Archive for October, 2006

Viktor Levi vs Pano

To be honest, I was going to write about Viktor Levi wine house in Kadıköy. And its title would be “Sunday Delight: A Sunday Afternoon In The Garden Of Viktor Levi” But İdil’s post on Ortaköy was titled as “Sunday Delight”, so I had to change my title, and when I was thinking of a new one I thought of Pano, and so my title was ready: it would be on Pano and Viktor Levi wine houses… And please don’t let the title to deceive you, because I’m not comparing these two wine houses here. I love them both: they offer delicious wine and food, and nice atmosphere.
Both wine houses were named after their founders: Viktor Levi and Panayot Papadopulus, they are both over 100 years old. Their wines are specially produced. Both are a part of İstanbul spirit…
They are both very crowded on Friday and Saturday nights! So either make a reservation before you go, or be prepared not to have a table, but just have drinks at the bar. Or go during daytime – if you’re attending a one of those beloved jazz or cinema festivals of İstanbul, give a break in Viktor Levi or Pano … or have a few glass of wine before you start your journey in the land of music or cinema…
Now Viktor Levi in Kadıköy: It has a huge garden with huge trees. An escape from over crowded, noisy, disordered streets of Kadıköy. A tranquil spot. The garden is full of cats, for a cat lover like myself this means another reason to go there. Last Sunday when I was enjoying the garden and wine there, I met a black kitten – she was so little and with her beady eyes she was so lovely:) Not only the garden, but the house is remarkable: a 135 years old Greek house was restored and now serve as Viktor Levi’s Kadıköy branch. Whenever I go there I feel as if wine is woven in this house and its garden…
It’s autumn, and it’s been raining for the last two days… But we will have an Indian summer (hopefully!), which will be the last chance to enjoy Kadıköy Viktor Levi’s garden…until next spring…

Student fests at Istanbul universities are banned!

According to the New Anatolian news, Istanbul Governor’s Office decided to ban all fests because “the student festivals held at the beginning and end of the academic year provide an environment ripe for ideological groups to win over sympathizers.” Hmmm this is a typical instance of Turkish state governance. I wish they could find other ways of beating the ideological groups other than banning all youth fests…

Sunday delight: Ortakoy

Being lazy is like a moto to me, myself and I.
On a sunday morning, if I don’t have to get to work, I make a point of dragging myself out of bed at a fashionably late time and then dragging myself out of the house (emphasize on dragging). One of my favourite activies on Sundays – like I might have written before – is browsing the local markets. It’s a great activity for the lazy. This sunday before I had to go to work, I grabbed my friend and we went off to the Ortakoy market which is just great, even when the weather is grey! The stalls are nicely arranged down the streets and you have a wide choice of jewellery, clothes and bags.

Fooding Sessions: SoSa Kanyon

Last night I headed to Kanyon with a friend to check if Harvey Nichols had finally opened up and to my great disappointment, it hadn’t. Obviously, I should be used to this because we’ve only been expecting it to open up for the last two years. Who would’ve thought it’d take so long?
After being greeted by closed doors and a non chalant looking security guard, we headed towards the very posh and luxurious food court hosted by Kanyon and decided after much thinking and bickering to settle for a salad at SoSa. I’ve already eaten at SoSa before but I had only tried the one in Akmerkez which was decent enough.
We were welcomed with warm smiles and seated immediatly.

Cell phones and public buses

I knew it, I knew it. I always hated that cell phone ban in those ‘green’ public buses. Supposedly, it is for the security of us: cell phones may interfere with the electronic devices of the bus and cause accidents. That is not true according to a Sabah report. Even if that was true, then one should ask why we would be using them. I cannot imagine all Istanbulites would obey the ban, in fact they did not- that is also a matter of civility of course. Then, as a public official, you shouldn’t have imported that kind of buses. That is itself a threat to public safety.
Cell phone ban also provided some people to satisfy themselves in a weird way: Mostly, older men shout at younger women – as I witnessed today once again- The guy did not say anything to an older woman, but when a girl began to use her cell phone, he shouted at her…. (I am sure, most of us have other interesting occasions to witness). I always turned off my cell phone and probably continue to do but not because I really believed in the ban itself. If only I was let to take karate courses in my childhood, I would be bolder, I guess….

Cevahir vs. Kanyon

I will go against the grain and support Cevahir Mall:) Not because I disagree with the critiques levelled at Cevahir, but I disagree with what is likeable about Kanyon Mall. Its open air concept is really innovative but there is just too much concrete coming upon you. Even in the open air, there is something claustrophobic. This might be changing but it seems that the targeted consumer mass at the outset was an upper social class that other malls ignored. But then I am not sure Kanyon can live with that alone… As a footnote, Cevahir does not know how to manage its movie theatre. In the beginning, its programme was not available in some newspapers, now they sometimes mess up with the programming itself. Last friday, I did a first in my life, and talked to the manager- I wasn’t angry; just tried to be a concerned citizen (!)- the manager accepted their fault and offered me and my friend a free ticket. I was so satisfied that I did not care for the free ticket and went back home:)

Baffled Erguvan

Erguvan is known as Judas Tree or as European Redbud in the English speaking world. But I always call it as “erguvan”.
Not only the tree, but also its flowers and the reddish-purple colour of those flowers are called as “erguvan” in Turkish. The story of this beautifully coloured flowers is as follows: Judas tree had white flowers at the beginning. But its flowers turned into reddish-purple because of the shame that the tree felt for Judas hanging himself on a Judas Tree after betraying Christ. And also the reddish-purple of judas trees was the colour of Byzantine royal family; only members of the Byzantine royalty could wear clothes which had the colour of flowers of Judas Trees, and the heirs of Byzantine Empire were all born in a room which was coloured as such, because it was believed that the Byzantine Empire was founded on the day when the Judas Trees bloomed. It is said that Theodora, Empress of the Byzantine Empire, declined the advise of fleeing from rioters of Nika riots by telling “The most beautiful shroud is erguvan coloured cape.”

Erguvan trees bloom between the second half of April and the first half of May, and then:
The blue of Bosphorus, the green of pine trees and the reddish-purple of erguvan blossoms blend and create a beauty that one would wish losing herself in…

Having said all these, look what I found when I got back from my summer holiday in September at the end of September (a summer holiday in September is not an oxymoron!):



A bloomed erguvan tree…an erguvan tree bloomed at the end of September… an erguvan tree bloomed when it has seeds pods: in short a baffled erguvan tree! (Sometimes a tree may blossom after several hot days, long before its blooming time and we call it as “şaşırmış” meaning more or less “baffled”… and the flowers of that baffled tree will eventually be wiped out by the cold weathers ahead:( ) True, the blossoms of that baffled erguvan is not as wild as, as crazy as the erguvan blossoms in spring, but hey, this is the second month of autumn, so don’t be unfair by expecting mesmerizing erguvan blossoms of spring!

But the thing that I could’t get about this erguvan tree is: I know İstanbul was desperately cold when I was on holiday. It was cold, rainy, no sun for at least 10 days. So how did this erguvan find a reason to be baffled?

Istanbul Modern: Goksin Sipahioglu


The first freelance journalist after Hikmet Feridun Es, Gökşin Sipahioğlu has modernized Turkish journalism and has become a world-known photojournalist who has a nose for “good news” and a lust for scoop. Known as the manager mostly devoted to journalism among all managers of photojournalism agencies, Gökşin had his name written in the pages of history as the founder, manager and president of Sipa Press Photography Agency.

I hear that this is an exceptional expo to go visit. I haven’t been yet but I can’t wait to go discover MR Sipahioglus work. Expo hosted at Istanbul Modern from the 7th of September till the 12th of November 2006.

plan ahead: FilmEkimi

“Image courtesy of IKSV – the official filmEkimi website”

Make sure you mark down the 13th to the 19th of October as dedicated to the movie fest taking place at the “Emek” movie theatre in Taksim. Most of the movies being shown are excellent silver screen selections. To name a few:
– “Days of glory” by Rachid Bouchareb – awarded Best Actor at the 2006 Cannes festival
– “The wind that shakes the barley” by Ken Loach – awarded Palm d’Or at the 2006 Cannes festival
– “Free Zone” by Amos Gitai – awarded Best Actress to Hanna Laslo at the 2005 Cannes festival
– “Grizzly Man” by Werner Herzog – awarded Best Documentary by the Film Critics Circle

and the list just keeps going on. A lot of the movies that are shown are movies that were awarded at festivals like Sundance and Cannes. You won’t regret it. I hear that if you go watch “Fast-food nation” by Richard Linklater you are guaranteed to never set foot in another fast food restaurant in your life.

Science fiction is a place

I don’t need a flat screen showing commercials two decimeters in front of my face while doing my businisse in the bathrrom. On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt. You get this when going to the movies in Kanyon. More useful: the screen showing exactly which seats are still free to choose. Less useful: the price.

I guess huge shopping centers are one of the least exciting parts of Istanbul, but since I tend to end up in them quite often (due to their plain practicality) I often ponder over them anyway. And you know, the cities I have previously lived in had smaller economies than Cevahir.

But to be honest: Cevahir is big and stupid. In addition some of the floors in Cevahir are among the only places in Istanbul I have ever seen empty. Huge stores without a single costumer, I really can’t remember seeing that elsewhere ever in this city. I really like Koç Taş and Burger King during a sudden rain is as liveable as anywhere, but otherwise it’s just huge and dull.

Kanyon is the extreme opposite. Much smaller in size and filled with places that at least to us from lutheran countries have the affect of making us feel that we are probably doing something immoral (TV-screens in the bathroom, just have to be immoral, right?). As late as last Friday I finally confessed to myself that I actually enjoy being in Kanyon. I didn’t like the movie, though.

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