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Letters from Istanbul

from the writings of James Tressler.

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...

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...

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...

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...

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: 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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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