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Letters from Istanbul

from the writings of James Tressler.

City Scherzos: Istanbul’s Absurdist Heart

The other evening, my wife and I were out in our neighborhood of Koşuyolu feeding the cats as is our evening ritual. While we were...

Out Now: “Letters from Istanbul, Vol 3: Living with Terror” by...

We're delighted to announce that long-time contributor James Tressler has recently released the third volume to his Letters from Istanbul series, available for purchase via Lulu....

House-Hunting in the Age of Terror

My wife wants to buy an apartment. That’s a pretty common goal for many people in this city, since it’s a sound investment. The...

City Scherzos: Lahmacuns in the Sky

Ali was a 27-year-old Kurd from the eastern Turkish city of Van. He and his brothers had come to Istanbul nearly a decade before...

A Strange Fast

With the start of the holy month of Ramazan this past week,  many Turks have been fasting and praying. It’s not easy, especially  in...

Beating the Istanblues: A Night at the Spa

My wife Özge and I can’t afford many luxuries. We’re a working couple, with different schedules. We don’t even share the same days off. We...

Letters from Istanbul: In Search of the ‘Real’ English

On the way to work the other morning, the taxi driver, noticing I was a yabancı, asked the usual, inevitable question. “America,” I answered. “Amerika?” the driver...

Letter from Karaman: Night of the Dervish

The city of Karaman stands on the low wheat plains of Anatolia, about an hour south of Konya, the birthplace of Rumi. Arriving from Istanbul,...

Construction Fever: Will It Save Us from the Next Big One?

Bağdat Caddesi is a long, wide shopping avenue on the Asian side of the city, Istanbul’s equivalent of 5th Avenue or Rodeo Drive. Nearby are...

City Scherzos: Mother-of-Pearl

We were getting married. We couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable. We didn’t consider ourselves the marrying type. We were too lazy to get...

On the Road to Gebze: Surviving in the Industrial Heartland

On the road to Gebze, where I teach twice a week, I have a lot of time to contemplate the passing landscape. Out on the...

Letters from Istanbul: Yeldeğirmeni’s Quiet Renaissance

Author’s note: Last week, I wrote about the stories behind some of Istanbul’s street names, and the week before that I traced some of...

Songs for an Unfinished City (An Istanbullu’s Listening Guide)

Every great city has its own soundtrack, or at least, deserves one. If it doesn’t, you should think about moving somewhere else. I think of...

Confused Letters from Istanbul: Rude Sheiks and Mad Rams — A...

It is almost a cliché to say that behind every name in Istanbul there is a story; nevertheless, the saying is true. For instance, I...

My Dinner With Gökhan

A friend of mine, whom I’ll call Gökhan, loves eating. It is one of his great passions in life. As the son of an...

Letters from Istanbul: City of the Blind (Or, Why You Shouldn’t...

I live in Kadıköy, the “city of the blind.” Have you heard this one? Well, in ancient times, the first Greeks who arrived from Megara set...

The Rise and Fall of a Telecommuting Empire in Istanbul

Traffic is a daily grind for some 14 million Istanbullus. That’s not even counting the outskirts, which include several million more. You get used to...

Letters from Istanbul: The Anatolian Way

As a yabancı, you probably have your own first impressions of the city. One of my own was made while coming from Ataturk International Airport...

City Scherzos: Bukowski in Sultanahmet (and Other Ghosts of Teachers Past)

I’ve been a teacher for the past ten years, first in Prague and now in Istanbul. Over the years, you get used to seeing...

Letters from Istanbul: Surrogate Lives

They were three sisters and they had all grown up together in a small town in the south of Turkey. The oldest, and the...

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