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Letters from Istanbul

from the writings of James Tressler.

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: 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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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: 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: 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...

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: 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...

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: 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...

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,...

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: 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,...

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...

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...

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....

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