Friday, March 29, 2013


Here's one reason why living in Istanbul is fucking great.

The storks migrate through here twice a year. They're always significant because they mean that spring is starting for real, and that fall is starting for real.

They're also significant for a lot of other stuff I don't remember, but all of it is good.

They're also just fucking cool.

I remember the first time I saw them. Everyone got all excited and looked up and kept saying, "Leylek." So I went home and looked it up (it was in the olden days, before I had a smartphone). It means stork.

I didn't see the leylek for a long time after that. But now I've seen them lots of times.

Today it wasn't super cold outside and the sky was threatening to turn blue and I was thinking there must be leylek soon. I couldn't be bothered to rush out of the house this morning, so I coughed up the 13 lira for a taxi. I haven't taken a taxi to work for a long time. It was worth it.

When you take a taxi up the hill to work, you take the high road. The minibus takes the low road. On pazar days, everyone takes the low road. There is no metaphorical significance to this. It's just that there are two roads.

I hardly ever take the high road because I'm hardly ever in a car. In fact, I've only taken it twice since I got lost in the snowstorm because I always look for the road I should have taken and I wonder why I didn't take it. I'm not sure if it was because I was being stupid, or because the road was snowed over.

I like to imagine it was the latter, but it probably wasn't.

When we went by the valley where the leylek sometimes rest when they're passing through, I took a good long look for them. The driver slowed down and looked extra hard at the valley, too. I figured he'd spotted some leylek there earlier in the morning. There's really no other reason he'd also have been scouring the valley. Or maybe there was, but I don't know what it might be.

No leylek. I was kind of bummed.

A little later, I was looking at the sky from the taxi and there was a flock of birds flying in an unfamiliar way. Leylek get a little crazy when they're flying around together. Also they're huge and have big wing fingers.

Almost nothing.
Hooray! I saw the leylek! And I kind felt like everything was going to turn out fine today.

And everything mostly did.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Uneasy Playmates

It's probably because of AKP's shiny new LCD thingie that I suddenly noticed this particular arrangement the other day.

DSP flags adorn the street nearby, and the Anavatan party headquarters are across the street. Whenever CHP or MHP or Anavatan hang their flags in the street, they remain there till they get tatty. Whenever AKP hangs flags, they disappear within hours, even when they hang them on side streets.

I hear there's some gerrymandering going on to include AKP-oriented districts into Sarıyer (Istanbul's biggest district, or one of them) so they can quash this not voting for AKP thing once and for all.

Later, we saw that MHP was hanging a huge Turkish flag out their window. The flag was big enough to cover AKP's window below.

I would really, seriously like to know what goes on in that building every day.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Another Fabulous Day Of Mine

Spoiler alert! I buy boots in the end.
In my continuing effort to make my life appear great and interesting through digital filter effects, I've just started taking pictures of fucking everything. A little bit of it is because every day I'm kind of stunned about how beautiful things are.

But then I post it all because I need attention for my artistic efforts. After all, it's not like I'm LE, where I can draw a stick person with arms coming out of its knees and send everyone into rapturous amazement. And like anyone, I want to believe I'm secretly great at something.

Anyway, these photos aren't really all from one day, and of course I'm only going to post my day when it's been a particularly good and interesting day. So I'll just mash it altogether, the stuff I see every day (mostly taken from the minibus window) plus the stuff I only see like once or twice a month.

This the new entrance to LE's school. You have to pass through someone's back porch and a backyard and then some chickens to get to the school. There used to be an entrance through a gate on the street, but one day the owner told us there was going to be construction on the gate and we'd have to go around back. The construction on the gate has never materialized. On the first day we had to go around the back, we couldn't find where to go in. We tried the alleys down both sides of the school, and through the car park, and around back of the car park, and I honestly just wasn't able to recognize that this was the doorway we were supposed to go into. Finally, I asked a cleaner at the Belediye place. He wasn't sure, so he went to bellow at the korsan taxi drivers, who all bellowed amongst themselves, and then one of them bellowed at the kid that works in the car park, who came out and led us around to the entrance.

I shouldn't call it bellowing. I totally understood them. It's just that I love how loud man conversations sometimes are here, especially when it's about giving directions.

Strangely Attractive Faintly Simian korsan taxi driver's relative, Far More Attractive And A Little Less Simian, had started working around then, and he was the most helpful. He now bellows a greeting at me whenever I pass, but only when the other drivers aren't around. I appreciate that. He has green eyes.

Oh, and don't get all bent out of shape about the simian thing. I totally mean that as a compliment. Faintly simian is hot.

Some nice wall algae in the garden.
The trees are finally blossoming.

The white trees are everywhere. And I love my neighbors' shed. They've been adding to it with new stuff for the whole two and a half years I've lived here. They're really, really old and look like trees and they work around the house and in the garden all the time.

He really wanted to wear the heart headband to school.
Some guys waiting to go to work in the morning.
Yay! The cemetery!

A lot of minibuses have a screwdriver shoved here. It seems really important.
I hope this is the bathroom window side of the house.
This guy bought the driver a newspaper.
This park just got built one day. It's where the window in my old office overlooked. They dug up some of this grazing land, and it was black, pungent soil that had obviously been loved and cared for, for years. Generations maybe. I never thought I'd be bummed to see a park get built, but I was.

This greeted us at the door to the office one morning. At first we thought they hated us, but it turned out there was a windstorm the night before.

I can't help it. The tower makes me feel all Mark Chapman-y.
No one cuts down DSP or CHP flags here. AKP's disappear within hours.
Yay! Nature's winning over the sign reminding us to protect nature!
The seaside houses are cool. One of them is the Aşk-ı Memnu house. There used to be a lot of Arab tourists around taking pictures of it. I've never seen the show, so I never remember which house it is. On our yearly boat trip, we're always told to meet the boat in front of the Aşk-ı Memnu house, because how could you not know which house it is?

Not all of them are restored.
And some aren't pretty at all.

The remains of the old Russian Consulate. This is actually just one of the side buildings. The old Russian Consulate was so so so so so so so so cool looking. They're restoring the main building now, but unfortunately they put up a big cover so you can't see it from the street anymore. I'm sure it'll be nice when they're done, but it was so fabulous and dilapidated and and abandoned and haunted-looking.

The un-rotting curtains in the window indicates someone lives in there. That's a story I'd like to know more about.

The Consulate's other side building
I couldn't find the side door, so I used this one.
Today I went for a massage. A real one, I mean. Not the kind in the hamam where you get kneaded but not really massaged. The woman I go to is great. When I come out there's this whole no pain thing I don't quite know what to do with. She somehow even makes the line between my eyebrows go away for awhile.

She's just moving her studio to a new building in Karaköy that's the coolest building ever. It's super old and formerly grand and it's filled up with useful stuff like artists' studios and a recording studio and a magazine. It's still grand, but in a different way.

The stairs are that shape because the marble is worn with use.
A creepy doorway
This delivery van got stuck trying to turn down this hill, which is at just enough of a weird angle, the van's back tire wasn't touching the ground. Not that there was any room to maneuver it in any case. Traffic was backed up behind it far enough that you couldn't see where the line ended. Eventually, they solved the problem by shoving some cardboard under the tire that wasn't touching, and those two guys hung off the back and bounced up and down.

You can slap new stuff on old stuff, but it's still old stuff
An everything sale! My favorite kind!
I would be a complete dick if I went walking around here and didn't take a picture of the tower. It looks rather stumpy here for some reason.

These guys were filming a TV show or something. The two actors were supposed to be arguing, and everywhere they went, no matter how fast, this whole crew followed right along in a clump.

As soon as I think I've gotten used to Istanbul's pervasive incongruity, I come across something like this.
And then I bought some boots.

The end.