• People

    luminous days

    April. The days deluged in light. The people, the city, everything is suspended on it. They are floating. The air, the smell it carries have changed him back. Seeing the young gather at the ferry ports in Kadikoy and Besiktas on a Friday evening while he waits, he remembers the days when the world was so swollen with the promise of tomorrow and it was all destined to fall into his lap like ripe fruit. Not a shadow touched him. The air, the light, rang with so many victories. How could such a beautiful universe disappoint him? It simply wasn’t possible. Luminous days. Why do they now feel like hours?

  • People


    Seeing you on the ferry for the first time. The thrill of the sea up close and the wind washing through your hair. Your love of the experience amplifies mine tenfold. Your bliss makes me want to patch together a raft, an eternal platform of these fragments. Will you even have a vague sense of this, five, 10, or 3o years from now? Why is it that this moment which is one of the most meaningful of my life must only be a vague notion buried deep in yours? Will you remember any of this? This is the odyssey of fatherhood, my daughter. A voyage that should never end.

  • Food & Drink,  People

    beyoglu anonymous

    The most talented people in any profession don’t need to advertise. In fact, advertising or drawing undue attention often does more harm than good. If you not only know your trade, but have mastered it, your reputation will be more than enough. Last night I checked out a bar in Beyoglu that doesn’t even have a name. It doesn’t need one. Most people will probably end up calling it Alex’s Bar, as its proprietor, and his personality, are the driving force behind the experience. Not only is Alex a man who knows his drinks, he’s a man unafraid to refuse an order if he feels he can’t prepare it to his professional satisfaction. He’s not about to make a mojito out of season, especially if he doesn’t have the proper mint to create it. He will also mix single malt whisky as he puts it to, “Simultaneously defy ridiculous convention…

  • People

    girls not brides

    Last month I was lucky enough to photograph a group of truly exceptional people committed to ending an age-old practice that causes great harm to girls. This crisis is occurs all across the globe, even in such countries as the United States of America where freedom and self-determination are prized above all other rights. Child brides are not limited to any continent, country or ethnicity. It’s estimated that 14 million girls are married off before the age of 18 every year, expected to bear children, denied the right to education, proper healthcare, and many subject to horrible violence and abuse. Thankfully, there is a group of women and men passionately committed to ending this practice everywhere, taking very real measures to work with governments, religious bodies, police forces and other local organizations to end forced marriage. I encourage everyone to learn more about this very important issue at GIRLS NOT BRIDES. It’s…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People

    portrait of the kumbaracı artist: monika bulanda

    There’s nothing quite like a glimpse into the mind of a working artist, and today I was afforded one on the street that seems to draw all sorts of talent theses days — Kumbaracı. Though it’s a humbling experience to see someone with so much talent at work, it’s also incredibly satisfying as well as inspiring. And Ms Bulanda is certainly not short on talent. In addition to being an accomplished visual artist, she is also a professional drummer, vocalist and musician with over 15 years experience recording work. On top of that she speaks five languages — one of them being Mandarin. However, let’s talk about her visual work, which she turned to not out of a need to sell something, but as a source of creative expression. It was only a little while ago, in fact, that she started to give her visual work the full time attention it…

  • People


    Dear Sof, As I’ve said before, something interesting always happens when someone asks me to take a photo. Today as I was hurrying from one place to another near Galatasaray Lisesi, a man called out at me, but what was unusual was that he did so in English. He asked me why I wasn’t taking his photo. This is, real street life, he said, pointing to himself. I told him I’d be delighted. He saluted me with his can of Efes Xtra. What followed was one of the most real conversations I’ve had in a long time. Sedat grew up in Germany, but is Turkish. He speaks flawless German, or so he told me, and I had no reason to believe he exaggerated. His English was near perfect, though he wasn’t for a moment proud of it. He asked about where I was from and found out my mother was Scottish.…

  • People

    Dear Sof V

    Had big plans for 2013, but the weather has intervened to give us a slow start—school’s out and we’re snowed in, Sof. As you’re fond of saying, hands up in the air, “What are we gonna dooo, Baba?” For starters we’re sticking close to home. Meetings are cancelled, people have the flu (which we’ve escaped for now) and that’s about all there is to say. I’ve been staying in with you mostly, which is nice for me, but not so good for our followers. Your dedicated blog and blogger will be blogging again soon. Promise.

  • People

    The Epiphany

    Today was not a warm day for a stroll beside the Bosporus and no one with any sense was dressed in anything less than full headgear and warm winter clothes. Then again — for some there is a strong sense of faith in both community and tradition. Today is a special day for Turkey’s Orthodox Community, who marked the date of the Epiphany, or the revelation of God to the Gentiles through the form of the Christ. Into the Bosporus jumped four brave souls on the most blustery cold day of the season. We were expecting snow today, so you had to be brave to leap from the shelter of a boat to the warmth of a waiting terry cloth bathrobe. Nevertheless some young men from the Orthodox community did just that to mark this important date on the calendar. Once again, I’m grateful to have witnessed one of the…

  • People,  Places

    What a year

    At first it’s hard for me to believe. It’s been only 1 year! So much has happened since I first launched this site December 19, 2011. I’ve been introduced to so many incredible people, I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to have these experiences and share them. I’ve learned so much about so many different people thanks to starting this site. It’s helped me find a vehicle for my natural curiosity, and voice my constant state of wonder. I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life —  launching  this site isn’t one of them. It’s allowed me to record my small keyhole view of local history and share it with people all around the world. Being an immigrant, you never lose your roots, but it makes the dislocation a little easier when you  can simultaneously share your new home as you explore it with people you…

  • People

    Zeynep & Emre

    Sometimes I like to trace the trajectory of my life, wondering if (and when, if so) I would have met all the people who are now in my life, if you took out a few key lines. There are two people I should definitely mention on this blog as it’s dedicated to my daughter. The first year I spent in Turkey was a turbulent time, full of highs and many lows. However, despite all the personal setbacks two people (pictured above) made all the difference by welcoming me into their home, both literally and metaphorically. On Friday night it was Zeynep’s birthday. I first met your mother on Zeynep’s Birthday seven years ago. We didn’t start dating until about five months later, but that night changed everything. Whether life is random or determinined is something that’s hard to decide. Whether your life is better for knowing such people, is not.…