İlkbahar is coming!

Or, as we might say in the US…Spring has sprung!  Which isn’t exactly true…things are beginning to spring, more in some places than others…

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It’s been a very mild winter.  The second and last snow was January 7.  I know that date because I had my residence visa appointment that night, and wanted to keep it, a worry that diminished my joy of the snow day.  January 7 seems so long ago.

Two of three little neighbors...they speak German, English and Turkish.

Two of three little neighbors…they speak German, English and Turkish.

In February we left home every hafta içi (weekday) morning for Turkish class.  There was rain, and some days were raw–high 30’s-low 40’s, but reports from this winter in California sound similar.  Before we got to Turkey I had the idea the winters were like New York, but the ground doesn’t freeze here, and it is only slightly colder than Northern California.

We had a new kapıcı, plus helper, for a few days...

Our temporary kapıcı (doorman), plus helper, for a few days…

I remember that Magnolia trees on the campus at San José State would begin blooming in late January. At home our Chinese Plum tree usually was in full bloom by February 22.  Our tenants confirmed its normal behavior this year.

Jim getting ready to enter our gate, taken from our window above.

Jim getting ready to enter our gate, taken from our window above.

Here in Istanbul I began noticing changes at the beginning of March.  Flower shops had flats and pots out on the sidewalks, and people were stopping and buying.

Then I saw this:

A couple of weeks ago it was still cold, but getting colorful

A couple of weeks ago it was still cold, but getting colorful

Then these…

So bright.

So bright.

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Like everywhere else I’ve lived, the first warm weekend of the year brings everyone out.  This past Sunday looked like this:

Jim and Lucy at the back of the promenade.

Jim and Lucy promenade.

Everybody is out sunning…

How many nappers do you see?  Five.

How many nappers do you see?   Five cats lazing in the warmth.  A first hand view of parking challenges in Moda, as well.  We are gladly sans-car.

Lucy is doing the same thing here she did in California…

This spot is why we chose Moda to live...our sea dog in her realm.

This spot is why we chose Moda as our residence…our sea dog in her realm.

Istanbullular (people who live in Istanbul) are outside in winter more than New Yorkers or San Franciscans.  One California/Istanbul friend said Türks sit outside in winter because they like to smoke…maybe, but I was struck when I visited at really how much life here is lived outside.  There are outdoor heaters everywhere in constant use in the winter, day and night. And, there is the charming tradition of the “house pashmina”, color keyed to the restaurant’s decor.

Istanbul at play…

It's hard to see, but the people standing are shooting air guns at the string of balloons.

It’s hard to see, but the people standing are shooting air guns at the string of balloons.

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Relaxing in the sun…

T shirts!

T shirts!  Don’t you just relax looking at them?

We fell into step with a guy and his girlfriend…they’d been shooting the balloons.  Though Western, we don’t look like tourists…I had a camera, but nothing else with me, and Lucy was with us. Turks frequently ask if we live here, and seem surprised that we do, which has led to many fun conversations.  Our new friend told us about Turk WebTV…I found a sitcom I’m now going to watch every week as a barometer to how much Turkish I can understand.  I got none of it this week…I wonder how long it will take until I can understand it?  The couple lives in Beyoğlu near Taksim Square, but say they come over to the Kadiköy seaside every weekend.  Maybe we’ll connect up for brunch one day.

Sundays, regardless of the weather, are also football days.  There are 3 Istanbul soccer teams: Beşiktaş, Galatasaray, and Fenerbahçe.   Fenerbahçe’s stadium was on our walking route, and fans had been fueling up — Efes beer, mostly — all afternoon for the game that evening.  Here they are in the park in front of the stadium…

Fenerbahçe.fans in their regalia.

Fenerbahçe .fans in their regalia. I think the smoke in the background is BBQ.

Ours is a quiet street and building  but if there is noise, it is on Sunday nights.  If people entertain within our building, it is then.  The waterfront park across the street attracts inebriated fans singing their fight songs.  I am happy that the season won’t go all summer, it ends in May.

Local color.

Local color.

There are a couple of drawbacks to it getting warmer here.  First, the belongings we shipped are still not here, and we originally expected them mid-January.  We were tracking the ship we were told it was on, but last week that boat made its last call in Turkey at the port of Nemrut north of Izmir in the Aegean Sea.  Then it headed to New York, and is now in the North Atlantic.  Our freight forwarder said, “no your boat isn’t headed to New York”, but our stuff will be delayed a couple more days. My annoyance with being “stuffified” at home has been replaced by a longing for my books and artist tools.   I also want the art pieces we packed, and our pots/pans and kitchen knives. It’s been like this for the last 6 weeks, I’m not even asking about it anymore.

Flowering trees, new this week.

Flowering trees, new this week.

Instead I’m shopping!  I packed winter things, and not one piece of warmer weather clothing, in my suitcase.  It got warmer all of a sudden, and our classroom at Tömer is hot, the air conditioning isn’t on yet. In the city, if we are out, we are walking all day, so shoes and purses get a workout.  For Turkish-made purses and shoes, Istanbul is a candy store.

The other drawback is that as the trees fill in, we will lose our view.

These will leaf out...soon.  There's been a lot of branch trimming in the park, we hope they'll do this tree too.

These will leaf out…soon. There’s been a lot of branch trimming in the park, we hope they’ll do this tree too. All those little intermediate branches could go…

Happy sunning…or dreaming of it, depending on where you are..It is supposed to get cold here again in a few days…but “they” keep revising that coldness forecast upwards.

Joyous İlkbahar!

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We All Claim Rumi

Türks and Persians lay definite claim to the 13th century Sufi Muslim poet. He died in Konya and wrote his poetry in Persian.  And, hard to imagine, but he was named the most popular poet in the US in 2007.

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I am waiting for my translation of Rumi writings and poems by Coleman Barks to arrive with our stuff being shipped.  In the East, Rumi is known as Hz. Mevlana (translated as “our master”).  I shared a Facebook post from my Egyptian friend Mustafa this week, one I hadn’t seen before, but I especially love:

The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.
~ Rumi

Making himself at home.

Making himself at home.

 

One of the reasons I moved to Istanbul was to “break” open my life.  Traveling to the Middle East North African (MENA) region over the last five years, then returning to reverse culture shock and the need to navigate the Islamophobic shoals in the US, has released in me the truth of this snippet of Rumi’s wisdom.  I’ve been reflecting on its insights.

Seb-i Arus, Kadidoy, December 15, 2012

Seb-i Arus, Kadikoy, December 15, 2012

Some of my friends in the region are quite spiritual.  Their practice of devotion resonates with my understanding of mystery.  I always love being present to their disciplines, be it sitting quietly in a mosque, or as we did this week, observing the Sema ceremony in the Yenikapı Mevlevihânesi (Mevlevi Lodge at Yenikapı, Istanbul). We yabancılar (foreigners) call the Semazen “whirling dervishes”.

Musicians at Yenikapı

Musicians at Yenikapı

Our friend Kamer had organized this experience, just as she’d secured tickets a month ago to the first Istanbul celebration of Şeb-i Arus — the anniversary of Rumi’s death – an annual commemoration held in Konya, Turkey.  I have seen the Sema now twice within a short time and have begun to recognize its seven ritual movements accompanied by musicians. Both times I had a camera in front of my face.  I want to go back to the Yenikapı Mevlevihânesi, which offers a weekly ceremony open to those who make reservations.  Next time, I will simply submit to the experience, and take no photos.

Yenikapı

Yenikapı

Şeb-i Arus, “The Wedding Day”, celebrates the joy Rumi felt in being united with his maker.  He said to his wife who pleaded he ask God for more time:

“Am I a thief?
Have I stolen someone’s goods?
Is this why you would confine me here and keep me from being rejoined with my Love?”

 

December 17, celebration of Rumi's death. Saturday night Dec. 15 at arena in Istanbul.

December 17 every year Rumi’s death is remembered.  This event was Saturday night Dec. 15 at  an arena in Istanbul.

The first Istanbul event was held in a HUGE new arena in Kadiköy.  The long program began at 8pm and featured poetry reading in Turkish and Persian.  Within the show was a part where the audience sang to songs it knew.  Jim and I guessed this was similar to a cultural/religious knowledge of Christmas carols, because that huge crowd would unlikely all be practicing Sufis.

Şeb-i Arus, Kadiköy

The Semazen came on last and it was quite late.  The event was highly produced, and the sound unbalanced in the arena.  Combining traditional ancient acoustical instruments, vocal chants and dance with large video screens, booming amplification and roving spot lights created some cognitive dissonance.

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Şeb-i Arus, Kadiköy

Many people, including us, began leaving the arena while the Semazen were still performing their ritual.  The traffic outside was like a football playoff at home.  I loved seeing the happening, but something very fundamental felt lost in that venue.

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Şeb-i Arus, Kadiköy

We found what was lost in Kadiköy at Yenikapı. The Sema involved the same dance with traditional orchestra.  The lodge is a large open room with two floors of seating.  About as large as a medium-sized church, the exquisite space offers an intimate experience.

Yenikapı

Yenikapı

This was a spiritual ritual in a sacred place, but it was welcoming and inclusive.  Many in the audience knew and recited the prayers at the end of the program.   The performance was mesmerizing and holy, even from behind my camera.

Yenikapı

Yenikapı

Another reflection on the “ownership” of truth occurred when Jim and I attended a meeting this week in which a high-level politician from Iraq discussed the impact of US and Western foreign policy on his country.  That will be the subject of another post.

Yenikapı

Yenikapı

Shopping for Basics in Istanbul, Part 2

The push to move to Moda continued…

With our bed installed, we needed bedding and some dishes.  Müge, half of the dynamic female duo managing our Cihangir flat, is an expert on the Kapalıçarşı (Grand Bazaar).  Jim does not conform to the male stereotype of being unwilling to ask – he is always one to seek answers, even if he can’t speak the language of the person he is questioning. (Somehow, he learns what he needs to know)  We needed stuff, why not check out the Grand Bazaar?  Jim called Müge and she led us to a leather shop (not exactly what we were there for) where he bought a shearling coat – he HAD been freezing, having brought coats that sufficed in Northern California — where one is mostly in and out of a warm car, but weren’t adequate for being outdoors in Istanbul.

We asked the leather shopkeeper where to find bedding, and he dispatched an assistant to lead us to Kürkçü Han, an interior courtyard of bedding, drapery and upholstery shops off of Mahmut Paşa Yokuşu, one of the lanes that radiates out of the covered bazaar. He was right when he said we’d never find it on our own.  These “hans”, derived from “khan”, meaning caravanserai,  exist within the Grand Bazaar too.  Some are areas containing specialized shops.

The interior court for bedding, draperies and upholstery.

The interior court for bedding, draperies and upholstery.

Our smart phones served us words for comforter, sheets and bedspread.  It seems Turkish beds come in just two sizes, single and double.  We had been competing for warmth in Cihangir, our comforter being barely big enough.   Once Lucy chose where she would plop, one of us was always left half-covered.  We knew the size of our mattress and tried to buy a duvet that was larger than that. We don’t yet have the hang of centimeters so our size assessments were definite guesstimates.

We came away with all but pillows, once again looking like yabancı (foreigner) pack mules.  No one else in the vast seas of humanity in the mall, metro station or meydanı (square) ever seems to carry more than a bag or two.  All of the pieces fit our mattress and each other…but we are still playing tug of war every night.  That said, the double seems like queen size in the US, and is comfortable for us.  Lucy, though, used to our king bed at home, likes to sprawl.  She puts us to bed, and then leaves for more space elsewhere.

The China “brand” is not popular in Turkey, and there are no labeling laws.  Chinese manufacturers know this and neglect to promote the provenance of their product.  Sometimes you’ll find a teeny “prc” printed…somewhere. I know there are very high and very poor quality Chinese goods.  I am unable to discern the difference. We always ask where things were made. We suspect we were not told the truth in the Kürkçü Han, even though we did enjoy the repartee with the merchants.  Asked where we are from, we always say California.  The two shopkeepers started joking about Arnold Schwarzenegger (this wasn’t the first time Arnold was the Turkish association with California) and they were riffing on Ah-nold’s movies. Once home, unpacking our bedspread, the smell of the fabric was our lesson in learning to look harder for that tiny “prc”.

We left laughing.

We left laughing.

Where I really draw the line on Chinese products is with dishware.  I’ve read horror stories about what might be imbued into my food.  We HOPE the dishes we bought are Turkish made.  The shop said they were, they don’t have “prc”, and the manufacturer’s website leads us to believe it.  Often, we’ve seen, clerks are reluctant to tell us things are made in China, they’ll call it “imported”, or from “outside”.   We also really want to buy Turkish ceramics and textiles – both of those industries produce high quality goods.

The Turkish aesthetic is very different from CA.

The Turkish aesthetic is very different from the one in the US.

Again, we had fun with the shopkeepers.  It was late afternoon on New Year’s Eve and we chatted with the woman, Özlem, who seemed second in command at the Gürpa store on Çiçek Pazarı Sokak.  An expat friend told us this area is basically the wholesale district for the entire city.  Because of Jim’s bargaining gene – which is very useful in this souk – he ultimately identifies the patron of each store. We’d been looking at a dish set and thought  the salesperson understood that we wanted it, however, as we waited it became clear they didn’t realize they had a sale.  Once they did, they beamed, sprung into action and the tea glasses came out.  Jim said no…and I said, yes – convincing Jim we might slow down and do it their way.

I  guess Özlem is 40 or so, and speaks good English.  Some people are attracted to say, elephants.  Jim digs skulls.  Özlem was wearing a skull-shaped ring and opened her cardigan to show another skull on her T-shirt. I told her we called that style Goth in the US.  She knew the term, and said she wasn’t exactly Goth.  We laughed together about how she paid a premium for chic, ripped clothing much to her mother’s chagrin.  We bought glassware, a toaster, and the “breakfast set” with a curious mix of pieces.  Our “breakfast” plates are 9.6 inches, a size Jim is really happy with, because he thinks it makes him eat less.  There are smaller plates, some small bowls (not soup or cereal size), egg cups (!), small tea cups and saucers, a creamer and sugar bowl, large teapot, salt and pepper shaker and napkin holder.  It’s a funny combination, with pieces we’ll never use. When we left, Özlem made us promise to stop in and visit for tea when we were on the street.  I plan to.  I use the egg cups as warming lids on the tall coffee cup I brought from home.

High quality blades of all kinds.

High quality blades of all kinds.

In the souk, we found a combination knife, tools and kitchenware store.  Anything with a blade can be found in that stall.  The inventory ranged from paring knives to hatchets, with a selection of quality kitchen utensils mixed in. The owner had taken over the store from his father.  He offered to sell us a bamboo knife, saying it would not leech vitamins from vegetables when cutting them, like a steel blade would.  Jim and I have noticed that some of the Turkish people we talk to are quick to believe marketing pitches.  We’ve become inured to them, not believing anything – and since we were both marketing professionals at one time, we kind of know what goes on in conference rooms lined with white boards,  Let’s just say, we actively, but not always successfully, resist becoming hapless marketing victims. I’ve searched the web on benefits of bamboo knives over steel ones, and haven’t found even a discussion about it.

Bamboo knives didn't make the cut.

Bamboo knives didn’t make the cut.

For days on end we shlepped back to Cihangir loaded with packages.  We are doing the same thing now in Moda. Once here we needed a mop, broom, laundry rack and so on.  At the little hardware/housewares store on Moda Caddesi, as is his routine, Jim requested a discount.  Arda nicely explained that bargaining is appropriate in the souk, but not here in Moda, and then gave Jim a discount anyway.  The next day Jim stopped back for an extension cord that was 12 lira.  Jim didn’t bargain and Arda gave it to him for 11 TL.  Arda has lived in Moda his entire life, and is its happy ambassador. His shop is our go-to place for house stuff.  He held our first pile of purchases for us while we continued shopping.  We arrived back laden with a floor lamp, a pillow, takeout dinner and some groceries.  I was carrying the brooms and mops, and was too wide a load for the skinny sidewalks. On the street I needed to find a notch to step into between parked cars each time a vehicle appeared.  Two days later I stopped back in, gave Arda a 50 lira note for a 48 lira sale, and received a 5 TL note back.  Shopping in Turkey!

It isn’t only the shopkeepers either. Last night I was in Migros, a chain grocery store.  We haven’t gotten around to submitting our Migros Money card application yet, so the woman in line behind me handed the cashier her card to earn me (or maybe her) the benefits (whatever they are) for my purchases.  I realized what she was doing and thanked her.

I believe the water is potable in Istanbul, but we use bottled water anyway.  We needed water for our new sebil, and walked by a tiny storefront 1½ blocks from the flat.  It was dark and we were on our way to dinner.  The clerk spoke no English, but we understood that 2 bottles cost 13.50 TL, and would be delivered.  She knew our building.  Outside, Jim and I debated WHEN it would be delivered.  I felt we needed to go home because it could be soon.  Unwilling to alter our course, he arbitrarily  decided it would come “later”.  I reminded him that NEITHER of us understood Turkish, therefore neither of us could know when the water would come.  The shopkeeper stepped outside and indicated that it would come now, and I went home to wait for it.  Very shortly there was a ring at our front door – the delivery man must have had a key to the building.  I pantomimed that Lucy was not a threat, paid him, then phoned and went out to join Jim who was investigating a gym membership.

Another thing I love about shopping in Istanbul is how like products are clustered and sold in distinct areas. I can tell you the street for hand tools — near the lower Tünel  station and T1 Karaköy tram station on Tersane Caddesi. Also, within the unruly wholesale souk there is rhyme and reason to shops’ locations.

Last  minute shopping for New Year's.

Last minute shopping for New Year’s.

On New Year’s Eve day, we learned that little old ladies are the same everywhere.  Hordes were last-minute shopping for the holiday.  The general demeanor of the souk was a tolerant, civil frenzy. At one intersection of two narrow cobble-stoned streets, there was utter pedestrian gridlock, which three four-foot early-octogenarians and their sharp elbows blasted open.  Gotta love them!  (Since I would never act that way, I’m relieved that I do not yet qualify as a little old lady!)

We have also found our “old lady” cart.  Arda, our source of Kadiköy protocol, however says such carts are only properly used in the pazar (local farmer’s markets), which may explain their everyday paucity.  We have not yet made it to the highly recommended Salı (Tuesday) Pazar in Kadiköy. Nevertheless, I loaded the cart with the fruits of last night’s errands, and appreciated its utility.  It saves on my elbow that stays sore from tossing Lucy’s ball (tendinitis) and as goofy as it looks, Jim agrees he will use it too.  Aye Yabancı!

Old-lady cart, circa Istanbul 2013.

Old-lady cart, circa Istanbul 2013.

This huge city is really a small town.  That is one reason it is so magnificent.  It is much closer to the farm and village than any city in the US.  I’ll explain in a later post.

Of the Season….Shopping, Part 1

We have been here since Dec. 5.  Eight days ago by crossing the Boğaziçi Bridge, Jim, Lucy, Rita and I moved from Europe to Asia, from Cihangir to Moda.  In reflecting on the past month, mainly what we have done is shop.

Symbol for Turkish Lira since 2012

New symbol for Turkish Lira in 2012. Replaced TL.

Arriving in Istanbul, we first had to find pet supplies.  Our landlord had just lost her cat, so she provided a cat box and ran around the corner to buy litter that first night.   We had pet food with us, so we gratefully addressed our travel exhaustion.  With Lucy in the cargo hold of the plane, I didn’t have a restful flight.

A very fat cat  in the souk-- NOT Rita...though staying inside is making her bigger.

A very fat cat in the souk– NOT Rita…though staying inside is making her bigger.

In Cihangir and Moda, there are many pet shops, but they all carry the same limited supplies. Rita, was an outdoor cat, and needs exercise – but we haven’t found aerobic pet toys.   She used tree trunks as scratching posts, now we need to train her to use the cat condo inside – so we went looking for catnip yesterday, hoping she’d attack the indoor twine wrapped post instead of the furniture.  Google Translate called it catnipli, which didn’t work to explain what we wanted….then we added “like grass”…it became catnipli ot gibi.  Still, no catnip.  Google Translate isn’t perfect…but usually it is close enough to get the idea across.  So, I guess, no dried catnip exists.  I’ll try a nursery next and try to grow it on the kitchen window sill.  Catmint is indigenous to this area.

New Year's Eve Santa in the souk.

New Year’s Eve Santa in the souk.

Four days after we arrived, we started shopping for apartments and grabbed the first place we saw in Moda on Mühürdar Caddesi.  In the year leading to this move I’d done a lot of surfing of Turkish real estate listings.  I knew two things, Mühürdar Caddesi was the place for a view, and rentals didn’t happen often on that street.  Now that we are living here, we feel unbelievably lucky that it was available, it was we who found it, and they would accept our pets. There is one kiralık (for rent) sign on the street, for a basement apartment.  I had assumed we would live on one of the many interior streets of Moda, and just determined it would be a quiet one.  It is reaffirming when things work out so well.

The stall for disco mirror balls.

The stall for disco mirror balls.

Apartments here come in various states of undress.  Often they are simply shells, with the tenant being responsible for adding appliances, even doing some renovation.  Prior tenants take their kitchen cabinets, closets — which are wardrobes they have purchased,  most or all appliances, light fixtures, even electrical outlets and air conditioners, leaving holes in the walls.  Our apartment, fortuitously, is partially furnished.  We began power-shopping for move-in necessities around mid-December.

The little prince -- a costume for the ceremony of circumcision.

I like his looks.  I think this is the costume boys don for their circumcision ceremony.  The souk was SO crowded I had to keep moving and didn’t get the context of the shop.

We needed to know these Turkish words, buzdolabı (refrigerator), bulaşık makinesi (dishwasher), çamaşır makinesi (washing machine), mikrodalga (microwave), elektrikli süpürge (vacuum cleaner), sebil (dispenser for bottled water).  Visiting a Siemens store in Kadiköy, we priced appliances, but there were no English-speaking salespeople.  After totaling the list, Jim asked for a discount.  Another man appeared, who spoke some English and Jim did some first level negotiating. Thanking them, we walked down the block to the Samsung store.  There, standing in the door, wearing a Samsung vest and saying “hoş geldiniz” (welcome) was the man who had just helped Jim negotiate at Siemens. Jim laughed and told him he knew the price he had to beat.  We bought all the appliances, plus a TV and they were delivered on Christmas Day, about 4 days later.

Here's the alley for bubble wrap.

Here’s the alley for bubble wrap.

To move in, we also needed a bed.  Two days before Christmas we selected some furniture, a bed and mattress at TepeHome, due to be delivered January 2.  In both cases, the goods came exactly when they said they would.  The customer service here, the short time frames and reliability amazes us!  The delivery people show up, they quickly install, they breakdown the packaging and cart it away.  Done!

Baking cupcakes?

Baking cupcakes?

Christmas Eve, our guests discussed internet and cable television options with us.  As we ate sweets from Elif’li and Hafiz Mustafa 1864 we called the provider, got an English speaking rep and ordered a package.  They said it would be delivered in eight days.  Two days later, Jim was at the apartment and the installer showed up.  It would have been completed, but we learned then that we needed our ikamet (residence visa) to set up the service.  It will take until 23 January for me to have the ikamet in my hand, so we bought Turkcell surf sticks (USB modems) for the interim.

Or cookies?  Stalls loaded with baking supplies.

Or cookies? Stalls loaded with baking supplies.

So, this is shopping in Turkey.   I find dragging around to malls and shops to be exhausting, but the actual transactions have been unbelievably easy. We made a number of research excursions to a few of the malls around to see what was available.  That, plus searching the web, helped us decide where to buy, and we did one-stop shopping for our white furnishings (appliances), white goods and for our furniture.  The people we interact with also make the tedious task of shopping a fun experience, see Shopping, Part 2.

Warning: Food Porn

Friday was Jim’s 65th birthday.  Just in front of the tram stop at Fındlıkı station is this shop:

Elif'li Pasta and Cafe

Elif’li Pasta and Cafe

and, it provided our takeout dinner.  Pasta means this:

He could "eat a whole tray of that stuff and not blink an eye"...

He could “eat a whole tray of that stuff and not blink an eye”…

So, pasta (pastries) was our main course, topping off the signing of our lease on an apartment in Moda.

It got very cold as the sun dropped in the afternoon, our realtor was talking snow, although there is none in the forecast so far. Istanbullus LOVE the outdoors.  In our new home town of Moda (as of January 1) people dine al fresco in mid December, aided by establishment-provided pashminas and patio heaters.  I wonder what it will take to get us all inside?

Our visitors will need to ride the glorious ferry to see the tourist gems of the ages, but when they work their way back to Anatolia, they will revel in Moda and Kadiköy’s charms too…

Basically, we took the first flat we looked at…we did look at another in Kabataş/Beyoğlu, which we really liked, and in some respects was more suitable, but the Moda place has a wide open view of the Sea of Marmara, facing west.  That means big boats and daily sunsets.  The street in front is very quiet, the Kadiköy/Moda Tramvay is 1/2 block away if for some reason we don’t want a 10 minute stroll along the water to the ferry, and directly down steps is a big park on the corniche for our athletic water dog.

Beyoğlu is charming in an old European way, with very narrow, VERY steep  cobblestoned streets and long sheer stairsteps.  There are tiny groceries, several to a block, but none of the goods inside have inspired us to step into the kitchen.

On our reconnaissance trip in May, we walked many of the streets we do now. We ranged all over Beyoğlu, up along the Golden Horn to Fener and Balat, we scaled the Asian cliffs of Kuzguncuk, ruling it out because it felt a bit far away from the center.  Taking Istanbul’s traffic into consideration, we chose against Beşiktaş because we would have been reliant on street-bound buses   We learned the hard way one long Sunday afternoon, when every bus that stopped was full and we walked all the way home, that rail and water were desirable. Were it not for an American friend who was living in Moda, we may not have made our way over there, but the minute we stepped off the ferry in Kadiköy, it felt more “us”.  It was a bit more “beachy”, lighter, more open.  It is still very urban, and today it felt like a smaller town in Europe.  Moda (a neighborhood) in larger Kadiköy has enough going on to be interesting and yet seems small enough to be personal.  We were Upper West Siders in Manhattan in the early 80’s when hookers worked Broadway above 84th street and beyond 96th Street was the DMZ. I chose my NY apartment, partly because I could hear birds over the street noise.

So, here is a sampling of what caught our eye as we roamed our future neighborhood just before we signed our rental lease.

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This'll get us in the kitchen!

This’ll get us in the kitchen!

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From the marzipan garden

From the marzipan garden

How about a mushroom omelet?

How about a mushroom omelet?

Türks love sweets...for a minute I thought I was in Paris.

Türks love sweets…maybe more than Jim does.

Eat those fruits and veggies!

Eat those fruits and veggies!

This is available in December!

This is available in December!

Türks have been uniformly welcoming to us.  We really need to speak the language to live here, but when we are standing on the street perplexed, trying to communicate in our only language, English, a local who does speak English always steps in to help out.

And, consumerism is alive and well…all customers are welcome…

"A nice bath for junior, don't you think?"

“A nice bath for junior, don’t you think?”

"I'll play bad cop..."

“I’ll play bad cop…”

Sonra görüsürüz!  (see you later)