Saturday, 31 October 2015

My Girl

My Three-Paw is in hospital and I am not with her. Anyone reading this blog and who thinks -'she's only a cat' can stop reading now and never come back. She is my girl. She is my family. And nothing feels more terrible than being in another country, unable to comfort her or really see what is going on.
I feel as if everything about this move I have made has been ill-fated. From losing 1300 euro in a rental scam to feeling such intense loneliness ever since arriving and for not having my girls with me because the stupid place I am staying won't let me. Every day I go out trying to find a home to bring my girls to and what if it all ends up too late for Three Paw. The last time I saw her she sat next to me purring and rested her paw on my thigh just as she did all those times back on the streets. Before she moved in. Before we were bonded. But I think perhaps we have always been bonded. I hope tonight she can sense our bond and know that there is nothing I want more than to bring her home to me...and see her ..and listen to her...and be loved the way she loves me...and I her.

Be strong my beautiful girl... I am finding you a home with a garden...come and see it won't you. Come and lay in the sun with me again.

One thing I do know is that she has a whole team of peeps behind her, championing her all the way. That's the kind of girl she is.

Thanks be to Kerim ( her daddy), Ozge, Fatih, Ezgi  (her team of vets) and above all Nathalie ( her mama on the ground) for every breath they take or have taken to love and help her.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Election Day looming

It probably sounds kind of sad but I don't have any energy to write about where I am right now. I feel like my head and my heart and, hell, even one of my feet is still in Istanbul. Perhaps if I could only click my heels together I could fly back home. My friend (aka - nice skirt lady) sent me a collage of a trip we took to the Princes' Island earlier this year so I am adding it here for a bit of colour.

 I love the ghost of pirate through the curtains.

I miss my laydees like mad right now. This morning when I skyped Three Paw  she turned her back and faced the window -  so the missing is not mutual.

Election Day is looming in Turkey. I think about it constantly. In a sense the way seems very clear. There are two paths to choose. Anything in the middle would surely lead to Election Day # 3. Who knows what will happen - I hope for the best but I fear the worst.

Thursday, 22 October 2015


In this picture I am wandering under the old city walls that surround Sultanahmet. Behind me are strewn cobbled streets, colourful wooden houses, tea houses and minarets. In front of me is my lady Bosphorus, gazing out towards Asia.

I remember this day perfectly and, in particular, looking at the blue waves licking the rocky shore. I remember thinking how they had come from other lands and how they would return over and over again.

I thought of my Shams.
And of Rumi.

“Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.”

And so  now I know that this city has always been in my blood. 

And I know too that when I dip my toes in the shallows of foreign water, I will be dipping them in my Lady once again. For we we will never be apart. Her waters and my blood are one and the same.

Even though I miss her. And my heart is broken now.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Breakfast in the Tash

This morning I woke before the sun and the sky outside was a milky velvet  hue. I only ever wake before the sun when my heart is unsettled and so I was soothed to hear the morning call-to-prayer. He even sang one of my favorite ditties, the one with a mournful yet tuneful tone. Pirate came up to my ear and rested her head under my chin and purred her way through her full repertoire as well.
How blessed am I!

Later I had breakfast in Besiktas with my friend, Didem. Actually I also had coffee with another friend, Dina, as well so obviously I was a socially-exhausted beast by the time I got home. Both women are wonderful Istanbullis. I envy them, in a way, to be wedded to this city by their birth.

I will miss Turkish breakfasts. They are the best in the world. And where I am going sadly does not honor breakfast with the same gusto. They are good about lunch and dinner though.

But I think the Turks are right. You should have the breakfast of a King (or Queen.) I look forward to many more in my life. And many more here in my beautiful city by my glorious lady Boss.

Obviously the only thing to do after breakfast is more coffee at my beloved coffee shop - La Chat Noir.  I met a little kitten there who climbed into my scarf and cried. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

JJGalbraith memorial walk

Today was a beautiful day. After errands in the morning, I went on one of my JJ Galbraith memorial walks. I'm not sure whether memorializing one's walks is narcissistic or pessimistic but I have been doing it for over ten years now so let's just call it a quirk. I have such named walks in Brisbane, Basel, London, Florence, Damascus and Istanbul. The walk I took today I  have written about before so I won't go into breathless detail. All I can say is it started with a metro ride to Vezneciler whereupon I stopped in at a student cafe for a 3 TL gozleme ( pancake) before wandering through the grounds of my most treasured  mosque - Suleyiman. As I walked, I trailed my fingers across Istanbul's ancient skin: overs walls and  wooden doors, old gates and pillars. My feet kissed her worn pavements and my head strained for the heavens.

I then passed through the Grand Bazaar where I had tea with Aydin, a bazaar shop owner I know, and my eyes glistened equally with joy and missing at the sight of  sparkling alley ways , the endless sound of  clinking tea glasses.

Later I met my favorite ex-student, Aliye, in Istiklal to drink wine. As we walked arm in arm, stroking each other's hair, I felt this deep sense of peace that I had finally come home. Over drinks we talked about Ankara, cats, the perils of gynecological surgery from the surgeon's point of view, Danish beer, Macedonian Raki and the fate of Jon Snow.

Then on the way home I cried.

This Sunday I am leaving Istanbul  - at least for the time being. My cats are staying here while I fly like a canary deep into a future cave to see if there is a life I can create for us all somewhere else.  If there is, my laydees will follow. If there isn't, I shall return.
For some reason I feel at pains to stress that this coming departure has nothing to do with Turkey's political situation. Because it doesn't.  I am not afraid here. I don't feel unsafe. I feel bonded to my city and if anything the current situation makes me want to stay more than go. But other plans have been made over the summer and it is time for me to see if they are truly what I want. As I have said many times before, my reasons for leaving in Istanbul are steeped in the practical not the emotional.

I don't feel this is goodbye though. I actually feel like our story still has much to follow.  I mean how can you not want to live in a city with signs like these :-)

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Wounded tiger

I haven't commented much on the current situation in Turkey of late. Largely because it wouldn't necessarily be prudent and also because I don't think my yabunci ( foreigner) brain can honestly say it has a grasp of all the layers of what is going on.

But I believe I know enough.

I know that  there is a  wounded tiger in its midst,  a cancer if you will, bent on destroying everyone and everything that stands in its path.

Saturday's massacre at a peace march defies words.  The fact that tear gas was employed immediately afterwards defies humanity.

The Turkish flags now fly at half mast. Fluttering in the October breeze like an endless crimson tide.

May those peaceful hearts so cruelly broken sleep in peace tonight.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Istanbul: Not all turds and tears

So I finally caught all three little kittens and they are currently receiving treatment at a vet clinic. They are wild little things, just like Pirate was, but it is nice to think for at least one week of their life they will have a warm bed and full bellies. Once better they will be returned to their street mama where they will also be reunited with their other two gorgeous siblings. I can't think too much about this next part of their story - it just makes me sad.

I have an ally, at least, in the shape of my elderly neighbor, an Armenian film director. He invited me to a cocktail party being thrown by a  Cinema Club he helped found but honestly I reeked of basement so badly I just couldn't face the glitter. He loves animals though and together we bond in the stairwell over the plight of this furry family.

But as the title says it is not all tears and turds in Istanbul right now. I went for a lovely lunch and stroll with two colleagues during Bayram last week. 
We started in the Syrian restaurant over in Yusufpasa. Best food in the city, I swear. Then we ambled up towards the Grand Bazaar, stopping in a traditional tea-house which I have known since my very first week here in Istanbul. Neither of my companions had ever been there but they loved it. It is always nice to share a hidden gem. 

After we strolled through the Hippodrome in Sultanahmet. Saw a girl get hit by a car which was driving on the pavement. The men who witnessed the accident didn't want to touch her, saying a woman needed to help her. May I never split an artery in this town with only men about! Fortunately an ambulance came eventually and the girl was taken away. She was conscious and talking which was good but her leg was badly twisted. 

Our journey then continued down the twisting back streets where all that is beautiful about Istanbul can be found in abundance.

And of course the cats.

Finally, we passed under the now defunct Orient Express railway line and then under an old city wall arch out to the sea. 

 The coastline was jagged and rocky and awash with Turks ( all men) soaking in the last of the summer sun.  We sat here for a while and exchanged superlatives about all that we could see, feel and hear.

Finally we made our way back round towards  the Galata Bridge and wished each other an Iyi Aksamlar ( a good night).

Istanbul, she'll break your heart and then heal it with her very next breath