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Letters from Istanbul

from the writings of James Tressler.

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...

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...

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...

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...

City Scherzos: Chopin in Koşuyolu

Some time back, I decided to try a new approach to my Istanbul stories. Up until that point, the stories, though carefully written, were missing...

When the Night Comes Falling

All day long, in fits and waves, there had been blackouts. And not just in one part of Istanbul, but across the whole vast...

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...

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...

Yabancı Abroad: When in Rome…Levitate

When we got off the bus at Rome’s Termini Stazion, the first thing we saw was an Istanbul Kebab Shop. My girlfriend Ozge laughed at...

Letters from Istanbul: Avenues & Interludes

One Saturday afternoon in the autumn of 2012, I was walking around Beyoğlu. I don’t spend much time on the European side of Istanbul,...

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...

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....

Letters from Istanbul: The Sum of Our Travels

The other day I was having lunch at Café Nero with one of the new teachers. She said she came from Austin. Since I grew...

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: This Matter of Medusa

You may have read in the Turkish news recently that archaeologists in Antalya found the head of Medusa … in stone. The archaeologists told reporters...

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,...

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...

Ataşehir and Ümraniye: Portraits of the City’s ‘New Hope’

At first glance, Ataşehir seems to embody everything you hate about modern Istanbul. At second glance, it doesn’t get much better. You can insert here...

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...

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...

Letters from Istanbul: The Journey of a Tissue Pack

In the city of Istanbul many poor old women sell packets of tissue in the streets, mostly to passing motorists and the people sitting...

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