Sunday, September 27, 2015

So Much To Learn

Everyone sings the praises of the Mediterranean diet. It's so delicious and healthy, thanks to the health and flavor benefits of olive oil. But what no one tells you is how olive oil can leave unsightly stains on your clothes, especially if you're anything like me and you make a mess when you eat.

I just inadvertently spilled olive oil for the second time on a new peach-colored dress. I bought the summer dress from a sidewalk clothes rack for just 25 lira, so it didn't set me back too much. But still, I liked my dress better without the oil blotches. I will have to learn to eat like a respectable lady if I want to keep my clothes in good condition.

I must also learn to order food in a way that doesn't make me seem like some kind of cave woman who grunts and stomps my feet whenever I feel hungry. Tonight when I ordered my takeaway rice (the same oily rice that ruined my dress!), I said, "Iki pilav paket. Lütfen." This may sound like Tarzan Turkish, but I got my point across and it was better than last week's humorous attempt to order a piece of cake. "Merhaba. Muz pasta," I said hesitantly. I held up one finger, hoping the man would serve me one slice and not an entire cake. I don't even think I said please.

I'm still trying to learn how much staring is permissible from strangers. Before I moved here, I unsuccessfully tried to dye my hair dark brown in an attempt to blend in with the Turkish population and be incognito. The dye washed out, but I have a feeling even if I were brunette, people would still recognize me as foreign. My Turkish friend Seda told me it's mainly because I smile at strangers. I'd consider this some kind of personal defect, like my messy eating habits, except that I am proud of my tendency to smile at people. The trick is to be careful whom you smile at.

On the ferry going to the Prince Islands, Seda and I were standing around speaking English and all of a sudden we were surrounded by leering men. I thought to myself, "Is this the good kind of staring?" But the lecherous looks on their faces told me these were not the same as the curious stares I get when I try to order a piece of cake. My solution was to talk loudly about how I feel VERY UNCOMFORTABLE when men stare at me. They apparently understood enough English to take a hint and slink away to another part of the crowded ferry.

There is so much to learn about living in a new city. Maybe I'll start making dresses out of oilcloth, a fabric typically used to dress up picnic tables, not people. It won't help me at all in fitting in, but at least it won't ruin my clothes when olive oil from my Mediterranean meals drips down my front.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Over the Garden Wall

My accelerated running goals have coincided with my latest addiction to the Cartoon Network miniseries, Over the Garden Wall. I managed both to go running and to finish watching the series today, but it took every ounce of will power to pry myself from the couch. I set a very ambitious goal the other day, a goal which does not complement my personality of cartoon-watching, köfte-eating couch potato. My goal is to run the Alexander the Great Marathon in April. The race is in Thessaloniki, the birthplace of both Ataturk and Alexander the Great. While trying to motivate myself to be athletic by imagining myself in the sandals of Alexander the Great, all I could think about was how sad it was that Alexander the Great lived in a time before cartoons.

Everything about Over the Garden Wall is old-fashioned, the 1930's style of the drawings, the Americana music, even the morals and deeper meanings, which seemed to carry a religious tone. Gregory, a sweet innocent boy, is a foil to his adolescent brother, Wirt. They are lost in a purgatory-type landscape known as The Unknown and they must find their way back home with plenty of hard-learned lessons along the way. Gregory seems to have Jesus's saying down pat that "Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Everything, of course, is up to interpretation, and another viewer might take away something completely different. Whatever message you take away, it's still a masterpiece of animation. Now that I've finished all ten episodes, I can take my running a bit more seriously.

Thessaloniki, here I come!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Old Photos

I discovered these old photos in the bowels 
of a 19th-century bank in Istanbul’s financial district while wandering up and down old wooden staircases and into enormous bank vaults. These riches were part of an exhibit about the history of the Ottoman Bank at the Salt Galata Museum. I took great interest in all the old money, but by far, my favorite part of the exhibit was the collection of employee photos.

I love the variety of costumes, the masculine and feminine poses, the usage of props such as fezzes, gloves, swords, and canes, and seeing the names scrolled on the backs of the photos. The curtain backdrops added charming tackiness to some of them. I tried to guess the nationality of each person based on their names and appearances. There were Greeks, French, Italians, English, Turks, and Arabs, as far as I could tell. I just wish I could see a fascinating assortment of characters like this at my bank. That would make standing in line a lot more bearable. 

I spent maybe an hour flipping through binders of these photos, snapping pictures of the ones that I found particularly appealing. I love using old photos as aides in my writing and drawing, so stumbling across this bank vault gallery was for me like hitting the jackpot. I tried to crop each one to reduce the glare from the plastic sheet protectors. I hope people who visit my blog find these photos as interesting as I do. 

Carl Sagan once wrote, “One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.” To gaze at old photographs is another way to voyage through time.   

Sunday, September 6, 2015

I love you more today than yesterday

I decided this catchy, invigorating tune from the 1960's perfectly expresses my love for Istanbul. I really do find that every day I am more and more enamored of my new home. My weekend was full of exploration, art museums, and fun times with friends. My Turkish friend Seda stayed with me and brought with her a chocolate cake and a box of Turkish delight. Turks are generous and thoughtful, qualities I appreciate and admire.


Inside the Haydarpaşa train station in Kadikoy. There is some controversy over turning this historic building, which is currently open to the public, into a fancy hotel. 
My friend Rachel gazing at the lovely Kiz Kulesi, or Maiden's Tower, in Uskudar. 
A memorial for Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old boy who was hit in the head with a teargas canister while he was out buying bread for his family in June, 2013. Someone, maybe the baker in this statue, is still out looking for him. This statue reminds me of Mister Gepetto looking for lost Pinocchio. 

Turkish tatterdemalion crosses the street with a gaggle of geese. 
Art at the Istanbul Modern.
Spying on classy people dining at Cicek Pasaji.