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Hi Internet, just a quick update from MBHQ!

You’ve no doubt by now noticed that the sites got a bit of a re-design and some things got changed around last week. We wanted to highlight two changes to make sure everyone knows what changed.

The first and biggest is COMMENTS! Registration is no longer required to post a comment on any post. Of course if you already have an account you can still login to ensure your comments are attributed to you, but those who don’t can now post a comment without any long term commitment. Also, on the right you can see some of the recent comments so you’ll always know what the active discussions are. This was the most requested thing we’ve heard from people since our last redesign and we’re excited to see where it leads.

The next change is also something that was heavily requested, and that is a change to the ADS on the sites. You’ll immediately notice fewer of them, but what might not be as obvious is those smaller square ones to the right are specific to this city only and are being sold for a flat rate for a period of time rather than a confusing CPM/traffic/network model. Depending on the city, these range from $7-$175 for a full week. If you purchase one, during that time your ad will be the only one in that spot and will show on every page. We set these up both to make it easier for smaller local businesses to get their ads on our site, and also to help us bring in ads that relate better to our local audiences. Also, keeping these sites online is expensive and every little bit helps.

There are a bunch of other things we changed (including this broadcast function so we can more easily update everyone) but we’ll leave those to you to investigate and take advantage of. Hope you like it, and we look forward to seeing you in the comments!!

Love,
The folks at MBHQ

Terror in Uskudar II

Here are the first visuals from the attack scene.

Introducing The Hub

hub.metblogs

If Metblogs is a city, hub.metblogs is the playground. We kept hearing from people that one of their favorite parts of Metblogs was meeting and interacting with readers and writers from other parts of the world, as well as getting requests for more ways that readers could be involved besides just posting comments. We thought about this for a while and decided that with a network like this, a giant community area where folks from all over the world could hang out, post photos and videos, talk with each other, form groups, play games, send messages, and do about a million other things was probably a pretty fun idea. The Hub is that.

If you have any tech ideas or suggestions join this group and speak up. See you on hub.metblogs!

Nightmen of Istanbul I

For years I have tried to pass myself off as a morning person. For whatever reason, people take great pride in being early-risers. Those of us who aren’t, are made to feel as if we are less than prudent…after-all, the early bird gets the prize, right? You never hear anyone fudging the facts about getting up too early…in fact it is quite the opposite. But for those whose clocks are not set to “senile”, we avoid the topic of being late risers.
When someone calls and wakes me up at 10am I have to fight the urge to act like I have been up for hours, lots of hours…in fact, maybe I have been up for so long that it is almost time for me to go back to bed. I don’t know who started the trend of “early is better than later”…but I have finally capitulated and freely admit that I am a night person. I like staying up late, I like to walk through the City when all is dark and quiet, there is something magical to me about being able to walk down the wide boulevards and avenues without the masses of traffic that sit in gridlock during the daylight hours.
Nightmen of Istanbul
When I was a kid in San Diego I used to lay awake waiting to hear the sound of the street-sweeping truck as it wound its way through the balmy streets of Southern California. The driver would stop about 3am next to our house and use a fire hydrant to refill his tanker. I would peer out my parents bedroom window and watch him in his big rubber boots and short sleeves and dream about having that job when I grew up.
Those sentiments are still strong, in fact I have a hidden motive that this column will result in an invitation to hang with Kadıköy’s Belediyesi as they troll the streets in the middle of the night, (any takers)?
When streets that see millions upon millions pass by during the day are vacant and still ,  traffic lights are flashing yellow and red, and the only places that are open are a few scattered Tekel shops, gas stations and bakeries…there is an enchantment to this city that is hard to describe. This may sound overly nostalgic, but to be out and about when the City of the World’s Desire sleeps is a chance to  catch a glimpse of what it might have been like to walk the streets of Byzantium…without the apartments, traffic lights and asphalt–Yes, I realize that’s a stretch, but it appeals to my sense of history nonetheless.
Last night while trying to fall asleep at 3am I heard the Belediyesi’s water truck slowly creeping down Minibus Yolu in Kadıköy. A lone city employee sat on the back of the tanker and watered down the parkway with a fire-hose while the driver idled at a snail’s pace down the middle of the road.
An hour later a crew of walking street sweepers finished cleaning up the detritus from our Thursday pazar and loaded into a truck to go home. The shift changed at the gas station and the lights of the early-risers started flickering on in the kitchens of apartments across the street. Once the call to prayer rang out I shut the panjurs and headed to bed…an early-riser might ring me before noon and I certainly wouldn’t want to put a dent in their day by being wide awake.

Mehmet Moves In

Zonaro's Gate of Constantinople.

I guess 555 years has a way of diluting the history of conquest and defeat. Today, May 29th, marks the anniversary of the conquest of Constantinople, the defeat of the Byzantium Empire and the death of Constantine XI. Yesterday I took a walk along Theo’s famous wall and tried to imagine the difference 5 centuries can make.

In May of 1453 while the death throes were already shuddering through the fading Byzantine Empire and Constantinople’s fate had probably already been sealed…it wasn’t so much the heat of battle that caused the breaching of Theodosius’s famous land wall. It was the simple fact that a gate, possibly obscured by rubble, had been left unlocked. The Kerkoporta Gate on the northern portion of the land wall and not too far from the Golden Horn was soon discovered by the Ottomans to be unsecured. They flooded through the gate and into the streets, Constantinople was overrun and the Ottoman Empire began its amazing rise.

If you want a taste of the history you can take the train from Sirkeci to YediKule station and visit the YediKule Zindanlari Museum…yesterday we had it all to ourselves and from my post on top of the walls I can report to you that for today–all is well.

The Value of Men

Hanging with the Crew

There’s an old Moorish proverb that says “He who does not travel does not know the value of men”…I can relate to that sentiment. I love this city of Istanbul, its history, its food and beauty…but most of all I love its people. As you have heard me say over the past few years—we have never felt more welcome than living among Turks. While I still butcher the language and stretch the seemingly endless patience of our Çevre, we have fallen into a corner of Asia where I feel content to just sit and live…with some exceptions.
We have crisscrossed Turkey more than a dozen times the last few years and no matter what town, village or nomadic encampment we have visited and imposed upon, we find a thread of Turkish complexion that runs clear through from border to border…Turks are simply people of quality. They love to talk, laugh, eat and visit; they just like hanging out and getting into the details of each other’s lives.

The Master and her protege
Our doorbell rings all day long with neighbors and friends dropping in to chat and the food never seems to stop. Whenever one of the older women in our neighborhood cook special Turkish dishes they call Ann to come and learn…every week plates of food flow back and forth from their kitchens to ours and vice versa…tough life, I know.
While I am pretty well set with my balcony view of Minibus Yolu and the comings and goings of our friends, neighbors and food, I simply long to wander…which leads me, finally, to the point of today’s thoughts.
The expedition season is upon us and my gypsy juices started flowing this week as we began our plans for our summer wanderings across Asia Minor. In a few weeks we will head to Taurus Range to weave our way into the mountain villages and see if we can catch up with the locals. Next, Konya will be our base as we explore the ancient seat of the Great Seljuk Turkish Empire. The area is home to scores of ancient caravansaries, Mosques and Churches and some of the world’s oldest settlements.
All of which brings me back to the words of a forgotten Moor—whether in Istanbul or the rugged outback of Turkey, we have learned the value of the people of Turkey…they are simply Priceless.

For a great insight into nomadic hospitality check this from Today’s Zaman http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=142870

Short relocation

I have unfortunately been in Berlin for the past two months which makes me appreciate my home town so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure to some, Berlin is a great place to be. But there is no sun. There is no Bosphorus. There is no warmth. Istanbul is so addictive that I’m having  massive withdrawls. I can’t wait to go back. Hopefully I should be back home sooner than later.

Turkish Cabs

Cab fares in this country are becoming incredible. Yesterday, I was charged 60 YTL for a trip from work back home. I nearly hacked the driver’s head off.In a city where traffic is so hectic you could spend four hours to get from point A to point B, they should at least make cabs cheaper so that people would use them as an alternative to taking their cars out every day.
I hate you Mr Cab Driver.

Sleet and Snow

Weather forecast: sleet showers and snow today and tomorrow.
Fact: İstanbul’s weather is radically unpredictable.
Another fact: Different weather conditions can be seen in different parts of İstanbul. Even in adjoining neighborhoods weather conditions differ: sunny next to snowy-that’s not even a bit surprising for İstanbul.
Another fact: İstanbul covered with snow is beautiful…So beautiful that it cannot be described. Yet snowy İstanbul is troublesome (to put it mildly).

So enjoy the snow…and be careful…

Istanbul in famous Poems #1

“I am listening to Istanbul” by Orhan Veli

I am listening to Istanbul, intent, my eyes closed;
At first there blows a gentle breeze
And the leaves on the trees
Softly flutter or sway;
Out there, far away,
The bells of water carriers incessantly ring;
I am listening to Istanbul, intent, my eyes closed.

I am listening to Istanbul, intent, my eyes closed;
Then suddenly birds fly by,
Flocks of birds, high up, in a hue and cry
While nets are drawn in the fishing grounds
And a woman’s feet begin to dabble in the water.
I am listening to Istanbul, intent, my eyes closed.
(more…)

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