Photo Journal

[Photo Journal] Topkapi Palace in Istanbul


Myra here.

Every Tuesday, we will be sharing photographs about our recent or long-ago travels, or just everyday stuff that appealed to our mindful eye and sharp sensibilities as captured through fleeting images.

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Last week, I shared a few photographs from one of Istanbul’s oldest cafes. This week, I am excited to share a few more photographs from the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. I was very fortunate that my gracious host was kind enough to spend time with me and bring me around. His brilliant commentary, keen observations, and eye for detail are impeccable. Here are a few pictures from Palace-turned-Museum and one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.


“In the Ottoman times, there were itinerant storytellers called “meddah. ” They would go to coffee houses, where they would tell a story in front of an audience, often improvising. With each new person in the story, the meddah would change his voice, impersonating that character. Everybody could go and listen, you know ordinary people, even the sultan, Muslims and non-Muslims. Stories cut across all boundaries. Like “The Tales of Nasreddin Hodja,” which were very popular throughout the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans and Asia. Today, stories continue to transcend borders” ― Elif Shafak


“Life can’t be all that bad,’ I’d think from time to time. ‘Whatever happens, I can always take a long walk along the Bosphorus.”
― Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories and the City


“I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed
The drunkenness of old times
In the wooden seaside villa with its deserted boat house
The roaring Southwestern wind is trapped,
My thoughts are trapped.

I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed
A bird is flying around your skirt
I know if your forehead is hot or cold
Or your lips are wet or dry;
Or is a white moon is rising above the hazelnut tree
My heart’s fluttering tells me
I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed” 
― Orhan Veli Kanık, Bütün Şiirleri


“From the first, Istanbul had given him the impression of a town where, with the night, horror creeps out of the stones. It seemed to him a town the centuries had so drenched in blood and violence that, when daylight went out, the ghosts of its dead were its only population.” 
― Ian Fleming, From Russia With Love


“Because time is a drop in the ocean, and you cannot measure off one drop against another to see which one is bigger, which one is smaller.” 
― Elif Shafak, The Bastard of Istanbul


“The Iron Rule of prudence for an Istanbulite Woman: If you are as fragile as a tea glass, either find a way to never encounter burning water and hope to marry an ideal husband or get yourself laid and broken as soon as possible. Alternatively, stop being a tea-glass woman!” 
― Elif Shafak, The Bastard of Istanbul


“We’re stuck. We’re stuck between the East and the West. Between the past and the future. On the one hand there are the secular modernists, so proud of the regime they constructed, you cannot breathe a critical word. They’ve got the army and half of the state on their side. On the other hand there are the conventional traditionalist, so infatuated with the Ottoman past, you cannot breathe a critical word. They’ve got the general public and the remaining half of the state on their side.” 
 Elif Shafak, The Bastard of Istanbul


“I don’t want to be a tree; I want to be its meaning.” 
― Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red


“Yeah, we should all line up along the Bosphorus Bridge and puff as hard as we can to shove this city in the direction of the West. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try the other way, see if we can veer to the East. It’s no good to be in between. International politics does not appreciate ambiguity.” 
― Elif Shafak, The Bastard of Istanbul


“The past lives within the present, and our ancestors breathe through our children.” 
― Elif Shafak, The Bastard of Istanbul


“There was something in the color white that resembled silence. Both were emptied of life.” 
― Elif Shafak, The Bastard of Istanbul


“It never took her long to darken any conversation, as from birth she was inclined to see misery in each and every story, and to fabricate some when there was none.” 
― Elif Shafak, The Bastard of Istanbul

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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