People’s Republic of Taksim

The Gezi Park was packed, and it looked like a carnival. There were street vendors selling all sorts of food, guitar players with cigarettes in their mouths with the ash almost falling onto their laps, people dancing the halay, voracious readers reading in dim light, a tattoo maker with a sign that said, “Ataturk’s signature tattooed with henna”, more people dancing the halay, people singing songs by Zulfu Livaneli (a popular leftwing singer from the 90’s), people sleeping to get prepared for the long night, occupiers on cleaning duty going around with huge trash bags, a lot of people taking photos and even more people dancing the halay. Continue reading People’s Republic of Taksim

The Teargas Revolution

I can see a growing interest from the rest of the world regarding the anti government (i.e. anti Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan) demonstrations in Turkey. But the real perplexing thing for us Turks is that the demonstrations have mobilised a previously numb and apolitical fraction of the society. Continue reading The Teargas Revolution

Istanbul Underground

As we spoke, we walked into a parking lot used by the tourist buses that shuttle tourists in and out of the ancient peninsula. Here were were greeted by a strange parking lot keeper who claimed that he was a nutcase and that was the only way he could stand his job which he detested. Ignoring his remarks that he would charge us a lot more next time we came, we walked into the dusty parking lot towards a hole in the ground hidden behind some parked vehicles. Continue reading Istanbul Underground

Shalimar The Clown, Salman Rushdie

As we reached the end, satisfied, having sated our (intellectual and culinary) hunger, I felt a little uneasy because the whole night we had been discussing India and Pakistan and on the next table were an expat couple (their timidity signaling a preliminary stage of their dating) one American born Indian (an ABCD) the other asian/oriental. If they end up reading this post I’d like to apologise to them, but they can rest assured that we had the best intentions in the world. And I do not mean it as in the proverb which seems to sum up one of the morals of Shalimar The Clown, “the road to hell is paved with the cobblestones of best intentions”. Continue reading Shalimar The Clown, Salman Rushdie

Bombay and Istanbul

Eminönü has been the shopping district of Istanbul since the Byzantine times which makes it the busiest part of the city for the last 1500 years. My father and I would start in the Mısır Çarşısı (The Spice Market) and look at the birds, dogs and cats, fish, spices and teas, monkeys, cheese and sausages, hamsters, dried fruit and nuts. We’d have lunch in Pandeli which brings back images of aubergine and tender meat, and elderly waiters with pristine white shirts. And finally we’d walk up the street towards Suleymaniye, the most magnificent of the mosques in the city. I remember my father buying me toys and trinkets from the little shops in tiny and crowded streets: balloons, Chinese toys made from cheap plastic, a small radio, a green ring connected to a small rubber ball hidden in the palm used to spray water to the face of the unsuspecting onlookers. Continue reading Bombay and Istanbul

Gospel According to Jesus Christ (İsa’ya Göre İncil), Jose Saramago

It was not totally Saramago’s fault. Our timing was terrible. 43% of the book club members were depressed because of the financial crisis that began to shake the capitalist world. (Ironically, Saramago could have been feeling some schadenfreude at the same time.) 29% of the members had tardy arrivals because their business meetings ended very late, a bit unusual for a Ramadan day. Continue reading Gospel According to Jesus Christ (İsa’ya Göre İncil), Jose Saramago

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon

This is problem with slang, especially old (80’s) slang like this, the minute you step out of the relevant circles you begin missing out on the experience and it becomes difficult to distinguish the passé from the hip. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (TMOP), the coming of age story of Art Bechstein is set in an era that is clearly defined by flamboyant details like knitted ties, white blazers, spandex and loop earrings. It also happens to be an era I could – however I would rather not – remember in the context of my teenage years. Continue reading The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon

Literature Meme, Midnight’s Children

I discovered Midnight’s Children in a bookstore in Mumbai eight and a half years ago and was more than pleasantly surprised as soon as I began reading it on the train from Agra to Delhi. Back then, my knowledge of Rushdie was limited to the controversy after the fatwa and I must say I am quite angry with the whole cacophony that has shrouded the beauty of his writing. Continue reading Literature Meme, Midnight’s Children


Studying architecture during the summer of ’92 made him an engineer. His dislike for the Introduction to Operations Research course, his indifference for car engines, and his thoughts about the unsightliness of the Civil Engineering building made him a Materials Scientist. Continue reading (auto)biography