Monthly Archives: July 2012

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                                          Photo Credit: The Guardian 

While it is accurate to report that it is the first day of Ramadan, it is important to note that the festivities began at 2:30 AM in our neighborhood. We awoke to the sound of a loud drum below us as a Ramadan drummer attempted to alert the practicing Muslims in the neighborhood that it was time to wake-up.  Dating back to Ottoman times, a ceremonious drummer was designated in each neighborhood to ensure everyone woke up in time to prepare their last meal before their fasting must begin. In some neighborhoods they ring door bells, others simply use a drum with occasional chants and songs to accompany the announcement that there is only a little time left to prepare and enjoy a meal before sunrise.

The sunrise occurred at 5:45 this morning, and the sun will not set until 8:30 PM. From sunrise to sunset, a period of more than 14 hours, people will refrain from anything passing through their lips. This means they will not eat food, drink water, or even use chewing gum and cigarettes.  By making these sacrifices in the next 30 days, many people hope to examine their lives and renew their commitment to the tenants  and values of Islam. I have infinite respect towards anyone attempting to fast this Ramadan and hope everyone has a safe and rejuvenating fast.

The First Day of Ramadan

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It is hot in Istanbul. You cannot move without sweat slowly gathering on every inch of your skin. Many Istanbullians escape to the south of Turkey whenever possible. Those that cannot leave Istanbul search for escapes. My favorite? Ada Beach Club on Heybeliada. While a little pricey (35 lira), a day at Ada Beach Club offers the same experience found along the shores of Bodrum. Once admitted you have your pick of chairs, lounges and cabannas. The crystal clear water awaits you and instantly cools you down. There is a cafe that offers snacks and beer to be enjoyed as  you lounge by the water. And, one of my favorite parts? There is a special boat provided by the beach club that takes you to this hidden cove from the main promenade of Heybliada. If you miss the water shuttle, you can always take a horse-drawn carriage.  With transportation options like this, it is easy to feel the enchantment of this place. At the end of the day, the club’s water shuttle whisks people away to ensure they catch the last ferries off the island. It is a perfect way to spend a hot day in Istanbul.

Read the rest of this entry

A Summer Haven only a Ferry Ride Away…

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It has been three years since I first moved to Istanbul, and during this time Istanbul has become my home. In the most surprising and silly of ways I have adopted numerous Turkish traits, here are some of them:

1.) I will not enter a house with my shoes on

2.) I have no restraint when my phone rings during a meal… I must answer it.

3.) Everything can be improved with more olive oil, salt, paprika flakes or thyme.

4.) Plans can change en route, and I am ok with that.

5.) I have accepted that work schedules are unpredictable beasts. This includes late evenings and weekends. Read the rest of this entry

Turkish Traits of my Own

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After the wedding, we ran away to Bodrum, which is quite possibly one of my favorite places in the world. White houses line the hillsides. Vibrant purple and pink bourgainvillea flow with the wind. Restaurants unfold on to the beach. The tangerine orange moon lights up the  night sky. Sailboats and yachts cover the water  and music fills the air. Each morning we awake to a huge Turkish Breakfast, full of lively chatter and numerous rounds of tea. By 1 pm, we were in a car off to a new seaside village to explore and beach to indulge upon. Our days were full of swimming, ice cream, reading, kayaking and relaxation. It was perfect.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have simply seek with our eyes open.”–Jawaharial Nehru

Bodrum State-of-Mind

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It has been over a month since wedding madness overtook my life and sent me into a flurry of activity. Over the past month I have played the role of tour guide, host, florist, chef, wedding planner, friend and bride. I have welcomed new and old friends, marveled in the union of my two families and celebrated my wedding  sailing along the Bosphorus. Here is the first flurry of images from the wedding…

                   Photoshoot Location: The backstreets of Arnavutköy

Hotel: Villa Denise Hotel, Arnavutköy

Wedding Site: Gümüş Damla Yatı, Kuruçeşme

Photographer: Brother of the Bride

Some stories:

1.) I started the day with a bird pooping on my head…which has never happened before in my life, and represents good luck in Turkey. Usually people are advised to buy a lottery ticket after the event, I got married…perhaps the same thing?!

2.) My hair was transformed in ways I did not think was possible

3.) I LOVED my dress. My mom made the sash and the veil. It was perfect.

4.) We did a photo-shoot with our photographer on the backstreets of a small seaside neighborhood  It was so fun to wander the backstreets with our wedding party. Bridesmaids and groomsmen do not exist in Turkey, so we were a spectacle  People stopped us to take our picture. One mother wanted a photo with her son and my bridesmaids. It was so funny.

5.) I had both my parents walk me down the aisle. The DJ played the most bizarre version of ‘Here Comes the Bride’ that I have ever heard in my life, and the Turks were so confused by the rice-throwing tradition that I was bombarded with rice after 3 steps down the aisle,…before the ceremony even began

6.) It was so incredible to see the generosity, love and warmth which welcomed me into this family. It was really humbling and amazing.

7.) My brother was the life of the party.  He got everyone to dance (including Caglayan’s grandmother and coworkers) and danced the whole night with a bottle of wine in his hands

8. )My dad gave a speech during the ceremony and included a Turkish quote. People cheered. It was adorable.

9.)When we exchanged our vows and the rings, all I saw was Caglayan. It felt like the world stopped.

10.) Our party favors were a box of M&Ms with our faces on them. It was hilarious!

 11.) I danced like a madwoman as the traditional Turkish wedding line wrapped itself around us. By the end of the night I was barefoot and my dress was covered with wine. success!

My Istanbul Wedding