Letters from Istanbul (A Series)

You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen – Paulo Coelho

letters from istanbul

Dancing men, kebab, coffee, Orphan Pamuk, the Ottomans, the bridge between east and west -known for a lot of things, Istanbul is most famous now for the Gezi Park protests over the recent summer.  Being here now, it seems more like the ghost of Taksim than a long-lasting feeling of change and revolution.  The cold carried summer away, students went back to school, people went back to work and there is a sort of stigma against talking about the ‘G’- word now.  Even catching up with friends at late night cafes, my Turkish is adept enough to hear voices in the background, mocking the subject of Gezi, that people will ‘not let it go’.

What we see in the media is not always to clear-cut on the ground.  If anything is conclusive, it will take more research into the how and why to even start to describe Turkey from the American perspective.  Like many things learned from the years with the Office of Intercultural Affairs, people are dynamic and much more than the singing-dancing-food stereotype we come to expect as tourists.  What really ticks at the pace we set ourselves?  It is more likely to find the unexpected and look at things from a complex perspective.

This series on Istanbul is a large part in respect and admiration to friends I have met along the way and people who helped me navigate the wonderfully unexpected things I hoped to find.  Talking about politics, religion, culture and globalization is rarely easy we always hold some of themselves in the places they have been and especially, the places we grew up.  As somebody from outside, I rarely ask the right questions the first time around- but I think it reveals a more valuable, natural tendency of people for patience and tolerance.  They have also changed my perspective on a lot of things and made me more conscious of my own particular habits- both the ones that are not likely to change and the ones that might make me a better person.

Please keep reading for more of what people have to say about Gezi Park, culture, politics, protest, and more throughout the week!


-Bridget Healy


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