Friday, December 3, 2010

A fearful traveler confesses all

The San Francisco-based website Salon.com, which I followed avidly in my early days as a journalist, has published a personal essay I originally wrote for my blog about travel, safety, and fear as one of their "Life stories" under the title "All my little illusions of safety." (It's the top story on their homepage in the screen shot to the right.)

Though I sat down to write the story the night after a suicide bomber hit a large public square near my house in Istanbul, the essay draws on thoughts and ideas I've been toying with since 1999, some of which were scrawled on pieces of notebook paper I brought with me all the way to Turkey. It's particularly satisfying to have finally given them shape -- and to see them in (virtual) print.

Friday, September 24, 2010

'Istanbul's ugly face'

Earlier this week, I was among the witnesses to an organized attack on a group of art galleries in Istanbul's Tophane neighborhood, a disheartening experience I wrote about on my personal blog, The Turkish Life, in what turned out to be one of the few (if not the only) English-language accounts of the incident. Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet subsequently contacted me to get my take on the events, and translated parts of my blog post, along with some of my spoken comments, for today's paper. (That's not me in the photo of patrons leaving one of the attacked galleries, by the way.)

It didn't make it into the article, but as I told the reporter, I love this part of the city and though I understand I'm among the people contributing to its gentrification, I sincerely hope Istanbul can find a way to continue to develop without marginalizing long-time residents. Given what's happened in Sulukule and what's underway in Tarlabaşı, it's hard to be optimistic, though.

UPDATE: The German culture magazine Perlentaucher also linked to my post in an article about the incident. The article is in German, so I can't read it, but I'm sure it's brilliant as it's by my good friend Constanze Letsch, who also witnessed the Tophane events. (She said the editor found my link without any tip-off from her.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Taking a regional view

Yesterday, the "Regionscape" editor for the Hürriyet Daily News ran across a post I'd written recently for TreeHugger about a reforestation effort in Armenia, Turkey's neighbor to the east, and asked to reprint it in the paper, where it appears in today's print edition. (TreeHugger maintains the online rights to the piece.) Unfortunately, I haven't yet had a chance to travel to Armenia to see the program in action first hand, but I hope to do so soon!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Istanbul 'expert' at work

After helping update guides to Istanbul and Turkey for DK Travel and Weissmann Reports, I've started an assignment as the "Istanbul expert" for Simonseeks, a new British travel site. I'll be scoping out the best hotels and restaurants in the city, and writing guides to sightseeing, shopping, nightlife, and getting around -- not to mention highlighting some of my personal favorite spots in my adopted home. The Istanbul guide will debut later in the fall -- watch this space for more details.

To go along with my new gig, I've also started up a second Twitter account, @TheTurkishLife, devoted to all things Istanbul and Turkey.

Monday, June 28, 2010

One expat eyes another, 100 years in the past

Immersing myself in the late 19th and early 20th century life of a bourgeois Jewish woman in San Francisco might seem like a strange thing to do while living in Istanbul, but I jumped on the chance to investigate little-known writer Harriet Lane Levy for California magazine.

Though at first I found it hard to relate to the cloistered childhood she depicts in her autobiography, I became fascinated by how someone who grew up in such a small, closed-off world could make the leap to a larger one -- and eventually saw some similarities to my having caught the travel bug so badly when no one else in my family even has a passport. My expatriate life is pretty different than what we know of Levy's -- more cheap beers with fellow journalists in dive bars and fewer swanky soirees in famous artists' ateliers, and, of course, no family wealth to live off -- but the journey into the past provided worthwhile insights.

My article on Levy appears in the Summer 2010 issue of California, part of the theme of "Shelf Life."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Boing!

A photo gallery I put together for TreeHugger got linked on the popular tech site Boing Boing yesterday. Photographer Mary Taffe was great to work with and her abstract images of pollution in the lake near her Minnesota home are both artistically striking and very sobering.

It's always gratifying to be able to help call attention to the local environmental battles that people are fighting across the world. Having that coverage get attention from my blogging peers is a nice bonus.