Tag Archives: apartment life

Happy Thanksgiving!

Standard

This year was my fifth Thanksgiving away from home. While it breaks my heart to away from the established traditions, lively discussions, delicious food and my wonderful friends and family, I am delighted by the wonderful new and established traditions that shape my own celebration!

My friend and I befriended a Turkish man with a New York accent on the bus, while we were returning from the Sabanci Museum yesterday. He was a Business professor at the esteemed Bogazaci University and lived in the United States for many years, while teaching at Temple University. We started by talking about Seattle and the Bosphorus, but after leaving the bus, our interaction continued with one final conversation. He reemerged from the crowd to wish us a happy Thanksgiving. In fact, he was off to celebrate with his Turkish American friends!

He inspired us. His enthusiasm for American life and Thanksgiving was surprising, but also endearing. Originally, I was saving all of my energy for our established weekend extravaganza with friends (we always reschedule Thanksgiving festivities to ensure we get the whole weekend to celebrate and prepare), but we decided to have a Thanksgiving dinner of our own last night as well. Now, keep in mind we came to this decision at 6 PM last night…so we did not have much time.

How do you prepare for Thanksgiving dinner in 2 hours? Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements
Quote

Every two or three weeks, we make our way across the city to Caglayan’s mom’s apartment for a special breakfast. The table is full of treats of every flavor and origin. There are numerous options covering the table.  Every type of breakfast pastry, homemade jams, special cheeses, fruit and nuts, a constant flow of tea and lively conversation. We have been gathering more frequently with his parents and grandmother to plan the wedding and discuss the details of the event. Our last mission: to introduce a western-style ceremony. It did not go well. The YouTube video selection is somewhat limited. I found Kate and Will’s wedding video, but obviously our wedding will be nothing like the royal wedding of the century. I am still searching. However, the opportunity to bond and laugh on a Sunday morning is always a treat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Family Breakfast

A Perfect Sunday

Standard

We spent the day with my friend Neslihan and her husband, Emre. They spoiled us with a beautiful Turkish breakfast, consisting of 5 types of cheeses, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, an assortment of fruits and nuts, homemade jam, honey, nutella and omelettes. There was a constant flow of tea, and no shortage of humorous and interesting conversation. We spent two hours talking and savoring this breakfast feast. Afterwards, Neslihan hosted a special Turkish coffee lesson for Caglayan and I to perfect our skills. Following one indulgence after another, we walked along the Bosphorus road, took in the sunshine and discovered an outdoor cafe hanging over the water.  We sipped chai at the Bosphorus Cafe as boats passed at every speed and direction, chickens wandered by our feet and people  marvelled at this special, allbeit bizarre cafe and its incredible location. It was a fun and relaxing Sunday in Istanbul…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Quote

Turkish tea (chai) is served frequently throughout the day. We sip on tea during breaks at work, during long breakfasts and at the end of dinner feasts. There are ‘chai gardens’ throughout the city, and numerous warm cafes to sit, sip chai, play games and smoke hookah. The Turkish tea glass is unique and dignified. Every household (including our apartment) has a set of at least 6 Turkish tea glasses that can be ready at a moments notice to offer any guest. The Turkish tea glass is small. Some say it is shaped like a tulip, others declare it is the silhouette of a woman’s body. Either way, a steamy glass of chai can be held at the tip and enjoyed amidst any social setting, and after every meal.

Recently, Pasabahce, a Turkish glassware company released a commercial highlighting the diverse designs and models of the Turkish tea glass. The music and the images linger in my mind. As a result, I thought it would be the perfect introduction to Turkish chai. The commercial is titled ‘Çaya Şeklini Biz Verdik’, which claims ‘We gave you the shape of the Chai glass”. Whether it is true or not, the company is the largest produces of the chai glasses and certainly an innovator in contemporary design. 

Enjoy!

Turkish Tea Glasses

A Walk Through My Old Neighborhood…

Standard

Our first neighborhood flourished in the shadows of the Istanbul’s Trump Towers. It remained relatively untouched from the business district that developed around it. The neighborhood is called Gulbag  (pronounced Gool-bah). Its residents vary from families and university students, to recent African refugees.  There are two large mosques and two public schools in this small neighborhood. On week days you can hear the school bells throughout the day (the same tune of the ice cream truck from my childhood). Five times a day, the mosques in the area would broadcast their call to prayer, a few seconds before or after the others in the neighborhood.

 I was the first foreigner many of the store owners had ever met, and often was the first person they had ever heard speak their own native tongue. I developed relationships with my favorite vendors in the neighborhood by dispensing daily greetings and pleasantries. One shopkeeper would always give me small treats when he ran into me at the end of a long day. It was in these exchanges where I practiced and developed my Turkish, and began to feel a part of the community where I resided. In the 15 minute walk that led to the metro from our apartment, we would walk through the three bustling commercial streets. On these three streets, anything and everything could be found at some of the cheapest prices in Istanbul.

We observed a lot of development in the neighborhood during the two years that we lived there. New modern apartments were built, an office building opened, a park was renovated and the roads were widened. The face of Gulbag changed during this time, and will probably continue to do so as the city develops around it. These are some of the first pictures that I took in the neighborhood in October 2009 in my effort to capture the Gulbag we knew as home.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Accordion Player Returns…

Standard

He came again this Sunday. He was accompanied by his wife and child. As he walked past our apartment building, we made eye contact with him, and exchanged a series of waves and informal hellos. We used this opportunity to initiate our special basket, and provide our collective change (roughly 4.75 lira) to our favorite neighborhood accordion player. This basket is a neccessity to any apartment that looks out at the street, and has a daunting amount of stairs (we have 112 to be exact). It is very simple: it is a basket with a long rope tied to its handle. The rope is slowly released until the basket reaches street level. In exchange for our efforts (and creative albeit lazy delivery), he performed for us, and I captured it on video. Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.