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Published: August 15th 2008
Summer life in İstanbul - does it get much better than this?
I am temporarily living with a very wonderful and interesting collection of people.
We lost Lütfiye in the Levent bazaar the other day. Permanently "in gear," she went from vendor to vendor, negotiating relentlessly all transactions. Matt and I had drifted away from the clothing and household goods part of the bazaar and were drooling our way through the fresh produce and cheeses.
As with every other aspect of her life, as far as I can tell, everything that happened in the bazaar happened on Lütfiye's own terms. Thankfully, she's a reasonable person and almost always makes for a good roommate. She and Matt have hit it off and taken to addressing one another as "aşkım" ("my love"), if only in jest.
Matt arrived about two weeks ago and admirably has been working diligently since stepping off the plane. He takes his nose out of his books in the wee hours and catches a few hours of sleep before the sun gets fiercely hot again. He's not even made it yet to Sultanahmet, Beyazıt, and some of the other touristy neighborhoods which comprise the entire
İstanbul experience for many, if not the majority of, foreign visitors.
He's been cooking a lot since his arrival, to the joy of many and the blood pressure-sizzling alarm of Lütfiye. He cooks the way a puppy fingerpaints: enthusiastically and from the heart. Lütfiye views many of his culinary enterprises as chaotic butter-slinging offensives, if not downright stove-top warfare, aimed at reducing her spotless kitchen to a smoke-blackened, maggot-filled grease den. She never hesitates to give her "love" a piece of her mind, in rapid Turkish that he can't understand, to the amusement of anybody who happens to be around.
A few days ago she told me that we are dirty people, who smell like onions. Yesterday she tried to forbid Matt from even entering the kitchen...
Sercan keeps life entertaining. When he's not running around the house barking through his bullhorn, he's confounding couchsurfers and other passersby with the wacky and surprising things that pour out of his mouth, or presiding over a complicated meal production in the kitchen. Often it's some combination of these things, and all-too-often he is clad only in boxer shorts during his performances - never one to ease newcomers into his
personality. Then, with the snap of a finger he disappears off to İznik, Ankara, çesme, Antalya, or some other city, for days at a time. Thankfully, he has a golden heart.
Jaki is made out of laughter and joy, Judith, his sweetheart, of cuteness and sass. They fill the house with dancing, jokes, and stories. They do not seem opposed to slipping away to the beach when time allows. You will be hard-pressed to find two people more infected with innocence and pure love for life.
Lately, life has involved a lot of cooking, reading, studying Turkish, and trying to keep my life in order via e-mails - not the most exciting stuff for a blog entry. I must admit that it's been good to relax a bit after a summer of full-on, non-stop travel. And, of course, there have certainly been some notable exceptions.
A few weeks back Jaki's friend got us into the Kenan Doğulu concert for free. That alone would have been cool enough, but before I knew it, we were climbing the spotlighting rig from where we would enjoy the best seats in the house! To the right, boats drifted up and down
the Bosphorus, with lights from the Asian side in the background. Below us, thousands and thousands of screaming fans took in a night of great music on a perfect summer evening.
I must admit that I had no idea who Kenan Doğulu was before the concert, but I recognized a number of songs as the night went on. He struck me as being incredibly down-to-earth and despite the flashy poppy production of it all, it came through as a sincere, quality performance; truly a great night of music.
I've been spending a lot of time with my sweetheart lately. Mehraneh is about a half hour away, in Mecidiyeköy, if traffic is good. She's been showing me parts of the city that I'm not familiar with yet. I'm trying to convince her that not all dogs are scary and she's trying to convince me that shopping is a fun thing to do. Her internship will end in a few weeks and then she'll head back to Ankara, signaling that the summer is rapidly coming to an end.
Mehraneh's sister, Bahar, happened to be in town last weekend, so she joined my Beyoğlu birthday celebration, along with Jale, Oğus,
Farah (a couchsurfer), Matt, and Sercan. After a quick köfte dinner, Mehraneh took us to a rooftop place named Balkon, which has an unbelievable view of the city. We stayed until after the sunset and then headed over to Club Araf, for hours of dancing to an eclectic blend of music (with a lot of Balkan stuff - read: best dance music on earth! - thrown into the mix). It was an excellent birthday.
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