Sunday, October 31, 2010

the bombing in taksim

This morning I was set to head down to Taksim for some errands and sketching, but decided to stay home and work on a drawing instead. At around 10:30 this morning, a suicide bomber, in an apparent attack on the police stationed near the Taksim monument, detonated a device which not only killed himself, but injured seventeen civilians and fifteen police officers.

I will never understand the desire to harm another human being. I believe nothing can be solved by violence, and news of this attack deeply saddens me. I love this city, and to think of someone so angry—for whatever reason— inflicting harm and terror upon its people... it just makes me sick to my stomach. My heart goes out to the people who have been hurt, both physically and emotionally by this violence.

You can read more about the attack on the Hurriyet Daily News.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Today marks the 87th anniversary of the founding of the secular, democratic Turkish Republic and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Red flags with white crescents and stars fly from every flag post, decorate the windows of homes, offices and schools, and fireworks brighten the night sky. Hopefully the giant clouds sailing in from the Black Sea won't obscure my view of the pretty pyrotechnics.

Happy Republic Day, my Turkish friends— Cumhuriyet Bayramı kutlu olsun!
I would also like to add a most heart-felt thank you, for making this nomad feel so at home in your beautiful country. Çok teşekkürler!

Monday, October 18, 2010

autumn leaves and butter tea

Autumn has fallen upon us here in Istanbul, and while it has always been my favourite season, I do believe spring is this city's forté. Istanbul autumns are cold and wet, with spectacular grey, boiling skies. The crows and jackdaws come out in full feathered force, scavenging for forgotten walnuts and bits of bread left for pigeons. The city is wrapped in mystery; foggy damp nights, dark streets and a greener-looking Bosphorus. Some people find it miserable, the melancholy overwhelming, but I love it. There's a wonderful poetry to the grey, to the bite of cold on your cheeks. It's the season for tea and scarves, for burrowing into the arms of loved ones, for reading novels to the sound of rain.

As a person who feels cold easily, I'm forever in search of ways to keep warm. When I sipped my first Tibetan butter tea in Nepal this summer, I instantly fell for its thick, salty creaminess and knew I needed a recipe for the bitter Istanbul winter that was around the corner. There's something about the melted butter that keeps you warmer longer than a regular cup of tea, and if you can acquire a taste for the beverage, it's quite pleasing. I had dreamt of drinking po cha in the Himalaya since I was a little girl, and somewhere deep inside my seven year old heart, I knew I already loved it.

So here's a quick and easy way to make po cha, without the yaks and with modern appliances. It tastes pretty close to the yaky original, but milder, and far easier to make. Traditional po cha requires a lengthy process of churning in a vessel called a chandong, but takes mere seconds in a blender.

Boil two cups of water with two heaping tablespoons of loose black tea until you've got a deep, rich colour (I like my tea really strong, so adjust according to your taste buds), strain out the leaves and pour the tea into a blender with a splash of milk and a tablespoon of butter. Add salt to taste, and blend until nice and frothy. Now, this isn't everyone's cup of tea— most Western tongues will reject the notion of a salty, buttery tea, but I highly recommend everyone try a version of po cha at least once in life— it's oh so soothing!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

the song of vendors and crowds

Close your eyes and imagine you are being carried away in the crowd's current, the scent of herbs and onions in the air...

Monday, October 11, 2010

all together now

Well in the mad scramble that has been my life of late, I forgot to mention that my drawing was selected as one of fifteen winning poster designs for the talented, sultry and sweet Gabby Young and Other Animals and their
All Together Now
UK Tour! If you happen to be in one of the fine, lucky towns on the night of a show, I urge you to stop in and have a listen. It's eccentric, eclectic, electric and most of all, romantic. Swooning is inevitable.

Having returned from wooing Americans in New York and California, the group will be stealing hearts around the UK this autumn, and hopefully one day, pop on over to our fair city of Istanbul. Ms. Young's voice and our skies... I can't think of a more perfect match.

See the other winning designs here, courtesy of Amelia's Magazine.
They're simply fabulous.

Friday, October 8, 2010

the next one

It's raining like a monsoon outside, the wind is howling, it's past midnight and I'm exhausted from a busy, busy week. I've tipped over the point where tiredness becomes a mild insomnia. I don't feel like drawing, knitting or reading, so I thought I'd write briefly about my next upcoming adventure, a trip to Denmark. My grandad is one tough Dane, with a penchant for smelly cheese and blue china plates. I love him dearly, and want to visit his homeland (he lives in California).

Having been raised moving from place to place and always feeling the foreigner, I wonder what connection I might feel to Danish culture, if any. I've never had a sense of nationality or belonging, I've always adopted the elements of the cultures I was enveloped in that spoke to me most. I had visited Copenhagen once with my mum when I was five, and don't remember much except gleefully playing in a public fountain with a bunch of semi-nude blonde kids. I'm eager to learn more about where those drops of Scandinavian blood that run through me are from, and to visit the town where my grandad ate his first piece of smelly cheese. I'm also looking forward to seeing where his dad, John Tranum, parachuting and base jumping pioneer and famed stuntman of the 20s and early 30s, lived and was buried.

Here's a fabulous picture of my great-grandad from a Danish site:

I love this photo. Among his long list of record-breaking jumps, this daring Dane hopped off the Eiffel Tower, the Pasadena Bridge, and successfully rode a motorcycle off a thousand foot cliff. I wonder if I've inherited a bit of his wild streak with my passion for swinging from trapezes.

It's a wonderful feeling, looking forward to a trip. I've got a couple of others that I'm tossing around in my head, but nothing set in stone. Right, now. I'm going to try and shut my eyes.