The First Snow …

This morning when I woke up, we had the first snow falling from Istanbul’s sky this season. After a summery autumn, now finally, and very suddenly, winter has arrived. The temperatures are down to 5 degrees but sadly it is not cold enough to cover Istanbul with a white layer. However, I am sure we will be able to experience this sensation very soon. So exciting!

It is quite an interesting experience to hear the Imams singing from the mosques to call for the prayers and at the same time seeing snow falling and people wrapped up in their big, puffy jackets. But that’s Istanbul for you – a city that always surprises!

This week was quite quiet for me. I caught a cold over the weekend which kept me at home for a few days. So, I slept a lot and had time to read and watch films and just think and reflect for a bit. It is by now already 7 weeks ago since I made my way to Istanbul…

Two books, which friends of mine sent me, I read with great pleasure. There is Moris Farhi‘s novel ‘Young Turk‘ and Nicholas Woodsworth’s travel book ‘The Liquid Continent – A Mediterranean Trilogy: Istanbul’.

In Young Turk, Farhi brings together 13 short stories to tell a powerful history of Turkey just before, during, and after World War II. It is also an erotic tale of love, courage and the forging of conscience.

read more on Farih’s Wikipedea side: “On the eve of war, people still believe in a Turkish culture that can accommodate any number of races and religions. But Hitler’s march through Europe makes this an increasingly dicey proposition for the nation’s Jews and the Turks who wish to stand by them. As Turkey begins to unravel, a cross-section of young Turks race toward adulthood in an increasingly polarized world, each in turn telling a piece of the country’s beautiful and savage tapestry. In the luminous “Lentils in Paradise,” two young boys find honest delight in the pleasures of the body, but soon discover that they can’t be children forever after what they discover in the women’s bathhouse. In “A Tale of Two Cities,” a group of foolhardy teens embark on a plan to save their friend’s relatives from persecution in Greece. The story is imbued with the tragedy of a doomed mission. Its honesty captures the ephemeral, sensual and often brutal process of becoming an adult as the book’s haunting tone walks the line between a novel of ideas and an extended coming of age story. Against the backdrop of Nazism, in a multi-racial Turkey giving sanctuary to many of Europe’s fleeing Jews, a group of teenage friends struggles to understand events while reeling from (and relishing) the sexual and emotional discoveries of adolescence.”

Nicholas Woodsworth was travelling in Turkey more recently and created a wonderful account of life, people and habits here in Istanbul. His travels take him first on a curious route, stopping in the Italian port of Ancona, from there embarking on a long side excursion to Albania, where he visits the capital city of Tirana and the port of Durres. He also stops in Gallipoli, where he learns and passes along several depressing facts about the extremely bloody World War I battle that took place there. Woodsworth arrives in Istanbul and visits the usual tourist attractions, like the Aya Sofya and the Galata Tower. A friend of his wife works for a French school near Galata Tower and arranges for him to stay there. For obvious reasons, the city prompts him to ponder its transformation from Constantinople, a great Byzantine city and later the center of the Ottoman Empire to Istanbul as we see it now. He gives his slightly one-sided explanation for the rise and fall of that empire. The final to his book is a wonderful description of going out fishing with three cronies he meets at the Beyoğlu Municipal Research Centre.

for more, click herehttp://www.amazon.com/Liquid-Continent-Armchair-Traveller/dp/1905791585

One of the films I watched and would love to share was Beş Vakit by Reha Erdem. The English title is Times and Winds. It is a film about growing up in a Turkish village. The clash of generations, believes, traditions … And most beautifully shot and underlaid with the most sensual music. A treat for all the senses and a stimulation for the mind!

for trailer, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSH9Fj8qvIs&feature=related

On Thursday, an opening of Paul Kasmin’s new exhibition space in Istanbul was celebrated with the arrival of his New York exhibition of photographs by David LaChapelle.

Paul Kasmin's gallery space opposite W Hotel in Istanbul

And tonight I have been invited by friends to a formal (!) pre-Christmas dinner party. Guess the old suit and tie have to come out again …

And so it continues …

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