• Books & Lit,  Places

    Rummaging in the past: Aslıhan Pasajı

    Today was a truly miserable, wet day. On top of that, the weather was bad. Perhaps on days like this there are few better refuges than the world of books. Fortunately, I had a chance between meetings wandering through Beyoğlu to pop into this fantastic pasaj just off the Balık Pazarı. This place is crammed full of interesting books, documents, newspapers and media from another time — to such an extent that you could totally lose all sense of the here and now. A good thing, in my opinion, especially on a day like today.  Galatasaray, Beyoğlu/İstanbul‎  34435

  • Places

    Mussel man

    Everyday in some ways, extraordinary in others. That for me is what life is like in this city. This man is rinsing his catch of mussels with water from the Tarabya harbour. Some 25 metres away they’re driving huge underwater pylons/footings for the new floating pier system. It’s a little disturbing, thinking of what may be being unearthed, and what’s being poured into the water this man is using for his food source. Apparently this is one of the cleanest stretches of the Bosporus, and people (during warmer weather, at least) often swim around here. I’m certainly no marine biologist but the vast numbers of predators such as dolphins, often seem like an encouraging sign that this seaway is still a vital one. Let’s hope it stays that way for men like this as well as for the life within it. We need each other.

  • People

    The cure for dislocation

    Despite the chaos surrounding me it’s nice to be home and welcomed by some special people with open arms. There’s no going backwards in time, but for now that’s okay. Home is not really a place is it, Sof? That’s why I hope wherever I am, you’ll always be nearby. Then, even if I’m not home, at least I’ll know I’m close.

  • Mind / Body

    Mer Bleu

    Dear Sof, I had to go looking for your grandfather yesterday. I’ve missed him for quite a while now, and have only glimpsed him occasionally in the last few years, mostly in my sleep where he could be himself again. So I visited his favourite place, Mer Bleu, hoping to talk to him even if only briefly. He wasn’t there. There are so many things I’ve wanted to say to him, so many conversations we never had. I’d hoped they might be finished somewhere along this trail. But I couldn’t find him or even something of him that I could introduce you to. There was only a strange emptiness, an endless landscape once familiar to me, now as infinite as the terrain of dreams, merging with the sky above. He won’t be found here anymore despite its strange resemblance to the land of dreams. The next time we see Eric Robert Welbourne,…

  • People,  Places

    Sokak Style at Holy Coffee

    A good café needs a cool street presence. In fact, it’s not just about the coffee, it’s about the vibe, which is all about the people, the kind of character and the community you draw. Holy Coffee in Çukurcuma not only brews a decent cup, they attract a lively crowd, happy to spill into the street, whether it’s for a smoke, a chat or to soak up the nice warm autumn light. This place has a friendly, lively vibe and it regularly fills with some of my favorite people. I have to say, I’m feeling the love.

  • Places

    Sirkeci Train Station

    What is it about train stations? They’re certainly a reminder of the most civilized form of mass transportation ever conceived, a place where you can travel in relative comfort, style and not somehow feel dehumanized at the same point. That’s not to say there aren’t routes or stations (especially in India) that can’t be cramped or uncomfortable, but how romantic is our notion of trains? This station was the last terminal in the legendary Orient Express. Embarking or disembarking here would be something special. Just imagine the people who trafficked through this place. I recently chose it as a location for a magazine photo shoot, where I was fortunate enough to be the subject (I’ll let you know the details when the November  issue magazine hits the stands).  Train stations in Istanbul like this one seem to communicate the transitional nature of this country from a dwindling empire to republic…

  • People,  Places

    Istanbullu II

    There are so many great faces, and so many great stories to go with them in this city. What do each of these expressive faces tell you? How much can you read? It’s all there in black and white, shadow and light.

  • People,  Places

    Tarlabaşı

    Between thriving Beyoglu and the Golden Horn, Tarlabaşı could be the most cheerfully doomed neighborhood in the world. I’ve been meaning to pay this area a visit for some time, but have been deterred by the fact that some other people whose work I really respect have already delved into this dilapidated old Greek hood which is largely populated by Kurdish migrants from Eastern Turkey as well as Roma. Regardless, I felt I needed to see this area before the last vestiges of its current community are driven out in the ongoing gentrification or “urban revitalization” or “historic protection” — whatever you’d like to call it — process is complete. What I found truly surprised me. It’s  the friendliest neighborhood I’ve encountered in Istanbul, and perhaps the poorest. There are plenty of men on street corners who don’t want their photographs taken for reasons you can probably imagine, yet there was…

  • Food & Drink

    Jujubes

    Where I grew up jujubes were a confectionery made of corn starch and syrup, a cheap and rather poor substitute for a more refined sweet like Turkish delight. Lately, however, I’ve become acquainted with the real deal, an Asian fruit which is appearing all over the city in manavcı (green grocer) carts everywhere. I love harvest season.  As usual, these tiny apple-like creatures which are native to Asia, called hünnap in Turkish, and sometimes referred to as red dates, are credited with a host of health benefits, including stress-reduction in Chinese and Korean medicine. They’re also anti just about anything bad—anti-inflammatory, anti fungal, anti bacterial, anti spastic, antioxidant, anti ulcer. They may also help improve memory functions. At 3TL for a half kilo, that’s a mighty fine deal if you ask me, regardless of whether or not they live up to all those claims. They’re also pretty flippin’ tasty with a…

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    Bosporus deluxe

    A few weeks back I spent some time in front of the camera instead of behind it touring around the Sea of Marmara and up and down the Bosporus. It was quite an experience and a nice way to earn some money, especially when being on the water was a lot more comfortable than being immersed in the dense heat of the city streets. The Bosporus really is this city’s spiritual life source. It never gets tiring being on the sea, whatever type of vessel you’re on. However, I have to say, this particular one was the finest I’ve had the pleasure of being aboard, incredibly comfortable, and tastefully appointed. It had all the old school charm in its design that I’d want if I was fortunate enough to be able to afford such a craft. Despite being perfectly happy aboard a vapur on the Bosporus you can imagine how…