Posts Tagged ‘istanbul’

Turkey Turns 85

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

Eighty five years ago today, the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed from the capital in Ankara. From the corner of my balcony on the Asian side of Istanbul I awoke to scores of red flags  hanging from apartment windows, poles, shops and even draped across the backs of people walking down the street…the air is simply swirling with national pride.

Tonight Bagdat Caddesi will be closed to vehicular traffic from 7pm and an energy packed celebration will take place up and down the Asian sides most trendy boulevard. If you want to see Turk nationalism at its best…this is the place to be.

Terror in Uskudar II

Here are the first visuals from the attack scene.

Terror In Uskudar

Three hand grenades were thrown at the building of the municipality of Uskudar, in Istanbul. 1 person has been injured from there knee following the attack and two people, 1 of them being a woman, escaped on a motorcycle and are being hunted down.

Is this going to be a weekly occurance? Are we not going to be safe any more? There is total ground for paranoia.

Ant Oracle

ants-insects-photo.jpg

We unfortunately all know by now that Istanbul is expecting a devastating earthquake which is apparently going to be its downfall. Ever since news of this prediction is out, scientifics and nerds all have been trying to figure out the exact when and where of this 7.0 earthquake that is going to bring Istanbul down to its knees. One of these people, Kadir Sutcu, who isn’t an expert on the matter, claims that he can predict when the EQ will hit by studying the habits and irregularities of the two ant colonies that he is keeping at home. He successfully predicted an earthquake a week ago and sent thousands of mails out to people to warn them before it hit. He claims that ants start acting distressed and that a lot of them start dieing 24 hours before the earthquakes hit. You can follow his work through his website; dkos and subscribe to his mailing list if you believe his theory that ants might be able to predict and save lives. At this point, I’m thinking that it can’t hurt.

Turkey Groans…Again

Sorry to bring you bad news today…but it is, what it is. Details are still sketchy so things can change on us here, but as of posting time here is an update on today’s attack.

Around 11am this morning the US Consulate in Istanbul was attacked by gunmen, 3 Police are dead and 3 attackers are dead. Turkish news outlets report that the terrorists  never got past the checkpoint guarding the driveway leading up to the Consulate.

Hurriyet and CNNTurk are  also reporting that 3 German tourists were abducted from their 13 member climbing party sometime in the last few hours from the slopes of Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey.

Both events have been labeled as “terrorists attacks” by the governors of their respective regions.

The Fat Lady Sings for Turkiye!

Turks Celebrate in Kadikoy

Turks Celebrate in Kadikoy

Over the last few weeks Turkey has ridden a roller coaster of emotions as they have fought their way into the quarter finals and then tonight the semi-finals of the Euro 2008. Beating Croatia back from victory in the last minute of overtime to tie it up, Turkey outscored Croatia 4 -2 to win their seat in the semi-finals against Germany.
In the last two matches Turkey had not scored until the last few minutes of each game, somewhere in Istanbul tonight the Fat Lady Sang for the people she loves!

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

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