8.29.2015

Istanbul's got my digits: S1, Episode 1

Istanbul’s got my digits… Season 1 of my new reality series:

So I begin my Istanbul journey.  I arrived, again, on August 24th. This time is different though.  I am an Istanbul’s got my digits…

So I begin my Istanbul journey.  I arrived, again, on August 24th. This time is different though.  I am an Istanbullu now. I am in awe that such a long-term goal has been achieved. Perseverance.

I first arrived to its shores in 2001, right after 9-11.  I came to visit L-fezz, who I went to University of Hawaii in Hilo with many moons ago.  I’ve often traveled back- especially since living in the region the past 6 years.  I even managed to live in Turkey during that time; Gaziantep to be specific.  That was a great achievement certainly, moving to Turkey, but it wasn’t Istanbul…

I’ve often wondered throughout the past 6 years about my collected belongings that have been housed in L-fezz’s various apartment basements.  My luggage has stories of their own to tell I’m sure.  Hanging out with rats and cats and other critters sharing their space.  They’ve weathered stormy winters, humid summers and idyllic spring and autumns certainly. 

In the courtyard of my new digs in Büyükdere this I contemplate.  It’s a splendid late summer morning and the garden kitties surround me. These kitties are a fortunate lot as they have a huge courtyard to laze about. There is no fear of foreign invaders I suppose- only other feral kitties wanting this to be their new address.

Popolo, as I call the sweet black kitty that purrs and follows me around begging for affection, has finally settled to the front of the chaise lounge I have made my headquarters (HQ) here.  One other cat I’ve names- boots/bootzie.  I’ve yet to figure out if male or female…Time will tell.  I foresee many coffee-infused mornings at my HQ.

I’ve been told the apartment building is an old schoolhouse for the Armenian Catholic church next door. Observing the brick/stonework of both exteriors it appears to be true.  The building feels like an old schoolhouse. Upon entering the top floor I always get the sense that I’m walking into a classroom as I unlock the door.  I see the other 9 classrooms on my floor as well… What I can’t figure out is why their ceilings were so large because they are all (small) 2-floor ‘loft’ apartments with the bedroom and bathroom being on the 2nd floor. More of this story to unravel as days pass for sure. I’ll have to improve my Turkish drastically so I can ask the security guards- all of whom are sweet and cheerful and eager to help regardless of linguistic persuasion. Google translate has been helpful as well as providing comic relief.

Istanbul , after all these years, has remained in my mind.  I never ventured too far off course, and always knew I would end up here one day.

    Oh wow!  The church bells just rang and all the dogs are singing an agitated chorus.  It is 9:30    am. I guess this will be my natural Sunday wake-up call…

For me, Istanbul was the lover I met that taught me so much about life, but had to walk out on.  Is wasn’t the right timing- for either of us… I kept coming back to Istanbul though, wanting more.  The feeling was reciprocal.  Istanbul kept luring me back with its secrets, its beauty, its debauchery. The feeling that I was straddling different worlds intrigued me. Istanbul was my drug of choice; I experimented with many drugs (Tunisia came close) but always stayed true to my preferred dose. Nope I never had a bad trip in Istanbul…

Living outside of the city center, so far, has been all I thought it would. Of course I’ve racked up a grand total of… seven days so far… I adore the Bosphorus and being right at its shores. I can walk maybe 500 meters and I’m at the water.  I love this.  I need this.  The Belgrade forest is my backyard. So far Büyükdere seems to be the perfect Bosphorus village, for me as my entire point to my Istanbullu experience.

Freedom.  I want to touch a bit on freedom. As I’m coming from a two-year stint living/working in the Middle East, I feel free with each step I take WALKING around the city.  I have missed ambulating certainly.  In the Middle East I was prisoner to my car, for many reasons; weather, no public transportation that was reliable, layout of the island(s) and proximity to places, etc. Mostly the place isn’t set up to walk, for most. I will say that the heat was oppressive. Never have I lived in a place where I hated the outdoors… Perhaps ‘hate’ is too harsh a word, but in retrospect I guess I safely hide behind this theory.

Yesterday is a great example of living out my freedom. Let me explain; I was on a quest to find Macrocenter in Yeniköy. Macrocenter is, I think, a gourmet-like grocery store that sells a lot of (expensive) organic produce/products. Google Maps told me it was 1.5 hours away from my current location.  There is a plethora of public transportation options here; water taxi, bus, dolmus, metro, taxi, etc. The route was to simply follow the Bosphorus, and it was a beautiful day.  So I set off and hoofed it until I met up with my destination.

It’s funny that the saying, “It’s not about the destination but rather the journey” proved to be true here.  While I did enjoy seeing organic yogurt and other such staples in my life, for a hefty price tag I might add, it was the journey there that delighted my senses.  The entire route is flanked by docks, marinas, parks and just open spaces with benches at nearly every hundred meters- sometimes even closer. 

Istanbullus take full advantage of the open spaces. I saw many a family just plopped down on the grass under a tree having a picnic.  Hoards of men and young boys dot the cornice with fishing poles ready for an entire day of adventure and food and family fun. Various places are swimming holes. Even with the swift currents there are pockets of calm. One thing I did notice was that it was mainly men swimming. I did see one old woman in a 1-piece partaking in the entertainment.  In one area of the corniche was a small community of sun worshipers that just set up shop right there on the pavement with beach chairs and laying out. This amused me to no end. I even noticed women sunbathing, albeit most didn’t have baiting suits on. Some surprised me though.

And THAT moon… Did you’ll get to see the Supermoon wherever you were at last night?  Trippy. Felt like a great omen for a great journey to a great city to settle into another new beginning!

NOTE: I have photos but don’t know if they will get posted with this post… I might surprise myself though and deal with the fuss :) 
 now. I am in awe that such a long-term goal has been achieved. Perseverance.

I first arrived to its shores in 2001, right after 9-11.  I came to visit L-fezz, who I went to University of Hawaii in Hilo with many moons ago.  I’ve often traveled back- especially since living in the region the past 6 years.  I even managed to live in Turkey during that time; Gaziantep to be specific.  That was a great achievement certainly, moving to Turkey, but it wasn’t Istanbul…

I’ve often wondered throughout the past 6 years about my collected belongings that have been housed in L-fezz’s various apartment basements.  My luggage has stories of their own to tell I’m sure.  Hanging out with rats and cats and other critters sharing their space.  They’ve weathered stormy winters, humid summers and idyllic spring and autumns certainly. 

In the courtyard of my new digs in Büyükdere this I contemplate.  It’s a splendid late summer morning and the garden kitties surround me. These kitties are a fortunate lot as they have a huge courtyard to laze about. There is no fear of foreign invaders I suppose- only other feral kitties wanting this to be their new address.

Popolo, as I call the sweet black kitty that purrs and follows me around begging for affection, has finally settled to the front of the chaise lounge I have made my headquarters (HQ) here.  One other cat I’ve names- Boots/Bootzie.  I’ve yet to figure out if male or female…Time will tell.  I foresee many coffee-infused mornings at my HQ.

I’ve been told the apartment building is an old schoolhouse for the Armenian Catholic church next door. Observing the brick/stonework of both exteriors it appears to be true.  The building feels like an old schoolhouse. Upon entering the top floor I always get the sense that I’m walking into a classroom as I unlock the door.  I see the other 9 classrooms on my floor as well… What I can’t figure out is why their ceilings were so large because they are all (small) 2-floor ‘loft’ apartments with the bedroom and bathroom being on the 2nd floor. More of this story to unravel as days pass for sure. I’ll have to improve my Turkish drastically so I can ask the security guards- all of whom are sweet and cheerful and eager to help regardless of linguistic persuasion. Google translate has been helpful as well as providing comic relief.

Istanbul , after all these years, has remained in my mind.  I never ventured too far off course, and always knew I would end up here one day.

    Oh wow!  The church bells just rang and all the dogs are singing an agitated         chorus.  It is 9:30 am.  I guess this will be my natural Sunday wake-up call…

For me, Istanbul was the lover I met that taught me so much about life, but had to walk out on.  Is wasn’t the right timing- for either of us… I kept coming back to Istanbul though, wanting more.  The feeling was reciprocal.  Istanbul kept luring me back with its secrets, its beauty, its debauchery. The feeling that I was straddling different worlds intrigued me. Istanbul was my drug of choice; I experimented with many drugs (Tunisia came close) but always stayed true to my preferred dose. Nope I never had a bad trip in Istanbul…

Living outside of the city center, so far, has been all I thought it would. Of course I’ve racked up a grand total of… seven days so far… I adore the Bosphorus and being right at its shores. I can walk maybe 500 meters and I’m at the water.  I love this.  I need this.  The Belgrade forest is my backyard. So far Büyükdere seems to be the perfect Bosphorus village, for me as my entire point to my Istanbullu experience.

Freedom.  I want to touch a bit on freedom. As I’m coming from a two-year stint living/working in the Middle East (Bahrain), I feel free with each step I take WALKING around the city.  I have missed ambulating certainly.  In the Middle East I was prisoner to my car, for many reasons; weather, no public transportation that was reliable, layout of the island(s) and proximity to places, etc. Mostly the place isn’t set up to walk, for most. I will say that the heat was oppressive. Never have I lived in a place where I hated the outdoors… Perhaps ‘hate’ is too harsh a word, but in retrospect I guess I safely hide behind this theory.

Yesterday is a great example of living out my freedom. Let me explain; I was on a quest to find Macrocenter in Yeniköy. Macro center is, I think, a gourmet-like grocery store that sells a lot of (expensive) organic produce/products. Google Maps told me it was 1.5 hours away from my current location.  There is a plethora of public transportation options here; water taxi, bus, dolmus, metro, taxi, etc. The route was to simply follow the Bosphorus, and it was a beautiful day.  So I set off and hoofed it until I met up with my destination.

It’s funny that the saying, “It’s not about the destination but rather the journey” proved to be true here.  While I did enjoy seeing organic yogurt and other such staples in my life, for a hefty price tag I might add, it was the journey there that delighted my senses.  The entire route is flanked by docks, marinas, parks and just open spaces with benches at nearly every hundred meters- sometimes even closer. 

Istanbullus take full advantage of the open spaces. I saw many a family just plopped down on the grass under a tree having a picnic.  Hoards of men and young boys dot the cornice with fishing poles ready for an entire day of adventure and food and family fun. Various places are swimming holes. Even with the swift currents there are pockets of calm. One thing I did notice was that it was mainly men swimming. I did see one old woman in a 1-piece partaking in the entertainment.  In one area of the cornice was a small community of sun worshipers that just set up shop right there on the pavement with beach chairs and laying out. This amused me to no end. I even noticed women sunbathing, albeit most didn’t have baiting suits on. Some surprised me though.

And THAT moon… Did you’ll get to see the Supermoon wherever you were at last night?  Trippy. Felt like a great omen for a great journey to a great city to settle into another new beginning!

NOTE: I have photos but don’t know if they will get posted with this post… I might surprise myself though and deal with the fuss :)



Well, church is over as the bells just rang again... Time to head inside and eat some breakfast :)