Posts Tagged ‘stan steward’

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!

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

Snuffing Out a Bit of Culture

May 19th is a big deal in Turkey commemorating the start of the War for Independence. I find that ironic, because today is another “May 19th” that is going to be remembered for a long time…this one for restricting a freedom that many Turks have enjoyed without restraint.  That of lighting up a smoke whenever and wherever the mood hit.

Starting today public smoking is being frowned upon in this great nation of nicotine loving Turks.  Already banned in airports and large offices today the ban sweeps into its purview the small shops, parks, entertainment venues and extends even to the ferries and taxis that troll throughout the metropolis. An estimated 15 million packs of cigarettes (300 million smokes) are  inhaled each day in Turkey.

Being a non-smoker it took some time to get used to the second hand smoke I was inhaling when we first landed here a few years ago.  Now when returning to Istanbul from abroad there is nothing that makes me feel more  “at home”  than the smell of cigarettes as soon as we step out of the airport.

I know…its bad for me, bad for you,  bad for all of us. I get it. I am not advocating smoking. However, when I see things that have been culturally endeared to me pass away there is an element of grief I experience. I cannot count the times that a Fiat-wielding taxi driver has held out a pack of smokes to me as he weaved and dodged through Istanbul”s infamous traffic, before lighting up himself. The scent of tobacco has become synonymous with the Turkish hospitality that has courted and overwhelmed us during our time in Asia Minor.

No doubt we will all be much healthier and able to worry about whatever great health risk becomes popular in the future. For now though I am not too worried, once I see the ashtrays on the treadmills at the local sports salon go…I will know that the restrictions are here to stay.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.