Anatolian Express III: Istanbul Shotz

Sunday, May 18, 2014

This is the first time since 1997 that I've actually paid my own plane fare across the Atlantic. Everything else over the years that have passed has been covered courtesy of whatever university I was affiliated with at the time, or else by organizations like Fulbright, ARIT, IREX, NCEEER and other institutions whose funding has been slashed in recent years and no longer give out money the way that they used to.

I'd actually applied for some grants earlier this year, and have still yet to hear from a couple. But I couldn't wait any longer. I had about a month between sending off my manuscript and getting it back from my copyeditor. I really felt that I needed a holiday, but wasn't sure about where I should go. It seemed kind of silly, at first, coming to Turkey for a vacation. After all, I come here every year. Wouldn't it make more sense to go someplace like Vietnam or Costa Rica?

But in the end, I decided that this was the place I needed to be--but only on the condition that I not spend a lot of time in Istanbul. I wanted to go to new places, but at the same time I really felt a hunger to spend time in Turkey. Perhaps it's strange, but this is the place where I wanted to be. Despite having spent a crazy amount of time working and writing about things Ottoman and Turkish over the years, I just really missed Turkey and wanted to spend time here without doing research or feeling like I had to write something. Instead, I just wanted to travel.

So that's why I'm just spending a couple of days in Istanbul. I've hardly seen any of my friends, and the vast majority of the people I really care about here don't even know I'm here. I feel a little strange about that, and guilty, because there are a lot of people that I care about that I haven't been in touch with. I know I'm being rude by not getting in touch, and letting them find out by internet that I'm in town, so I hope they can understand that I came here because I felt a need to travel, moving from town to town. 

My time in Istanbul is relatively short. Tomorrow I begin the new and exciting part of this trip by going to Anatolia.

Here are some photos:
Ataturk statue in Taksim square

The coolest street in the world

Rainbow steps


Oh-oh, Beşiktaş!, Oh-oh, Beşiktaş!


Göknar Sokak: my old street


Göknar Sokak from the bottom up


The original Borderlands Lodge 

I learned the story only years later


The upper part of my old street is called Hostes Rona Altinay sokak. It was only years later that I learned that Rona Altinay had been a stewardess on a Turkish Airlines plane that crashed on March 3, 1974 outside of Paris. Apparently, she grew up on my street.
Monument to Rona Altinay (not my photo)
Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge


Nostaljik Tramvay
The Galata Bridge 




More links, commentary and other stuff can be found at the Borderlands Lounge.

Like the Borderlands? You'll love the book! You can order your copy now at the OUP website.


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