Thursday, July 31, 2008

A few thousand words

... is what I am supposed to produce within midnight today. I'm still short by about half.

Meantime, on Kaushik's suggestion, here's the equivalent of a few thousand -

Cafe by the Bosphorus in Ortakoy.
Lazy Sunday morning.

Hagia Sophia dome. Built as a basilica in the 6th century, converted into a mosque by Sultan Mehmet 900 years later (nine HUNDRED years, and that's nearly 700 years ago!), now a museum.

Lese majeste. Peeping into the bathing chambers of the Queen in the seraglio of the Topkapi Palace. (If you've seen me you know I do not have blonde hair)
The palace apparently was not just a pleasure dome. It was the administrative headquarters of the Ottoman empire, where bright young men were trained in the skills of war and politics. They were supposed to lay down their lives for the Sultan, hence jaan nisaari, a term whose Anglicised corruption I first came across in Basil Copper's story The Janissaries of Emilion.
Oh, and the women - we were told it was actually like a prestigious finishing school for the daughters of the nobility. I'll wager there were SOME courses you wouldn't find at Vassar. And I'm not thinking just Belly Dancing 101 either.

Display of preserves in Haci Abdallah. Down the fourth alley on your right as you walk down Istiklal Street from Taksem Square. Quite amazing food, even better when you have an appetite because you can just point to what you want and it's on your table in less than a minute.

on sale in the Spice Bazaar by the Golden Horn. I wish I could have brought one back to set beside my rocking chair, but even if I can get omburi tamaak from Chitpur, who on earth is going to set it up and get it going for me every evening? Besides, while it goes very well with raqi (the local aniseed liquour), it may not gel with vodka & tonic.

Against the afternoon sun, a minaret of the Blue Mosque looks anything but blue. A moment of magic ... As we entered the mosque, the muezzin struck up his azaan. More melodious than anything I've heard in India. And from the Hagia Sophia across the road came an echo from the muezzin there. For a quarter of an hour, like our musical sawaal jawaab, they kept us entranced. (I should learn how to post a video clip)

A tray of mezze. According to my friend T*, only the tourists ask for the menu. The locals (and the coolios) ask to see the tray and pick up what they want. I did. And was happy. Pastermi for the main course. Very good, but can't post the picture of that one. If I showed you I'd have to kill you and all that sort of thing.
Most wonderful honey-sweet melons for dessert. (They kept that extra helping in reserve for me, I suspect.)

I already posted the view from my balcony? Did I mention that it's rather wonderful at night too?

Comments invited, I do so want to be a photographer when I grow up ...


S said...

i want all that food! and yes, you are good enough as a...erm...kid!

Sougata said...

Good stuff. And by "stuff", I mean the photographs, the food, the blonde, etc.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Wow, 9000 words (8 pix worth a thousand words each, plus a 1000 bonus for the mezze pix - I adore grub-shots!). That's no mean achieverment for a wannabe (or is it has-been there and done that) professional photographer!

Seriously, though, lovely 'telling' snapshots!

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

All 3 S's, many thanks. May your tribe increase!


Szerelem said...

dear lord, I miss that city. I hope you had fun there - the pictures are lovely :)

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Yet another S?
Szerelem, thank you for the kind words. I'm planning to go back myself.


Szerelem said...

Yet another S, yes :)

You know, I read your blog regularly on my reader but I'm usually so lazy to comment (save the couple of times I have in the past - eons ago) - I think it takes Istanbul to get me off my ass. Sigh.

Phantasmagoria said...

I want!

tami said...

I love, love and loved this one!! You should so be a photographer Uncle J. and a writer. Both.

Quit your job.

p.s. With this, I am now officially a huge fan of your photography and writing :)