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Ok… Let’s see…. are we being forced to write on certain topics ? We have politics, places, foreignness etc…. We don’t have people, we don’t have a category like “what do I feel about Istanbul?”….

Everytime I leave for Berlin from Istanbul, I feel so great, I love the distance getting shorter every minute while flying, the clouds and the sky look friendlier and the flight is less disturbing (nope you smarties, I ain’t afraid of flying, it’s just that if you fly – or that is especially me! – so often, it kinda starts getting on your nerves).

The moment I go through the passport check (oh yes, there it starts) I feel so home… Everything comfortable, everything rather similar and tidy and warm (even in the cunning Berlin cold) and people do not look at me as if they were going to bite me and nobody gives a damn about my apperance (just try having a punky Iro haircut in Istanbul’s industrial environment and please save your advices about a man’s gotta have a haircut if he wants to get a good job!)

The most terrible thing about Istanbul is that you see so many people who look the same as in Europe but in their heads they still keep that traditional mentality. On the top that, they have their own exceptions for all their rules… They wouldn’t mind staring at the pretty girl cause she is damn pretty but would start a fight if you looked at their girl, they wouldn’t approve a tranny but wouldn’t mind paying money for a Bülent Ersoy CD. They wouldn’t mind spending hours in front of the TV watching some dumb Televole but wouldn’t approve a young person trying to make music or paint cause it’s just a waste of time….

Shortly before I left for Berlin (where I’ll be three weeks long!), I had the chance to have a little chat with a cab driver, then with a waiter in Sütiş in Taksim and some other people I happened to meet in a cafe. The cab driver was definitely convinced that the Europeans wanted us to surrender so they could inject their “poison” into our well organised and well behaving community. The waiter didn’t care about the butter he had to warm up again for İskender Kebap for a couple of japanese guys cause they wouldn’t know the difference anyway. Others in cafe were more like “It’s ok that we get the fashion and the technology but we should keep our traditions”.

Somewhere something is going really wrong…. and I mean really wrong… I hate the fact that I should have been just the same as all others while I was living in Istanbul. Getting the surface glitter and not caring about the way of thinking that lies underneath.

On some days I hate this city so much that I could cry out loud: “I want the real Istanbulis back !!!” (mind you, my family has been around for a little longer than 200 years now and guess how many relatives and friends are left in Istanbul: Right, none! ).

Istanbul comsumes your taste, your senses and ruins your healthy way of thinking…. Sadly enough, the city doesn’t profit from that….. some people do only….

Call me a radical….. but I deliberately wanna see a migration back to the roots !

16 Comments so far

  1. isil (unregistered) on April 1st, 2006 @ 8:44 pm


    ok.. I am a “new commer”. I lived in Berlin and live in Istanbul for 8 month now. I have to say that I do not miss Berlin and think that Istanbul is still a much better place than Berlin to live.
    You wrote that you feel in Berlin at home. I have to say that I feel the opposite when I have to fly to Berlin. Especially in Berlin people are so narrow minded. Apperantly it depends on to whom you speak :)

    I do not understand how the content of your text is associated with Istanbul, the city. You seem to be on the edge with the people here. But I think the city is great.
    Furthermore I think that you do not have to look like the others and this is not expected from you.
    It is fact that a lot of people are so fixated on Europe and try to look like them and that they not always think like Europeans. The people over here have an identity problem.
    So we have two different point of views about Istanbul.

  2. metecem (unregistered) on April 4th, 2006 @ 8:06 am

    Thats actually the point I was trying to make in Metboards..

    I dont think I definitely have to write something about Istanbul in this blog.. I actually find it OK when even once the name “Istanbul” is to be found in my text. So speaking of narrow mindedness, I’d appreciate a little more freedom in my writing..

    It doesn’t really give me much reading about the restaurants and green areas or the clubs or whatever. I am very interested in tales of the city (oh yes, long live Maupin!) so I gotta tell my story of the city.

    If you lived in Berlin and say people are narrow minded, then you probably had a very bad start here or you haven’t been to Munich or Frankfurt or Düsseldorf. Berlin is great if you play your cards well but surely it isn’t a city for the semi conservative kind of people.

  3. Idil (unregistered) on April 4th, 2006 @ 9:59 am

    There are special guidelines within city blogs. This isn’t a private blog where thoughts can be shared regarding jet planes and candy canes unless the candies are sold in Istanbul :) The whole point of having city blogs is to be able to share your experience of the city with the readers, make them see the city through your own eyes.
    “I don’t think I definitely have to write something about Istanbul in this blog.. I actually find it OK when even once the name “Istanbul” is to be found in my text.”
    I think that defies the purpose of writing in a blog about Istanbul then, doesn’t it?
    It’s okay to want freedom of speech but don’t forget we are all expected to follow certain guidelines in order to obtain that freedom.
    Keep up the good work :)


  4. metecem (unregistered) on April 4th, 2006 @ 10:53 am

    hold on..

    first u r telling’ me I fucked up then telling me to keep up the good work ?

    geez… can’t understand women no more !

  5. Idil (unregistered) on April 4th, 2006 @ 11:43 am

    You’ve got a weird way with words. No ones telling you you fucked up, no need to be so aggressive. We’re trying to make this place as enjoyable as it can be, if you’ve got any problems with the guidelines I’m sure it can be discussed between authors and team captain on the mailing list.

  6. Meral (unregistered) on April 4th, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

    “It doesn’t really give me much reading about the restaurants and green areas or the clubs or whatever. I am very interested in tales of the city (oh yes, long live Maupin!) so I gotta tell my story of the city.” But aren’t the restaurants, green areas, cafes, bookstores, even a single tree, all these have stories of their own, or in some way they have contributed to your stories, or they have been integral part of your stories-the stories which make this city İstanbul and the stories which makes you, you? (Before saying “No” please remember how you described one of your mornings opposite of Kızkulesi; how you felt you loved this city and how she loved you?)I believe that is so. And so they also tell you the tales of the city.
    As İdil put it: “make them [readers] see the city through your own eyes”. You’ve been quite good at making me see the City through your eyes by telling ‘your’ stories. Thanks…And please continue…

  7. Sume (unregistered) on April 4th, 2006 @ 7:09 pm

    It is hard to tell a story about your home, family, nationality or whatever concerns your identity-Imagine telling a story of the multiple layers of a city like Istanbul?! By this I mean that is better to keep the focal point view -between bad and good.
    By referring to the people of Istanbul and their mentality as the way you putted, you are denying the core of our postmodern life conception. To me it just like asking your self is Hagia Sophia -a mosque or a church, instead of enjoying the sight of a beautiful building and its towers piercing the sky while the drops of blue blood fall into the see…

  8. dean balsamo (unregistered) on April 5th, 2006 @ 4:35 pm

    Somehow I stumbled on to this site. And immediately I looked up Istanbul as my wife and I are planning on visiting this summer for the first time. I hope that some of the really beautiful things-about people, about places about sublime experiences in this city-will be posted by you who know it so well.

  9. MaryAnne (unregistered) on April 9th, 2006 @ 8:16 am

    I’m sitting here in Harbiye, with street noise and shouting coming in through my living room windows– ah! Sunday morning in Istanbul!— and am scratching my head and wondering why anyone would object stylistically to Metecem’s post. I thought it was far more interesting and far more illustrative of one existence in the city than any of the other posts which are often so detached, so objective. We live here! There is no need to be objective about our experiences. Each experience tells a story about one slice, one fragment of this bizarre, chaotic, exhausting, complicated, changing city. I think Metecem’s emotional venting was necessary and refreshing. If you stick to what you believe are guidelines (schmidelines), then you are going to produce a dull, dry, list of kebab shops, clubs, tourist sights, and buildings. My feelings about Istanbul are neither of the “Oh, Istanbul is just the greatest city ever! So exotic! So friendly”, nor has it reached the crisis point Metecem seems to have slid up to (though in my years here, I have occasionally come close). This is not an easy, pretty, simple city which can be illustrated without offending someone at some point. People here hold strong, complex perspectives that don’t always make sense to outsiders (or insiders for that matter). I’ve often found myself in confusing arguments with my friends about culture and identity. We need more of this here.

  10. Idil (unregistered) on April 10th, 2006 @ 7:24 am

    I understand your POV Maryanne but my comment on guidelines was necessary for Metecem. This blog is about Istanbul. Any kind of post can be made on it but it needs to relate to Istanbul one way or another, its the idea behind the blog :) If the post wasn’t related to Istanbul in some way or form, then there would be no purpose in posting it here. Other than that, he’s free to write about his emotions regarding Istanbul as much as he wants.

  11. metecem (unregistered) on April 10th, 2006 @ 7:51 am

    OK gals and boys…let’s get one thing straight… ;

    I do not work for the ministry of tourism !

    I do not have to promote Istanbul (which I actually in many cases also do!).

    I find it dangerous to give a false, if not faked, impression of this city.

    I spent almost all my life in this city and I definitely know what’s going on here, which means if I want to write something good about it just because I remember something good, then that piece of writing is going to be good. If I see something bad, then respectively bad.

    2) I might have a weird way with words which is absolutely a result of life and experience. Everybody knows that F*** words in movies in our country will be translated as “damn it!” which absolutely does not mean the same thing. Being a semi linguist myself, I deeply reject this sort of censor in writing.

    3) The point of this piece was also not to make a negative propaganda against Istanbul but actually a propaganda against the new population which has invaded Istanbul in the last ten years. Back then when my family moved away from Florya where we had lived for the last 12 years, the only reason was that there were no Istanbulis in the neighbourhood anymore.

    I, being a foreigner abroad, do not really give a damn about people moving from other places into the neighbourhood… It is their life…. But hey, can’t really support the destruction of my values and my way of living. I can’t support the twofaced moral issues which seem to apply very generally in Istanbul nowadays.

    It is my god damn right to cry out loud once in a while… which is not necessarily personal… Go down to the south to Kemer or Side… All old Istanbul folk is down there because they saw the invasion coming in advance…

    So it is important to make one fact clear to our guests in Istanbul…. ;

    Some (most) of those in the streets of Istanbul are not from Istanbul at all, so please try to get view of something authentic, as far as this is possible…


    ps. idil…. calm down, I know what I am doing and if I need professional advice, I’ll call my shrink right away, so no worries.. ;)

    ps2. idil… and don’t ignore the fact that there is a discussion going on which is good for the blog…

  12. Idil (unregistered) on April 10th, 2006 @ 9:52 am

    no need to be rude and offend me.
    I won’t be participating in this conversation anymore.

  13. metecem (unregistered) on April 10th, 2006 @ 8:06 pm

    now this makes me kinda angry because I see no offend in my way of writing..

    but on the other hand, I couldn’t…..


  14. erato (unregistered) on April 14th, 2006 @ 3:48 pm

    For a woman who is greek and has spent her whole life in a big city, Athens, (the biggest we have- only 5 million people crouded..)as i have,i found the piece on comparing Istanbul and Berlin very interesting, metecem. I have the same thoughts everytime i come back from a trip to “Europe”.. See, Athens and Istanbul are quite alike, this is why i find them to be so interesting cities, with much in common. The discussion “are we western or are we eastern” is very much going on here as well, although we are part of the EU since 1981!! There is no answer to this question, only a thin line we have to find between being responible citizens, with expectations from the state and our fellow citizens, and not loosing our flexible way of thinking! The challenge is actually a personal one for us to win, it cannot be shorted out by rules and penalties. It is only a matter of maturity and culture. Recently i visited Germany (Frankfurt) for the first time. My last trip was last summer, in Istanbul, again for the first time. I wouldn’t like to visit Germany again unless i have to (Berlin excluded- it’s a metropolis) but i will visit Istanbul as soon as i can again. And this is why i find huge interest in any “in-between” situation and your city of birth is definately an in-between thing. This is a blessing as long as one is aware of it and able to use the pros and cons and not be ruled by them.
    Keep on writing about things that catch your eye and thought in Istanbul, they’re very interesting. They make me feel as if i am there, walking down Istiklal Cad. instead of Ermou Str, in Athens..

  15. metecem (unregistered) on April 15th, 2006 @ 9:41 pm

    Erato. dearest neighbour :)

    that’s the point; eye and mindcatching stuff… otherwise we do not go further than discussing about mousakka:)

    I loved Athens.. there is also a funny story to that trip of mine…. I’ll tell you that sometime…

  16. e (unregistered) on April 18th, 2006 @ 8:59 pm

    by the way mousakas is not that great…

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