Category Archives: Kadikoy

Water Water Neverwhere


Do not count on me, reader, in endtimes. Whether it’s the zombie apocalypse, war, “a series of rapid percussions,” nuclear holocaust, the Mayans coming back to get us whatever, I don’t think I’m going to survive after the first few days without running water. 

“I have water,” A boasted last night. “I took a long hot shower before I came here.” 

“Bastard,” I said. “I’m gummy. I’m actually gummy. I think if you threw something at me it would stick to my filth.” 

B threw a coaster at me. 

“Do you still have water though?” asked C. “Because I had it for two hours and then it went away again.” 

“We definitely didn’t have water when I left the house,” I offered. “I kept lifting the tap, mournfully, you know, and hoping. I wound up just swiping my important bits with a damp cloth. You’re all welcome.” B began giving me an elaborate sniff test. “Fuck off!” 

“I heard it might not come back until Friday,” RM said. “Some kid on the street told me that today.” 

“But the website says-” 

“The website says it was supposed to be on six hours ago.” 

“I was really hoping they’d have water here. I need to poop.” 

“You know,” I said, “that is something that has totally been freaking me out? No one, not our bartender, not the guy who just sold B a kebab, no one at the grocery store- I mean NO ONE has been able to wash their hands properly in the last two days.” 

“I did at work-” 

“Like I said we had it for two hours today and I took a shower, I started a load of laundry, I cleaned the kitchen…” 

“I can’t even go in our kitchen now. It’s awful. I think it would be better to burn it down.” 

“Is this your first water cut?” C asked me. 

“It’s my first of any length. I’m used to it going out for a few hours, usually when I’m late for work, but two days is- special, and I of course if they would just TELL you beforehand…”

“Yeah. We had a four day one last year. That was fun.” 

“Oh, Turkey.” 

“Oh Turkey.” 



Filed under Daily Life, Kadikoy

How To Not Lose 3 Cats

If your roommate goes to Europe for a week, and leaves you in charge of her three cats, and if you are not, strictly speaking, a cat person, you may have a few misgivings about caring for them. After all, if you’re like me, during your first night in the house you had a massive nightmare that all three escaped through the door you accidentally left open, while you, dream paralyzed, could only watch in horror. But when RM tells you she can have her friend check in on them, that will seem like such a pussy move. I mean, they’re cats. Minimum requirements are: feed, water, scoop poop, and don’t kick. If you spend an hour a day cuddling and petting, you’re a damned hero in their eyes. You can handle that.

It might happen that in the early morning hours the night before RM comes home, you will wake up to hear one of them humping (or something) the trash bag you left by the door. You will groan, roll out of bed, deposit the trash in the corridor, (have I mentioned lately how lovely it is that everyone, not just rich folks, just leaves their trash outside their door, and someone comes and picks it up?) and return for a couple more hours of sleep.

When you wake up it will be almost sunny outside, you’ll feel refreshed and well rested, and the day will seem full of possibility. You’ll stretch and wonder where to start. You’ll get out of bed, pad down the hall, and fill up the food bowls. No one will come running. That is very, very strange. You’ll pad back down the hall and see, to your horror, that the door, which has a persnickety latch, is cracked open.

At this point you will feel like panicking, but don’t quite yet. First gallop up and down the apartment, looking for any signs of cat anywhere, muttering “stupid, stupid, stupid” under your breath. Then pour more cat food into a bowl. When they still don’t appear, put on JUST enough clothing to avoid arrest, wrap up in a shawl and run out  of the apartment with a suitably crazed look on your face. Look everywhere as you make your way down the staircase.

As you approach the first floor you’ll notice the air getting colder and when you hit the floor your worst fears will be confirmed: because of the construction in the first floor apartment, the front door is wide open.

Before panic sets in you’ll want to formulate this scenario- mischievous cats go exploring in the stairwell, get frightened by buzz saws, run outside, too scared to come back in building because of previously mentioned buzz saws and also big scary men running in and out, they go… god knows where.

Ask the nearest construction worker, in your best turkish,

“Three cats are there?”

Be sure to sound like you’re about to cry.

“You speak English?” he’ll say.

“Yes,” say gratefully.

“No cats. What do they look like?”

“Gray. Much hair.” Make gestures to indicate their various sizes.

“No cats,” he’ll say. He’ll follow you outside as you start poking around the garden.

“There’s a cat, signora!” He’ll point to a tabby under the car across the street. “And there- the cats are black?”

“No, gray,” you should say. “One is like that-” gesture to a cat on the hood of a car, “but much, much bigger.”

“Bigger,”he’ll muse. “What about that one?”

Say “hayir,” and try not to get impatient.

Look everywhere in the garden,

You’ll see cats everywhere. On cars, under cars, in windowsills, on top of sheds, walking in the streets, eating from the bowls the neighbor set out, under the stairs. None of them will be the cats you’re looking for.

At this point, you might want to start envisioning RM’s face when you tell her you lost her cats, and how she’ll probably cry. To do this properly you should feel shittier than you have in a whole winter of feeling very shitty. Run upstairs, grab a bowl of kibble, and come back outside. The helpful construction worker will ask you if you found them. Suppress the urge to hit him, and the equally strong urges to cry and run away. Walk down the street, seawards, because that feels luckier, shaking the bowl and crooning the cats’ names. You’ll soon be followed by half a dozen strays, looking at you expectantly. When you get to where the street ends, by the staircase down to the park, look at the dogs lounging in the sunshine, and try not to envision them eating RM’s cats. On the way back, peer into every garden you pass. Walk the other way up the street, to the corner with the tekel shop. Try not to dwell on the moment you screwed up, really screwed up, this morning when you were half asleep and didn’t give the door an extra tap.

Sit on the front steps and shake the bowl of kibble feebly. The construction worker will come out and say,

“In Turkish you call cats like this. Psss psss psss psss. Just do that. They will come. Psss psss psss..” Try not to throttle him for assuming you don’t know universal calling a cat language. Look at the strays circling you and feel hopeless. A cat in the garden at this moment will probably chase another off from a chicken bone with much howling and hissing. You should probably at this point dwell on the helplessness of indoor cats in the complicated hierarchies and kingdoms the strays have set up out here, which you’ve never fully appreciated before. As you watch them you’ll realize they have codes and rules, territories and seniorities you can’t decifer. You will also realize there’s a whole daytime people street culture you were unaware of. Old men wander by and shout to invisible people through apartment windows. Women come out with bowls of food for the animals. The simit man comes by and a woman on an upper floor lowers a bucket with money in it. He takes the money and deposits a number of simit. She hauls it up. Down the street a woman with a broom pauses her work to talk to a next door neighbor who’s come out with a box of old clothes for the gypsies.

But don’t let this distract you from what clearly happened: the cats got out of the apartment because of your carelessness, got scared by the construction noise, ran outside, got beaten up for trespassing on some tabby’s square of garden, and if they didn’t then get eaten by a dog, ran off.. where? Where would you run if you were an apartment cat on the mean streets of Moda?

You will have no fucking clue.

Go back to the apartment. You’re doing no good on the steps, you’re just making the strays angry, teasing them with kibble. Go to the sun porch and look out to see if you can see them, while you formulate a plan. You won’t see the cats, and you won’t think of anything good. Consider googling the French Foreign Legion, but since you won’t be able to remember if they take women or not, decide that they don’t and go stand in the kitchen for no reason whatsoever and stare into the middle distance.

In a moment a sound will catch your ear. Through the construction noise and street noise and the noise of the birds and the distant barking dog you’ll hear a bowl clinking against tile. Your ears will perk, but don’t move. Listen hard. The sound will come again.

Move stealthily down the hall. There won’t, of course be any cats by the cat bowls, but if you turn your head fast enough you’ll see a tail disappearing beneath the dustruffle on RM’s bed.

Bend down.

Lift the dust ruffle.

See six eyes looking at you, all in a row.

Congratulations! You have successfully not lost three cats.


Filed under Daily Life, Kadikoy, Strays

Pointless Ferry Ride

This week one of my students is in Egypt on business, and another is just MIA, so I have an unprecedented amount of free time in the mornings and early afternoons. Plan A was to spend it all outside like I’ve been dying to do for the past few weeks. I envisioned writing on a park bench, reading on a blanket on the grass, picnics on the rocks- but the temp fell five degrees, just to the point where a walk in the sunshine is nice, but it’s too cold to hang out. Then I got really excited about just hanging out around the house. Cleaning, reading and writing on the sun porch, taking out my spring clothes…

Every spring I get so excited- about the warm weather, the sunshine, the flowers, the blooming trees, bringing out my summer frocks- that I forget two hard truths that come with every April: bugs and construction projects.

Monday I woke up to the sound of the first floor apartment being gutted.

Cruelest month indeed.

I went to the park for an hour or so. I ran every errand I could think of. I came back to the apartment and plugged into my i-pod, (which is so old and broken now it only plays one playlist) and got some things done.

By dusk there was a huge pile of drywall and pipes outside the apartment, Blonde Dog and Black Dog were gone, and I had a headache.

This morning I woke up to banging and drilling again.

It will not do.

We have to get out of the house. I don’t have any cash, so unless you want to spot me some….? No? Okay. Well, then our options are limited.  More so by the fact that I have to be at work at three. We could go for a walk, I guess.

Or go to work early.

JESUS CHRIST. WHAT ARE THEY DOING?!?!? Are they cutting through support beams? Is it even safe to sleep here anymore?

That’s it.  We’re leaving.

Get your coat. We’re out of here.

We’ll just go on a pointless ferry ride.

Did I ever tell you about Umut, who I used to work with? He was a piece of work. I went out for fish dinner and raki with him one night- perfectly harmless, he was married, poor woman- in Kadikoy. When we passed this statue

he asked if I knew the story of it. I said no.

“A long time ago, there was a peasant boy who loved a girl, but they couldn’t be together so he turned himself into a bull. He put her on his back and swam across the Bosporus.”

“Oh wait, I do know that story,” I said.  “But it wasn’t a peasant boy, it was the Greek god Zeus. And the girl’s name was Europa. ”

Umut didn’t say anything for a minute. I would later learn that he had anger problems, and that he hated it when anyone, particularly a woman, knew something he didn’t. Once he pointed out to me that the escalator and its handrail move at different speeds. When I said “Yup,” instead of, I don’t know, “Oh my God! I never noticed that before!” (because I never used the handrail before? I guess?) he sulked. Like he was sulking now.

“I hadn’t heard that,” he eventually said, stiffly. “I heard it was a peasant boy.”

“Maybe there are different stories,” I said lamely. He didn’t respond.

But regardless, this bull, which now mostly functions as a convenient place for people to meet, or a landmark when giving directions, or a prop for teenagers to take their pictures with, is actually Zeus, who has just turned himself into a shining white bull. He’ll go to the meadow where Europa is picking flowers in a moment, and she’ll ooh and ahh over what a lovely bull he is- and so tame! and so gentle!- and when she gets close to put a garland of flowers around his neck, he’ll flip her on his back and make a run for the sea and carry her across the Bosporus to Europe. She’ll call out for someone to save her but no one will, cause, you know, it’s Zeus. And when they get to Europe he’ll rape her. It all started here, folks.

I’m pretty sure, anyway.

Here we are at the ferry dock- the next boat’s at 13:20, but it looks like we can board soon. Boarding is always a shovey experience. When getting on any form of transit in Istanbul I often find myself chanting “Be aggressive, be be aggressive” in my head and waving imaginary pom-poms around. Old ladies are the worst. They’ll cut a bitch for their preferred seat.

Here we are. Breathe the sea air. In and out. Forget about the noisy flat and everything you could be doing at home right now. Forget about the layer of demo dust that’s sure to be filtering up and settling over all your things now. Just look around at beautiful Kadikoy, with its acres of lush mini-buses,

its many, many full-sized buses,

I’m pretty sure that pink building is a sewage treatment center. There’s one somewhere around here, anyway.

And this thing might be my favorite eyesore. I mean I guess K-koy doesn’t have the most esthetic coast line but c’mon. That little jutty bit with the sea wall wouldn’t be so bad- but Turkbalon is so ugly, and doesn’t blend in with anything, and you can see it from Europe. Also, I have lived in Istanbul for nearly a year and a half, now,  ten months of that in Kadikoy, and I have seen this thing in the air ONCE. ONCE. It’s ugly and it’s not even useful.

Oh! We’re off! Goodbye for now, Kadikoy. I’ll come back in an hour to catch a bus to work.

Oh, lookit that! I think these are the new trains for the new metroline! All shiney and still in their shrink wrap!

I remember back in my late teens and very early twenties, when I was babysitting, if a toddler in my charge was having a bad day, or was restless or bored, or if I was restless and bored, a great activity was to hop in the stroller and go visit a construction site. Toddlers totally bliss out staring at the big machines doing their thing, and the grumpies are totally forgotten.

I think this works well on 33 year old women, too.

I mean, how cool is all this stuff for moving cargo containers?!

Okay. Goodbye, cranes.

There’s the Maiden’s Tower. It was built 2500 years ago or so to control the flow of ships up and down the Bosporus, and rebuilt by the Byzantines as a fortress. Now it’s a restaurant for tourists. This is also where a Sultan imprisoned his daughter for many years, because a prophesy foretold that on her eighteenth birthday she’d be bitten by a snake and die. Of course, he brought her a basket of grapes to celebrate her eighteenth birthday, and didn’t bother to check them for asps.

Once I was teaching a group of high school girls. One interrupted the (not terribly interesting) lesson to ask what was my favorite tourist spot in Istanbul. I had to wrack m brain for a polite and conventional answer because- you read this blog- I don’t go to many tourist spots, but I think I came out with a strangled, “Sultanahmet! Hagia Sofia!” “Teacher, have you gone to the Maiden’s Tower?” “I haven’t yet,” I said, feeling inadequate. I really don’t do enough STUFF. You know, I still haven’t been inside the Blue Mosque? Isn’t that ridiculous? “Teacher, you must go,” the girl insisted. “Maiden Tower very beautiful. Very nice.” The rest of the students agreed, nodding and murmuring. “Do you go there a lot?” I asked. They looked startled and shook their heads. “Have you- ever been there?” “No,” said the instigator, “but it’s very nice.”

And here is a big old cargo boat.

And here are some little boats. Wouldn’t it be nice to have your own little boat to cross the Bosporus in? Of course, your own little boat wouldn’t sell you simit and tea, but that’s about the only disadvantage I can think of off the top of my head.

And this is the sky today. Isn’t it nice?

And there’s Europe.

Okay and let’s go upstairs cause we are disturbing some kind of moment with our picture taking.

And this is the view out to the sea. A little hazy today, but still nice, no?



I wonder where we are?

Here’s the Halic bridge. We’re passing the Golden Horn

And here’s Eminonu!

If we had time, we could wander over the Halic bridge to Karakoy. Look at the fishermen. Dodge the unbelievably (even for Istanbul) aggressive waiters who lurk outside the fish restaurants on the lower story. Or we could wander through the spice market, which is right behind that big mosque we’re looking at. But we don’t. We’ll just exit the ship and get right back on and head back to K-koy, feeling quite a bit better about life, and exponentially less stabby, than when we left the apartment.

Rating of Pointless Ferry Ride

Cost: (with Istanbul kart) 2.75

Duration: 1:15

Entertainment Value: 6/10

Cultural/Educational Value: dubious

Easy to Do: 10/10

Snack Proximity: Excellent

Good Thing to Do When You’re Cranky?: YES.


Filed under Kadikoy, Photos, Seeing Sights

Sunday Morning

Last night when I posted a “Hey, suckers, this is at the end of my street” photo on Twitter,

Kat replied, ” I would never get anything done. I would just stare at the lovelies all day.” That is a problem. Istanbul is a gorgeous city full of spectacular views. I don’t even have the best. Not even close. But I can see a wedge of sea from the porch where I’m eating breakfast,

and it’s not conducive to wanting to go to work. I could be there

in five minutes with a book and a picnic lunch. (Okay, actually, to get there in five minutes I’d be lunchless and pantsless and out of breath, but you get the idea. ) Or call up some people and meet them down there. Maybe someone could bring a guitar. That would be nice. Or hell, it would be nice to sit on this porch all day, reading, or doing my Turkish homework or something.

I could look out the window at the sea whenever I wanted, or lean out to see what Blonde Dog and Black Dog are doing- what are they doing?

Oh. Harrassing some poor fluffy fop of a person’s dog. Figured they were up to no good. Seriously, I could watch them run up and down the street all day. Doesn’t that sound more fun than going to work? Do I have to go?


Okay, take one long last wistful look behind you- we’re walking away from the sea.

Oh jesus and the trees are in bloom too-

If the nostaljik tramvay is at the corner, we could take that. That’s always fun.

But it might be just heartbreaking when we get to the bottom of the hill and round the corner and see this

No. We’ll walk.

Here is the bus.

One last look at the Bosporus.

And we’ll go to work. Where this is the view from the window.


Filed under Daily Life, Kadikoy, Photos, Strays

Language success story.

My Turkish speaking and listening skills, which are never hot outside of a controlled setting where people are speaking slowly, are improving!

This morning, for instance, I was able to ask a man standing in the bizarrely empty bus terminal, where I’ve never seen fewer than seventy-five or so buses,

“Hey, what’s going on?” I didn’t understand his answer, but I was able to plow fearlessly ahead with, “Where are the buses?”

He said something, and then asked me where I was going. I said I was going to work, near Capitol, and that I needed a 13, or a 14, or a 14R, or a 14Y, or a 15, or a 110, or a 500A, or a… He interrupted me to say,

“Unfortunately there is not. You have a problem.” Then he shrugged in a very Turkish way and moseyed down the street, which was lined by policemen and heavy-duty police fencing, and completely empty of cars.


I was then able to ask a succession of policemen where the buses were. One said, “Over there,” brusquely and turned away. One sighed and consulted his partner, and then said something I didn’t understand at all. The last one assured me the buses were by the Carrefour shopping center, so I walked there, where I was able to further practice my Talking to Strangers in Turkish skills by asking a mini-bus driver,

“Excuse me? Where are the buses from Kadikoy?”

“There aren’t any!” he said cheerfully.

“What?” I said. “The policeman over there is talking the buses from Kadikoy are at Carrefour!”

“Unfortunately not, no buses. There’s a meeting in Kadikoy. No buses.”

Huh. So much for being early to work and having a stress-free cup of coffee while I made photocopies in peace. I did some quick mental math- there was no money in my wallet, so I was limited to public transportation unless I walked 45 minutes back home which would make me X late for work, but then again it might take me another half hour to walk to the metrobus station which would make me Y late for work…

“How do I go?” I said, helplessly.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to work. I’m going to Altunizade.”

“This mini-bus is going to altunizade! Come! This one! We are going!”

“I don’t have any money,” I said. “No money.”

“No problem! No money! Get in!”

“Okay. Thanks!”

It almost makes me wish the transit would randomly stop running without any warning and without any instructions of what to do or where to go more often so I can flex my new locative case muscles.


Filed under Daily Life, Kadikoy

Breakfast in Bed

Breakfast in Bed

When I came out of the apartment this morning the next door neighbor was rewarding and reinforcing black dog and blonde dog’s poor behavior by bringing them delicious chicken scraps and cooing and generally fussing over them while they gulped down their treats.

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March 29, 2012 · 10:42

Dog’s Life

Dana (who’s been on my mind a bunch lately, maybe because we haven’t spoken in a minute) once said that she wanted to come back as one of my grandmother’s cats. It’s not a bad placement if you ever find yourself having any say-so in your reincarnation options, but if I were you I’d keep that as my plan B “safety” next life, and I’d focus my energies on polishing my essay for why you want to come back as a stray dog in Kadikoy.

(In my conception of the hindu afterlife, cycling through the samsara is apparently a lot like getting into college.)

When I first put my Stays of Istanbul set up on Flickr, I got an e-mail from an acquaintance saying, among other things, how when she was in Istanbul she was HEARTBROKEN, (caps not mine) by all the homeless dogs and cats here, and she couldn’t understand how Turkish people could allow it or why I would celebrate it.

If Istanbul were like just about any city in America, especially Baltimore, where animal cruelty has been on the rise  for the past few years, and where a street dog’s life is short and brutal, her emotional response would have been appropriate. If you see a dog wandering around without a human parent in Baltimore and you don’t try to find its person or get it to a shelter, you’re kind of a jerk. I have a friend who hopped off a bike once and chased and somehow caught a cat, and then spent considerable time and energy finding that cat a suitable home. There’s a whole system of fostering animals, for Christ’s sake, that seems ridiculous from this side of the Atlantic, because if the government would just step up with a tagging program and dole out some vaccines and fixings, and if the citizens would just be BETTER, just a little bit BETTER, and not scoop up lost dogs for dog fights or set them on fire,  then you could just set out a bowl of kibble and walk away with a clean conscience.

Because these dogs are happy.

There’s a dude who sometimes crashes in our garden, a big fat sandy-colored mutt I inventively call Blonde Dog. He has a buddy I equally inventively call Black Dog. I don’t know where Black Dog sleeps when Blonde Dog sleeps on the concrete pad by our dumpster, but  I know that when Blonde Dog graces us with his presence, Black Dog ambles by, usually sometime between 4 and 6 in the morning, and the two start arguing. (Which explains Blonde Dog’s nick name: That Asshole. As in, “That Asshole barked from 4:30 until the first call for prayer this morning, so don’t judge me for chain drinking nescafe.”) I don’t know what happens to their friendship at night, but during the day they’re the best of buds. They remind me, again, of Dana and I when we were little. We were as close as sisters and did just about everything together, but every playdate devolved into an energetically fraught argument. I remember a big one when we were six or so, about a barbie I’d said I’d lend her, but reneged on at the last minute. It took her literally years to forgive me. It still comes up, sometimes, at Thanksgiving. I lay awake listening to the dogs in the early hours, idly fantasizing about b.b. guns, and filling in the words. “But you SAID I could sleep on the concrete pad! You’re hogging all the kitchen waste!” “I KNOW I SAID IT BUT I CHANGED MY MIND I’M ALLOWED TO CHANGE MY MIND LEAVE ME ALONE OR I’LL TELL MY MOM!!!”

Yesterday when I came out of the house Blonde dog was sprawled across our path and Black Dog was standing in the street, just chilling. Blonde Dog turned his head around and looked at me expectantly.

“Don’t look at me, jerk,” I said. “I’m mad at you.” His tail went thump thump thump against the pavement. Black Dog cocked his head inquisitively at me as I passed and gave a little happy yip. I rolled my eyes. “You are both BAD DOGS,” I said. Blonde Dog rolled over on his back and yawned. When I came back from the store they were gone.

Later, from the sun porch window I saw them on their way down to the sea park at the end of our street.

(I’m almost as great a photographer as I am a drawer.)

They were playing some kind of demented game, I believe the object of which was to be the first to lick the parked cars, and as they zig-zagged down the street I thought I have seldom seen such happy dogs in the states. And it seemed to me that that moment, watching those two zig-zag down to the sea on a sunny afternoon, and cars slow to wait for them to get out of the way, and them oblivious to everything but what they were doing, that moment summed up what I find so fascinating about the street dogs, and why I want to come back as one. Unlike a dog with a proper home, they have agency. Instead of being cooped up in an apartment all day they roam the neighborhood. There are parks,

and busy streets to guard,

and all manner of things to eat from fresh meat at the grocery store or butcher shop, to kibble from the nice old men at the park or at the tea shop, to the leavings at the fish market. There are pigeons to chase and boats to watch and- cars to lick, or whatever those two yokels were doing yesterday. And most of all, there’s companionship. There’s a bunch of these dudes in Kadikoy, and you see them trotting around together, in groups of two or three. Tussling, or just exploring the streets together, or sprawled in a patch of sunlight together. And when you see dogs roaming free and picking their own friends, it starts to seem unnatural to stick them in an apartment and pick their friends for them.

But maybe I’m romanticizing a little, because they remind me of all those books I loved when I was a kid- the Boxcar Children, (oh wait- again it was Dana who loved those, not me) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, any book, really, where adults were suddenly absent and the kids had to run around by themselves. I think that’s why orphan-hood is such a popular trope in children’s lit: noone WANTS their parents to be killed in a tragic car accident, of course, but what child isn’t secretly, guiltily kind of thrilled by the idea of the ultimate escape from parental authority? What child doesn’t greedily and hungrily consume stories of kids who are left alone to run around having madcap adventures, with no one to tell them what to do?

And that, it seems to me, is a dog’s life in Kadikoy.

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Filed under Daily Life, Kadikoy, Photos, Strays, Turkish Culture

Sheep, after.

I took this photo for my childhood best friend Dana, who I’m pretty sure believes all food in Turkey is like this, and is worried that when I come home I’ll bring her some.

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Filed under Daily Life, Food, Kadikoy, Photos

Sheep and Kitten


So in November there’s a big sacrifice festival, where people buy sheep or goats or sometimes even cows or bulls to sacrifice as a family, and give the meat to the poor. It’s a nice holiday, in a slaughter-in-the-streets kind of way. So where, you might be asking, in a very urban, sprawling, modern city surrounded by suburbs, where do 17 million people get their animals? Well, there are these places in Istanbul where livestock is shipped in from the countryside before the event, and held in pens, and then you can buy your beast and- I’m a little fuzzy on the next details, actually, having been out of town for the past two Kurbans. I wonder if they deliver your bull, or if you have to pick it up?

At any rate, there are three such businesses on my route to work, and they’re advertised year round with a live sheep, like the one above, and this guy.

I went out last Wednesday to take pictures of my three sheep buddies. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, and I wanted to get some exercise, so I took a long, meandering route. It was the first truly nice day after a week of cold gray chill, and there were lots of people out even though it was mid-morning on a Wednesday. In the park, dogs were basking in the grassy verges and kids were swarming over the playground equipment. Old men sat on benches and smoked. People were drinking tea at the tables outside the tea shops for the first time in a long time. Bundled up and gloved and hatted, but still. Outside. So I guess I should have expected when I got to the area the sign-sheeps are sharing with a massive, several acre construction project, that their old-man minders would be sitting outside with them, but somehow I was thrown.


The first old man was sitting on a stool next to his sheep. He was wearing an old sweater and jacket and cap, and had a luxuriously Turkish moustache and I thought you could take a picture of him and his sheep with the Instagram app on your i-phone and pass the photo off as having been taken any time between now and, say, 1915. I also thought he was glaring at me as I approached, like he knew I wanted to take a photo of him and resented dumb blonde Americans thinking of him as a tourist attraction.

I walked meekly by. Both he and the sheep turned their heads and watched me go.

The next sheep and his minder were more or less the same, but when I walked up the street, this guy was alone. His minder was sitting around the corner drinking tea with a his buds at a table outside one of those little tea shops where you just know a woman has never set foot. So I snapped this picture as quickly as my little point and shoot would let me

A second later a woman in a headscarf and the kind of long, flowered skirt the gypsies wear came out and put her hands on her hips and screamed something in my direction. It’s entirely possible that she was hollering at someone behind me, but I took no chances. I fled.


Filed under Daily Life, Kadikoy, Photos, Special Occassions, Turkish Culture

The Picture I Didn’t Take 2: Erotik Shop

Technically I tried very hard to take a picture of this but my little point-and-shoot, (never good at night) was having none of it. Either the neon light of the erotic shop was blurred, or else the wedding dresses right below it receded into shadow instead of glowing softly against the dark shop interior like princessey, bridal ghosts. Princessey bridal ghosts! How erotik!

Here is the picture I took of the picture I drew of the picture I didn’t take, but not for lack of trying.

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Filed under Kadikoy, The Picture I Didn't Take