasses of wine? Is it your slinking alley cats, eyes flashing between the grass? The street dog who beats her tail into the pavement every time I pass? Perhaps it’s all of these things, Yeniköy. But there’s one other thing that makes you indelible. You’re my daughter’s first home. Now there’s no other place. It’s strange, even though you’re with me, I’m missing you.

  • 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

    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…

  • Places

    The Hill House

    Do you ever find a house or a building inexplicably intriguing? I do, and there’s something about this particular one in Yeniköy that never fails to stimulate my curiosity. As usual it’s not a single feature, but a collection of attributes that ignite my wonder. I love the combination of stone and wood, the chipped paint. It’s obviously fallen a bit into disrepair, but it still has a certain dignified beauty, or romance to it if you ask me. There are many bigger, grander houses, but there’s something special about this one. There’s also its placement. Perched high above the Yeniköy boulevard, up above the traffic at the top of a winding step that leads to a church gate. It’s beside a much taller, grander konak. And though it’s surrounded by beauty, there’s a certain sense of loneliness, a sense of distance this house has. It makes me wonder if whoever dwelled within…

  • Mind / Body,  Photography

    The Mystic Emptiness

    Ever have those moments when the light strikes the surface you’re looking at in a certain way and suddenly there’s a change, an almost mystic feel in the air and you want suddenly to say, “Yeah, baby!” I do all the time. Then I realize I’m alone, or in a church, a mosque or some sacred site where such an expression would be highly inappropriate. The world really is an incredible place at times, particularly when you get to see the most mundane things all over again, but in a new way. Perhaps that’s why I’m so relieved to have my camera and this blog. Being a writer or a creative person is very solitary at times. You’re always trying to capture a moment, hold it, freeze it in glass. Now it’s not so lonely. I could say more, but somebody else has already said it far better: “The most…

  • Photography,  Places

    Istanbul’s otherworldly inhabitants.

    I sometimes wish it was possible to interview cats. What things they must have seen — and if they could talk, I’m sure they’d have a rich oral history. Unless they adapt their claws to dip in an inkwell … they’d probably be talented calligraphers. Okay, so I’m letting my imagination run away with me here. Regardless, whether you like or dislike cats, Istanbul neighborhoods would not be what they are without their feline inhabitants. The street dogs are something special too, but in my opinion they exist solely based on the good nature of the city’s gentle inhabitants. Cats are subtle creatures and I’m told that this city’s felines have flourished since Ottoman times thanks to the Prophet’s particular love of the animal. It’s said that he loved animals in general, but that once he cut off his own sleeve rather than disrupt a feline friend’s sleep. In more…

  • Books & Lit,  Photography,  Places

    Gothic beauty … in the eye of the beholder.

    YENIKÖY CHURCH. Perhaps it’s the constant threat of snow the last couple weeks, but I’ve started to notice the cracks in this city, through which both the icy wind and my imagination can howl. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of snow. Where I grew up the snow and dark could last for months. As a child it sometimes seemed my only refuge was the world of books and the fiery corners of my imagination. ABANDONED KONAK, YENIKÖY. More often than not the tales I disappeared into were of a dark, gothic nature. So, thanks to the snow, my imagination has started to shade the city a touch gothic lately. I mean this in the literary sense — and not the medieval architectural sense. I mean in the details, in the strange slanted light, the clacking shutters of empty casements, and the creaking of floorboards. Istanbul is full of…