Posts Tagged ‘Taksim’

It’s been four months since I left Istanbul to return home to Los Angeles. I can’t say that it was a happy departure. Returning to Los Angeles was difficult to say the least. It took me weeks to get used to not hearing the Call to Prayer ring out across the city five times a day and I missed the clinking of tea glasses, the smell of spices and the damp air coming in off the Bosphorus.

Istanbul was my home for 7 weeks, although when I first arrived there, I had no idea that the city would come to signify home for me. Now, four months later, I have journeyed back to Istanbul and discovered that I am still in awe of this city, I am still enthralled with its vibrance and its livelihood, and it still feels like home. My time here, once again, is limited and in a few short weeks I will be back in Los Angeles, but for now I intend to enjoy the dream that I hope to someday be my reality.

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Eyüp Cemetary. Eyüp is a district located outside of the original city walls and actually predates Istanbul proper. It is home to the Eyüp Sultan Mosque which is a pilgrimage sight in the Muslim faith.

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View from the top of Eyüp Cemetary.

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Walking through the Cemetery.

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View from the Eyüp Cemetery.

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Headstones.

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As we were walking out of the cemetery, we were greeted by hundreds of crows in the trees. It was sort of creepy.

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Rose.

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Eyüp Sultan Mosque.

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Storm Trooper.

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Somewhere in Çihangir.

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Çihangir.

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Galata.

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Galata Bridge. Fishermen on top. Fish restaurants on the bottom. Merely a coincidence.

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Google translate was not exactly helpful when attempting to translate the bottom word. “Bu” means “this”, but Budur???

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“Second Thoughts, Vision, Hearing, Speech” (don’t quote me on this)…

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View from Çihangir.

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Snowflake.

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Let there be light.

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Art.

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Sunset on the Golden Horn.

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Sidewalk.

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No clue.

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Child’s play.

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Street Art.

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Vintage.

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Modern Art.

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I’d happily live there.

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Sheep.

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Istikal Caddesi

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I have no idea…

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Going places.

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I bought 5 of these. Actually, I think I bought those ones…

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I only took a picture of this one. No purchase necessary.

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I still haven’t figured out which mosque this is, but I think it’s beautiful.

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One day I hope to be able to read this.

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A very small cemetery in Sultanahmet.

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Blue Mosque.

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Ottoman candy.

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Decor.

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Lanterns.

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Tiles in the Tokapı Saray

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I just love the way the script looks.

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I had a lot of fun playing with depth of field and geometrical shapes.

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More words I can’t read.

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Now this is a record player (phonograph really).

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Galata Kulesi

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Nescafe and Backgammon = Necessities

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View from the Galata Tower.

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Inside a Synagogue.

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Irresistible Cuteness

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View from Galata Tower.

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Weirdest graffiti I have ever seen…

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Legs for Days…

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Mosque goers.

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Fatıh Camii’nde

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I heart Nescafe.

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Last time I was in Istanbul I flew to Jerusalem to visit my bestie. He has been living there for the past year while studying to be a rabbi. This time he flew to Istanbul to visit me.

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I have no idea what this is, but it looks cool.

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Slightly Disturbing. The red square at the top says “Tahir Square” and at the child’s waist it says “your child.”

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Roses.

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I am pretty sure this says “this is not a butt.” Those Turkish lessons I’ve been taking are paying off.

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What is it with Turkey and disembodied legs?

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Prayers.

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It is customary for muslim men and women to wash their hands, feet and head before entering the mosque. But I think this water spout doubled as a drinking fountain.

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Cheese anyone?

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Such a beautiful city.

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Lollipops.

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This was my hood for this trip.

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Wood paneling.

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One of the pillars that is not like the other in the Cistern.

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Topkapı Saray

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This is not a Canon ad, but sort of is.

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Sardines?

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Awestruck.

‘Til Next Time Istanbul.

Peace and Love.

Goodbyes have never been my forte. I’m a crier plain and simple. Goodbyes for me are often punctuated with tears, sniffles and the occasional snot bubble. Saying goodbye to Istanbul and the people I have come to care for there was no exception. I never expected it to be so hard to leave. Perhaps because I never expected to love Istanbul as deeply as I do. Istanbul has changed me, taught me, and helped me to grow. Saying goodbye left my heart aching and my eyes puffy and red. I will be forever grateful for the experiences I had and the people I met and loved.

Returning to Los Angeles has been difficult. It really hit me for the first time as I was standing on the curb at LAX, waiting for my friend to pick me up, that I am not in Istanbul anymore. It hurts my heart. The pain of leaving the city that I have come to love so dearly to return to a city that I have never liked leaves me feeling a deep sadness. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at a clock and expected to here a Call ring out across the city or the Ramazan drums booming up and down the streets. I miss Istanbul something fierce.

I take comfort in the fact that I know in my heart that this is not the end for Istanbul and I. I will return and when I do, it will be to stay. And I remind myself that returning to Los Angeles gives me the opportunity prepare for that reunion. Goals have been set, actions are being taken and inquiries have been made, all in the name of going home to Istanbul. It will happen. My heart tells me so.

The Blue Mosque. One of the most heavily touristed mosques in Istanbul that is still used as a place of prayer.

Istikal. The major shopping promenade located in the neighborhood of Taksim. This was taken around 2am so it was unusually quiet. At anytime during the day there are thousands of people walking up and down this street.

This is a hot air balloon located in Kadaköy on the asian side of Istanbul. It takes you 200m into the air for a panoramic view of the city. Unfortunately it was too windy to operate during my time in Istanbul.

One of the things  I love about Istanbul is that the city is filled with music. This guy was performing on the street in Ankara.

One of things I don’t like about Istanbul is the disregard shown towards the disabled. Often disabled people are used as “props” on the streets (frequently by friends or family members) in order to beg for money.  This blind man was sitting alone, outside of a bar off of Istikal, drinking an muttering to himself. Nobody seemed to even notice that he was there.

I saw this little girl as I was sitting in a sidewalk cafe drinking tea. Unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough to catch a shot of her face. She was adorable. This was taken without me even looking through my camera. My camera was sitting on the table in front of me when I clicked the shutter.  I know it’s not sharp, but I still like it.

View of Sultanahmet taken from a ferry crossing the Bosphorus.

Another shot taken from my perch in the window of my hostel room.

The Bosphorus.

The Boy and I on our last day together. Tearful goodbyes followed.

Museum of Ethnography in Ankara. Playing with Depth of Field. Also might want to note that this pocketwatch was behind glass.

Ataturk’s Mausoleum in Ankara.

My classmate and friend Liv.

The cistern in Sultanahmet.

A playful little girl. She got a little freaked out when she noticed I was taking her picture.

More fun with depth of field at the Museum of Ethnography in Ankara.

View from Galata.

The AyaSofya. Once a mosque. Now a museum.

Museum of Ethnography in Ankara.

Heart Balloons.

AyaSofya

The Galata Tower

I shot this around 2am on a side street off of Istikal. Not sure what this little boy was roasting. He is one of thousands of children seen working the streets in Istanbul at all hours of the day or night.

I just liked the color of this boat.

The changing of the guards at Ataturk’s tomb. This is the only time you will see the guards move. Once they are in their stationed spot, they remain perfectly still. I was told that they even inject some sort of drug in order to stay so still…

Along the coast of Asia.

Take from it what you will…

A couple of Muslim women enjoying the breeze on the Bosphorus.

My heart belongs to Istanbul.

Peace and Love.

Yesterday I moved from my beloved neighborhood of Beşiktaş into a hostel in, my less than favorite area, Taksim. The hostel is adequate, but slightly terrible but at least I have my own room. Regardless, it’s home for the next 10 days.

I am in Istanbul alone now; all the girls from my school program have left to either travel elsewhere or go home.  The city has changed for me since their departure. I still love this place deeply and feel like it is home, but I find myself hesitant to explore much on my own. I guess I just need to adjust to being on my own here. I have done so much traveling on my own and it has always been positive. Sometimes it just takes me a minute to switch into solo mode.

One thing that I am doing while I am still here is trying to write an article on Children of Hope, the organization that I have been working with since I got here. Bürde, my friend and  interpreter, and I paid the organization a visit yesterday for yet another interview with Ferat Şahin, the organization’s director.

Much to my surprise, the afternoon found me sitting across from Ferat and taking one of the worst beatings at Tavla (Backgammon) I have ever received. He crushed me 5 games in a row (and I am not that terrible a player), but it was all in good fun. He is possibly the best Tavla player I have ever encountered and as a result, I find myself in debt to the organization’s kids for a hefty helping of Baklava. Ferat said I don’t have to pay my “debt” but I will and I want to.

So we sat down for another long talk. I had a million questions to ask him and he had a million answers for me. All in all the interview went well and I no longer felt like Ferat was sick of my thousands of questions; I think the Tavla games helped. My goal for this interview was different than the previous ones. Since I have extra time here, I am trying to write an article on the organization in order to submit it to the Hurriyet Daily News here in Istanbul in the hopes of getting it published and of raising some awareness and possibly even some help for them. At the same time I am attempting to put together a package on the organization in order to submit it to some other, international organizations with the hope of drumming up some resources for CHA.

It’s not everyday that I have the opportunity to work with an organization like this or that I get to try to help an organization like this. As a journalist I am sure that I will encounter several more organizations during my career, and I probably won’t be able to help them all, but I have the time and the resources to do it here and so I have decided to give it a go. CHA has earned a special place in my heart.

Peace and Love.

This is it! I am finally done. My profile is written, my photos are done and, the biggest thing, my multimedia project is done!

This past week has been a whirlwind. Interviews, filming, shooting, more interviews, more filming, more shooting, followed by a lot of crying and multiple moments where I had to fight to not throw my computer against a wall. I was thoroughly convinced as I had to start my piece over for the third time, and find a whole new topic, that there was no way that it would be possible for me to actually produce a finished piece. I am still in disbelief that it is done… and that I am actually really pleased with how it turned out.

Here it is!!!!!!

This past month has been a lot of things: amazing, hectic, spiritual, insane, beautiful, frustrating, fun, intimidating, sleepless, romantic…. the list goes on and on. I can’t even begin to describe how much this experience has meant to me or how much I feel like I have changed because of it. I have learned so much about myself, my trade, my passions, and my beliefs. Honestly, as cheesy as it sounds, this has been a life changing experience. All the stress, the fear, the doubt, the questioning, all of it are by far outweighed by the things that I have gained while being here.

I was talking to someone about this today. I have received so much more from this experience than I ever expected or thought possible. Not only did I learn to improve my writing and photography, not only did I learn to shoot and edit video, and not only did I learn a little Turkish, but I also gained new perspectives, ideas, and beliefs. Previously held conceptions and ideas have been smashed. My eyes and my heart  have been opened  in a way that I never thought possible. I feel happiness, love and contentment in the depths of my soul.

Priceless gifts that have been given to me. Grateful doesn’t even come close to describing the way that I feel.

Peace and Love.

The countdown has begun! We officially have 4 days left to finish our projects and hand them in and I am definitely feeling the pressure. I have 4 days to edit, translate, and splice my multimedia feature piece together and I don’t feel like I have made much headway. I am totally intimidated by Final Cut and I feel like I don’t know where to begin. I guess I just have to start somewhere.

Today, I went to see Janset, the pantomime, in order to pick up some music tracks from her for my feature piece. After that I spent several hours watching my computer convert all of my usable video clips into files that Final Cut can read. All in all, a semi-productive day. It’s a start at least. I have made peace with the fact that sleep is not an option (or at least much of it) if I am going to get this piece done by Tuesday.

I have been thinking a lot about my time here and the fact that it is coming to a close. I feel like I have learned so much from this experience. I have faced many fears, experienced a lot of firsts and immersed myself in a culture totally different from my own. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and I am sad to see it coming to an end. Although I miss my son, my family and my friends, I know I will be leaving a piece of my heart here in Istanbul. I hope to one day return, maybe even to live, and I absolutely want my son to experience the magic that is this place.

Until tomorrow…

Peace and Love.

The name of the game is: how many people can you possibly cram into one area?!?!  That was pretty much the thought that came to mind every time another person attempted to sit at our table or a table near ours. It was Saturday night in Taksim and all the bars were packed to the point of overflowing into the streets and the street didn’t offer much more room to the voluminous patronage. Music was blaring so loud you couldn’t possibly hear the person next to you and there was an elbow or and ear or a shoulder in every direction. This, my friends, was nightlife on the Istikal. Everywhere you looked were bars, people, live music, and billowing clouds of smoke.

The bar that I found myself sitting in last night was called Mr. Bliss, however, my idea of bliss and their idea of bliss differ immensely. Seeing that I am not a drinker, I sat there asking myself how I had ended up sitting there shoulder to shoulder with four guys that pretty much spoke no English (and who were far younger than I) and four of my classmates. The answer? I guess I wanted to prove to myself that I’m not a complete old lady yet… Not sure if I actually succeeded in doing so, but I tried. Honestly, there were moments with some of my classmates that were absolutely priceless but the rest, I probably could have done without.

I did, however, get to see an interesting side of the Turkish youth that I do not think I would have ever seen had I not attempted to brave the nightlife. Previous to last night, I have really only seen the quiet side of the young people here in Istanbul. There is an interesting juxtaposition in Istanbul of centuries of tradition and the ever changing values of the newer generations. The old traditions, which some of the youth might find oppressive, are all about respect and the “proper” way for one to behave. It is not uncommon to see an elder shush a boisterous youth on a tram or a bus, or some other public place. Young people are expected to give up their seats on buses, trams, an benches, to elderly, women with children, pregnant women, and disabled people, although it is sometimes done begrudgingly.

I asked the student that has been interpreting for me during my interviews about how she felt about the “guidelines for acceptable social behavior of young people” that exist here in Istanbul. She said that a lot of the time, young people don’t want give up their seats on trams or endure the shushing of their elders and yet they endure it because that is what is expected of them. Knowing this, my experience last night, which apparently was a typical night for these guys (perhaps minus the company of American women) I almost felt like I was watching the youth let loose in a way that they could not in their everyday lives. The crowd was a sea of dancing and signing men and women, with people dancing on chairs and benches throughout the bars that lined the tiny side street.

Since I’ve been here I have been acutely aware of the social differences between here and home. Los Angeles, in my opinion, is primarily a “me” community where people go about their daily lives without much concern for or interest in the existence of others. Where as here, it is not unusual to make friends on a tram or a bus and end up having lunch or drinks with that person. In a city that is as densely populated as Istanbul (population is approximately 13,300,000 people), it seems that people are essentially forced to consider those around them, making this what some might call a “we” community.

Last night was a perfect example of this “we” community in action. With so many people crammed into one small area pleasantries and cooperation were at their best. Beers were passed back and forth, cigarettes were shared, men lit smokes for the women, and chairs were passed over the crowd so that newcomers might sit and join in the festivities. Merriment was present in the faces of all who attended as the young people of Istanbul drank, danced, and laughed into the wee hours of the morning.

Peace and Love

Last week, across the globe, was Pride Week and in Istanbul there was no exception. On june 27, 2011, approximately 2000 revelers marched onto Taksim Square, and down the Istikal, carrying banners and signs, waving rainbow-colored flags, and chanting. The group was met in Taksim Square with tear gas (which we later discovered actually had to do with a Kurdish protest that was also attempting to march onto Taksim Square) as well as astonished on-lookers.  Although demonstrations in Istanbul have a tendency to turn violent, this rally remained mostly peaceful (more tear gas was released into the Pride crowd; the second time it was meant for us).

As the revelers made their way down the Istikal, they stopped in front of several businesses, booing and chanting. I later learned that these businesses had been sources of discrimination by refusing service to a member (or members) of the LGBT community.  The revelers stood outside of these discriminating businesses waving rainbow flags and brandishing signs with catchy slogans such as “Love is Not a Crime” and “Out of the Closet and Into the Streets”. This was the revelers way of saying that they would not stand for discrimination based on their choices of lifestyle.

Overall, the rally was peaceful; filled with music, dancing, laughter, and smiles.  Having witnessed several West Hollywood Gay Pride rallies, I was surprised by the differences between the two.  Make no mistake, despite it being a peaceful demonstration, there was definite potential for things to go terribly wrong. As I mentioned before, demonstrations in Istanbul have a tendency to turn violent at any moment, and this rally was no exception. The LGBT community is not at all supported nor aided by the city in the organization of these demonstrations or in safety assurance.  Streets were not cleared nor blocked off and if there had been any serious opposition to the revelers, it would not have been contained.  Revelers were made to negotiate their way through throngs of on lookers and in Taksim Square there was a very large police presence, heavily armed and wearing riot gear attire. Fortunately, the rally remained peaceful and, in the end, love prevailed.

Peace and Love