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Istanbul: the European side

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

When I visited Michael and Kira in May, we were all staying in Kodikoy (Kadıköye), on the Asian side of Istanbul. This time, I am staying in Fatih, on the European side. The Bosporus Straight separates the two sides... one city, with two sides, each on a different continent. It's intriguing, this history of Istanbul, Turkey.


Here, I have gotten into the funky habit of staying up late into the wee hours of the next day. Then I sleep through the morning. I believe this sleep reversal started in Kodikoy. Michael stayed up late through the night (to stay connected to and keep working with his friends in the states) and Kira's normal sleep pattern included long hours of sleeping. She regularly woke up at maybe 13:00, 14:00. I'm using the 24-hour clock because I need to get used to this way of referring to time. I have been feeling like a dumbed-down American only knowing the 12-hour clock. So, yeah, in May, while visiting the kids in Istanbul, no matter what time Kira fell to sleep, I could count on a good morning text from her around 1 or 2 pm.


In Kodikoy, we ate breakfast at about 15:00 (3 pm). We ate dinner at about 21:00, 22:00 (9, 10 pm). Here, I seem to have adopted the same pattern.


This week in Fatih ("this week," at this point, being Sunday night to Thursday 12:00), I stayed up until 04:00 (4 am) on at least two occasions. That's two nights out of four that I stayed awake until the wee hours of the next day and missed the morning. And the other two nights, I stayed up until at least 24:00 (midnight) or 02:00 (2 am).


As I am writing, I am hearing a seagull-sound that I had not listed in my previous post about the many weird and wonderful dialects of Seagulls. What I'm hearing I've heard before, while in Kodikoy in May. I had forgotten this memory until now. Maybe this seagull knew, intuitively or telepathically, that I was writing about my experiences in Kodikoy in May. Maybe he was there, then, too. Maybe he wanted me to remember this uniquely varied speech pattern of seagulls, in addition to Kodikoy memories of sleeping and eating patterns. He is correct, this sound is worth remembering and worth writing about. My friend, I am sorry to interrupt your reading of this regularly scheduled "new" blog post, to bring you this: Seagulls can also sound like a car alarm.


And now, back to your regularly scheduled "new" blog post.


"What are you doing, Ami," you may ask, "that's keeping you awake into the wee hours of the next day?" Well, my friend, I have been staying true to my word. I said I would bring you with me, and am writing posts that hopefully let you know that. I hope that my blog posts make you feel like you could be here. I hope they have been easy to read and entertaining. Like anything that looks natural, though, it takes time to polish the rough edges. One post can take me 10 hours to write.


And I have been paying bills.


Yesterday was November 1. The first of the month is when rent is due. I have a housemate and tenant back in Brattleboro who both pay rent the first of each month. I oversee my grandchild's finances, including their monthly rent payment, due (you guessed it) the first of each month. I use Venmo for rent payments (both the incoming and the outgoing). I learned last minute (yesterday-ish) that I cannot use Venmo while I'm out of the (US) country. So, what to do, aye?


Zen-Ami says: There is no problem that can not be solved. There is always a solution. One needs to step outside of seeing a thing as a problem to find the solution.


Zen-Ami is correct. And there's also this...


Real-world-Ami says: If there is a solution to a problem, and you keep looking for it, you will most likely find it, in the long run.


In-the-long-run means you may need to wait for people, who are halfway around the world, functioning in a time zone that is 7-hours earlier than yours, to get back to you. In-the-long-run means that the initial solution (or two, or three, or more...) that you came up with doesn't necessarily work.


Zen-Ami says: There's trial and error involved in finding a solution.


Zen-Ami is again correct.


Real-world-Ami continues that: When you do find a solution, in-the-long-run may mean that it will take time to implement the solution. For example... in order to set up an online banking system that allows you (me) to transfer money from your (my) Grandchild's SS account that you are (I am) in charge of... to the bank account of your (my) Grandchild's (live-in) Care Provider... the following needs to happen. Two random small deposits are automatically sent from your (my) account to his (the care provider's) account by your (my) bank, and then you (both of us) have to wait 1-3 business days for the two small deposits to show up in his (the care provider's) account. At which time he (the care provider) must get back to you (me) to tell you (again, me) the exact amounts of the deposits. At which time you (I) must plug those numbers into your (my) online banking transfer system. At which time your (my) bank will (hopefully) approve the process of us (me and the care provider) having the freedom to make transfers (from my account to his). At which time (hopefully, finally) you (I) can transfer the rent money (for my Grandchild's share of the rent) into his (the care provider's) bank account, so that (oh no, we are not done yet)... He (the care provider) can then purchase a money order from his bank, put it in an envelope, address and stamp the envelope, and send it (the money order) to their (the care provider's and you Grandchild's) landlord. It's a process. And this process, sometimes, can feel a bit like a long run.


When one (we're talking about me here) finally goes to sleep and then (finally) wakes up, what does one (again, this is about me) do with a 10-hour-day on the European side of Istanbul, Turkey? A picture tells a thousand stories, right? Here, let me show you...


While the European side of Istanbul is known for tourism, some days it seems there are more signs of Turkish pride than tourists. When I arrived, on Sunday, it was the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey.

When I was in Kodikoy in May, a major national election was about to happen. Just like then, I was noticing Turkish flags and pictures of the first president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk everywhere in Fatih.


National pride looks the same everywhere in Istanbul, on both the Asian and European sides. What makes the sameness feel unique is that the land and buildings, stores and people, are categorized by neighborhoods. When you stick to your neighborhood to shop and eat and mingle, life here feels more homey. These are some pictures from my 'hood...


Here, the lifestyle feels calm and sweet...

...and if you zoom in and look more closely, there's even more sweetness...


(look closer)...


One day, I wandered out of my 'hood, while looking for new digs. While walking about, I saw signs like the one below at quite a few restaurants. It tickled me to consider that in the States people want "fast food" but here...

Everywhere, it seems, even back in my hood, slow food rules. My neighborhood is known as Balat. Back when I was in Fatih for one-night, on my way to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, I ate dinner at "Old Balat" restaurant, directly next to "New Balat" restaurant. My first meal in the hood during this stay was at a restaurant called Balat Restaurant. That's it. One does not need to be creative when offering food in the hood...

A breakfast favorite: Menemen...
...and Cappuccino

For dinner, I tried the sizzling hot Turkish stew with beef...


It was not my favorite choice. You don't love it? No problem. There were so many choices and so many places to eat and drink...


...each with its own personality...

...its own style...

...its own message...

...its own allure...



Stuffed clams with lemon wedges

Each restaurant with its own people...

The red rain awning above had been installed that morning. These guys felt it came out too far. They moved to different spots, looking, contemplating, talking, arguing, laughing.

There was street art and self-expression...


...and, cats...



There was crazy driving...

...and hard working people...

...and children hanging out...

...and five times a day, when the Call to Prayer happened, there were signs of devotion. Here, a construction worker stops to pray...


As I mentioned earlier, one day this week, I went on walk-about. Far from my neighborhood, here, encased in glass, was an artist's depiction of Muslim prayer in Turkey. Interesting fact I just learned: the Call to Prayer timings vary from one city to another due to the position of the sun.


There was time at "home..."

Yukari doing her thing at the "kitchen" table

... and the call of our "hotel" rooftop...


Oh, by the way, I will be moving to new digs tomorrow (still in Fatih). More shall be revealed...

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