Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Gate

The picture is of a gate in the Byzantine walls of Thessaloníki, Greece. Until the beginning of the industrial era, most cities around the world had gates. It was a clear demarcation between the city and the surrounding countryside. However seeing gates in these pre-industrial cities conjures up the metaphoric use of gates. The Bible has many references to them. The one that I remember is “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalm 100: 4).” The references to gates in the Bible are literal and also metaphoric as seen in this link: The "gate" metaphor is still in our vocabulary transferred from an era where gates were a significant part of the morphology of a city.

In the mercantilist and industral city, gates ceased to be a defense mechanism is as the city was protected through the nation-state. Most cities in Europe tore down their walls. They can stilll be perceived in the street patterns of many of the cities. In a few cases, they did survive and recall a different and less hostile city. The early American British colonial cities such as Boston and Charleston had walls and gates. (It should be noted that many North American and Middle American pre-European settlements had walls--either of stone or wood. Therefore, it may considered to be part of the human embeded mind .) However, once the threats of other coloninal powers (e.g., French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese) were minimal due to the naval power of the British Empire and the entry of the early industiral era into the American colonies, walls ceased to be relavent. Walls were not necessary for defense against the attacks by Native Americans as they had been effectively subugated early in the history of the American colonies, either by disease, masacure or relocation. For this reason, there are no prominent city walls in US cities. In recent times, walls around upper middle and high income residential settlements (Gated Communities) have become commonplace around the world. It should be fairly clear that such segregation is an affront to urban living and grounded in manufactured consumer-oriented fear of the other.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Urban Protest

(Image found at at If you have further interst about the surroundings of the above photo, please read the following page on this website: )

The city is often the backdrop of protest. Cities should allow peaceful protest as a way for its citizens to express their concerns about local or international issues. In civil societies, it can be a venue to educate urban residents and others about their concerns. However, in some cases the atmosphere is presumed to be one of conflict by local authorities. This was often the case in Istanbul. I was by happenstance in Uskardar (Asian side of Istanbul) on a day when the Turkish Communist Party was organizing a rally. The police was there with tanks and lined up geared up for conflict. It was a grey rainy day which added to the foreboding atmosphere of possible violence. Trying to exit this area was not easy as some of the roads had been blocked etc. The above photo (not taken by myself) was taken during the Water Conference in Istanbul. This did not turn into a peaceful event either. The most major protest event is May Day in Istanbul. This day is filled with controversy and sometimes violence by the protesters and the police. Some of the protesters obviously want to cause disturbances and welcome arrest and violence. The urban flaneur observes these events and contemplates on the multiple forces at work. Of course, s/he would rather be at a cafe with their espresso and enjoying the life of the city. Their means of protest and comment is media, not action. The impacts of media can be far more effective than an actual protest event, which could be paralleled to a tragic circus or drama.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The City as a Playground

What a wonderful scene! This is the famous beach of Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro. The view is spectacular, the beaches wide and cafes everywhere. This photograph was taken in winter time, but winter is not so bad in Rio-- as can be seen. However, it can be also rainy and inhospitable in winter, as I also discovered. In this photograph, people are in casual attire, biking, talking and enjoying the atmosphere. If not for other engagements and need for additional income, I would have gladly missed my plane and stayed for an extended period. Urban magical places just don't happen. They are created and nurtured! Granted, some are helped by nature, as in case of Rio. However, despite having one of the most spectacular beaches in the world, this could have been a drab place.

From the Ordinary to the Exraordinary

This is the pedestrian bridge across the Thames River in London which links the St. Paul area with the New Tate Gallery. Instead of a plain bridge, this is a work of art in itself connecting both in physical and metaphorical space the museum with the masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren (St. Paul's Cathedral). This photo even show how the bridge does not hide St. Paul's, but frames it. Although I have a mixed view of the Bauhaus School , because it resulted in modern architecture which has made city skylines around the world the same, the concept of utilitarian as art that the School promoted is thankfully still being practiced in some rare places.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Patricia Kaas

I saw Patricia Kaas in Istanbul. I became an instant fan. This video and the song embodies the feeling of being a flaneur.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Moment of Zen

The above is the Christ the Redeemer which overlooks Rio de Janeiro , Brazil. It is probably one of the most recognizable statues in the world. It is the “brand” for Rio de Janeiro. I was there in July for a conference and was able to visit it up close. It is quite a journey to get up to the summit. It is an impressive statue. However, the sublime mixes with the comic and the tawdry. There are the throngs of tourist taking pictures with their arm out streched, as if this is the way one should pose for a picture there. Then there are numerous shops selling miniatures of the statue. However, the view is one of the most spectacular in the world. There is Rio all below you. If you can ignore the tourists and just take a litte time to look around you it, it is a moment of zen- a moment which can not be described that overloads our finite minds and be reflected upon to gain greater awareness. (My greatest moment of zen was standing on a cliff on the Aran Islands in Ireland—seeing the waves crash upwards to the sky against the cliff and the skaking of the ground. The infinite being observed by the finite.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Walking Among the Dead

The picture to the right is a ruined church in the city of Ani in northeastern Turkey on the Turkish/Armenian border. It is not on the tourist routes as yet-as it was previously restricted. Therefore, one can get the full impact of this amazing place. This place is haunted by the ghosts of the past. You can sense this from the moment that you enter this place. Ani was once one of the most prosperous cities in the region. At one time, a rival to Constantinope (Istanbul). Now, there is nothing but the wind blowing. If great cities can become desolate places, what does this say about the permance of our present cities. Can one be an urban flaneur while walking among the ruins of this ancient city? It is no longer a city because people do not inhabitate it. Do the ruined buildings speak to us of lessons that we can learn?

Inspiration for a Sustainable City

Well, this is not exactly urban. However, inspiration can happen anywhere. This is a picture from a small village in east Bulgaria. The woman is strolling down the dirt road just for the sake of doing so--enjoying the sounds of nature, hearing the bleating of goats and not hearing the sounds of modern urbanity (sirens, car noises etc.)

This village started me to think about the means to reach urban sustainability. Each house has a garden where they can grow enough fruits and vegetables for themselves and for resale. You can walk to the store for groceries. There is a communal goat herd which has individual owners, but walked by a group of older men. So, there is a source of meat and milk. Most have their own chickens and pigs. The only need is electricity. However, with a few windmills, solar power and small hydro-electric plants (this is depending if this is feasible for the area), the need for electricity will be greatly diminished. However, could other people in developed countries live in this manner?

The Bleakness of the City

The city can be a bleak and sterile place. Unfortunately, treating places as industrial commodities results in these stark environments. This picture was taken in a garage on the outskirts of Sofia. I decided to convert this photo which was originally in color to grey scale to accentuate the drabness of this location. In the background, one can observe the apartment complexes that are typical of Communist era construction.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Train and the City

The above photograph was taken in a small suburban city outside of Sofia, Bulgaria. The trains pass through the city about every hour. What is it about trains that facinate me? They have been an intergral part of the fabric of cities for over a hundred years. What are they symbolizing and why do we look at them with such feelings? When the railroad was the dominant form of transportation, the station was one of the focal points of cities. The architecture of railway stations was some of the most interesting and eclectic. This deverses further contemplation and mayber some follow up at a later time.

Urban Garbage and the Dominance of Capitalism

This is a photograph of a new office buiding in the suburbs of Istanbul. You will not find this is the guidebooks of Istanbul. Rising over the blandness of modern suburbia is the new obelysk. But, instead of telling of the triumphs of the Pharohs and the gods, it is relating to those who view it of the dominance of capital. The obvious obscenity of this buiding goes unnoticed by the vast majority of those viewing it. Or maybe, they have been lulled into complacency subconsiously by the blantaness of consumerism and capatalism. Have they accepted that they are the slaves of capatilism, just as those who viewed the obelysks in Egypt knew that they were either actual or figurative slaves to the Pharoh. If this disturbs you, then you are making the realization that modernism/post-modernism is draining the soul of the city.

The Urban Flaneur as Reader of the Text of the City

(picture taken from online resources of the Chicago Institute of Art )

I was searching in google (googling) for blogs on the art of being a flaneur and came upon this page from a website:
This page is connected with the webage of konstantinos-antonios goutos/the[video]Flâneu®, found at . Mr. Goutos uses video to illustrate the views of an urban flaneur. The quotes that struck me were the following:

In the flâneur`s perceptive eyes, what appeared incoherent and meaningless gains focus and visability. The flâneur brings alive and invests with significance the fleeting, everyday occurrences of the city that ordinary people failed to notice.

The unique relationship between the flâneur and the urban environment was invariably characterized by the metaphor of the city as text and the flâneur as reader.

The above quotes were taken by Mr. Goutos from an article of Mary Gluck, The Flâneur and the Aesthetic Appropriation of Urban Culture in Mid-19th century, Paris, Theory, Culture and Siciety, 2003 (SAGE, London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi), Vol. 20

When I pondered about these quotes, I immediately thought of the painting by Caillebotte, Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877), as seen at the begining of this section. (Note: you can double click the image to make it larger._
I saw this painting as a teenager while visiting Chicago from my then hometown in Iowa, I went with my father on a business trip. While he was going to meetings, I spent the whole day in the museum. While I have been to most of the art museums around the world, there are few paintings which touched me with awe and transformed my perceptions in one instance. Salvadore Dali stated “I don't do drugs. I am drugs. “ This painting transforms something ordinary into a portal into the senses, aesthetics and society. As all paintings, they must be viewed in the gallery to get the full impression. I was first struck by the impression of rain on the pavement. The later by the almost realistic, but somewhat false appearance of the figures. A moment which passed in less than a second is paused and manipulated to bring the ordinary into a vehicle of contemplation on multiple levels. Is it merely a clever arrangements of different perspectives? Is it a criticism of the bourgeois lifestyle of Paris? Is the painting merely a predecessor of hyper-realism? This painting illustrates for me the artist as the urban flaneur. Caillebotte is reading the city as metaphor and delivering it to his audience. Is an urban flaneur not a shaman who takes the ordinary and gives us visions?
(Note: A discussion of Caillebotte as a flaneur can be found at the following link: )

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What is an Urban Flaneur

If you live in an urban area of any size, you have the potential to be an urban flaneur. A flaneur is one that strolls the streets of cities, observing the people, the buildings and events. But, observation is not objective, but subjective as an individual processes what s(h)e sees within his collection of experiences, culture and personal philosophy. In essence, everyone in an urban area is a potential flaneur. The difference is the ability to ability to observe and translate these observations into some media as plays, film, music, art , and writing (poems, novels, non-fiction, blogs-both analog or digital). The audience, the music listeners (live or recorded), the museum visitors (real, virtual, or printed in books) and readers reflect on what has been transmitted to them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 14

The Istanbul Blues

It is a strange feeling being caught between two realities. One is the reality that I left in Istanbul and the other my present reality in the U.S.A. While coming back to the States has a feeling of comfort, being that I am American and this is the place where I am most familiar, it often feels like I am a stranger in my own country. It is a form of culture shock that will take some time to get accustomed. In previous years, I was visiting for two to three weeks, I was still connected to Istanbul and was not adjusted. I was a visitor to my own county. Now, my memories, my connections and my outlook still reflect my time my life in Istanbul. Somehow, my spirit is still in Istanbul, but my physical being is in the States. I yearn for Turkish food, to hear Turkish, to live in the chaos that I had adapted and the Marmara. But, as a new chapter closes, another one begins. Yet to get there, I must go through some the same stages as one who is mourning a lost loved one. Nevertheless, no matter where I go, I will always carry a little bit of Istanbul and Turkey with me.

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 13

The Disposable Istanbul

I can not remember how many times that I went into Istanbul from my home. It was a one to two hour trip depending upon the type of public transport that I decided to take. Every time, I tried to find some beauty in Istanbul outside of the walls, but was always disappointed. This is what the tourist does not see...the kilometers of bland apartment buildings, kitch commercial stores, monolythic shopping centers and the sea of vehicles, which are found all over the world. In Istanbul, there is no significant parks or open spaces in the western suburbs to break up this monotony. The poorer population often find green spaces only in the interchanges. On Sundays, the masses can be seen having picnics in these areas. These areas are dormitories for the nearby factories. It makes you wonder if the economic opportunity was worth it for those that migrated from Anatolia. Many come from the area of the the Black Sea near Trabzon area which is one of the most phenomenally beautiful places in Turkey. It is no wonder that most of the new residents of Turkey still identify with the villages they left and why they would like to return.

In looking from the bus window, I could find no separation between different land uses. Apartment buildings are often located to next to industries with truck traffic and sometimes pollution. It is not the image that the image that Istanbul boosters would like to project. I was in Rio de Janeiro recently. The same scene is seen there. In posters, one sees the beaches, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, and Sugar Loaf. No one is made aware of the large amount of Rio which is urban clutter...kilometers of housing for the working poor of Rio. Is this the plague of developing countries? In developed countries, the houses are better, the commercial centers more upscale and the industries cleaner, but the urban monotony/sterility still persists. Yet, this is the backdrop which the lives of people are played out.

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 12

The Real Dervishes

One of the symbols of Turkey on tourist posters and brochures, is the 'whirling dervishes'. There are several “shows” around Istanbul which cater to tourists. It seems to the outsider as a folk dance, but it is actually tied to Sufism- a mystic form of Islam. The 'whirling dervishes” is a practice of dance within this branch of Islam. It is not officially recognized as a religion by the Republic of Turkey. This goes back to the founding of the Republic where it was perceived that the Sufis had too much influence in the Ottoman Empire. The places where Sufism is practiced is termed a lodge, not a mosque.

The real dervishes can be found in a small lodge in Fatih municipality. I went there several times. It is known by some touristx, but there is no charge This is because it is part of a worship service. Being Muslim, it is segregated according to gender. The women watch from the balcony through a lattice. The foreigners men and women are allowed to watch from a stage at one end of the hall. It is not a tourist “event”, but an experience. In my situation, I had a friend who was Muslim and had been there before. He knew many of the people there. When you arrive, you enter a room which is filled with smoke. Several groups of men are sitting on the floor drinking tea and smoking. It helped that I was not a ordinary tourist, but someone who lived in Istanbul and was adapted to Turkey. Mostly in my case, the conversation was concerning where I was from and introductions. After a while, it is announced that the service will begin. There are two rooms in the lodge used for the service. One is used for the dervishes and one for the worshipers. The service starts with the ritual prayer facing the mihrab, the ornamented section of the lodges/mosques indicating the direction of Mecca. Then, the worshipers proceed to the other room. The worshipers are all dressed in white. There is first some sufi music for about 10 minutes. Then the dervishes enter in a straight line into the other room The proceed to form a circle whereas the first starts to spin and and then he progressing around the room for allowing for another dervish to enter the circle until all of the dervishes, except for the leader are spinning. One hand is pointed upward and another to the floor. The white skirts are forming a circle around them. There is no sounds of feet moving from the dervishes, only the rustle of their vestments. It is repeated three times. Meanwhile, chanting is ongoing in the other room. The chant that is repeated is Allah akbar (God is the Greatest.) It gets more intense as the service progresses. Everyone, including the observers, are transported to a meditative state because of the combination of the music, chantting and the visual aspect of the whirling dervishes. It is not a hypnotic state because you are always aware of your surroundings. This is no mere tourist show. As a tourist, you are the observer but in this place you are also a participant. I am not telling the location, because I do not want to cheapen this place to become another tourist attraction. However, I can assist you in attending the service if you are interested.

A Farewelll to Istanbul: Part 11

“Orhan Pamuk is not Turkish because he is from Mecidiyeköy”
The first time I heard this from a friend, I was amused and intellectually fascinated by this logic. If you explain the logic to an ex-pat, who has lived in Turkey for more than one year, the “ah-ha” factor clicks in. For Turks living in Istanbul, no explanation is necessary. Either they agree with it or they discuss the problems with the problems of ultra-nationalism in Turkey and freedom of speech. For those who have never lived in Turkey, it is meaningless. Even with an explanation, it is still not clearly understandable. The readers should understand that this article is not pushing an agenda, but is discussed here to give them some insight and understanding on issues in Istanbul as they relate to Turkish politics. This is sensitive issue and is only discussed here in an objective manner and for intellectual pondering.

I liked this topic because I am a geographer and further an urban geographer. For those not familiar with Istanbul, Mecidiyeköy is one of the first places where the nouveau riche settled at the beginning of the last century. After the Turkish Republic was established it gained the reputation of having a bourgeois secular and Western oriented population. Orhan Pamuk, one of the better know Turkish author with an international reputation, grew up in this neighborhood and subsequently has written about it in his novel, Istanbul: Memories and the City. In 2006, Mr. Pamuk received a Nobel Peace Prize in Literature. Previously, Pamuk issued a statement about the inability of the Turkish government to accept the facts on the alleged Armenian Genocide. Many Turks think that the two are related and that the vote for the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature was given to Pamuk for political reasons and not on Mr. Pamuk's merits as a writer. The statement on Pamuk not being Turkish because he grew up in Mecidiyeköy further damns him in the eyes of his detractors. It is slightly akin to saying that Woody Allen is not American because he is from New York and Jewish.

Personally, I think that Orhan Pamuk's statement on the alleged Armenian Genocide, being one of the most controversial issues in Turkey, was 'grand standing' and self promotional. Although I think that Pamuk is an extraordinary writer, there is a strong suspicion that his inflammatory statement was catering to Western European and gave him the nudge to gain the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. He should have used better discretion, but writers are not always known for discretion, as being controversial is what sells books. The linkage of certain personal characteristics to an area, city or neighborhod of people is also typical of Turkey. For example, it is often stated that “People from Kaiseri are good business men." Geographic sterotypes are inherenlty ludicrous, but still persist in all cultures. Nevertheless, it is another vehicle to discredit Pamuk as being a representative of Turkey. Regardless, it is interesting and gives one some insight on Turkish politics and an indication of the 'scars' that the Turks still bear.

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 10

From Istanbul to Texas
I have gone from a city of close to twenty million to one that is less than 20 thousand. However, this is not the first time that I have made this trip. However, before I was a visitor and this time I am returning to seek employment back in my native country, at least for a while. The experience is similar to 'channel surfing.' This year, it has really been that way for me. In three months, I went from the Istanbul to London, London to Texas, back to Istanbul, then to Brazil , back to Istanbul and then back to Texas. In the process, I have switched from Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese and English, sometimes within minutes. (Don't presume that I am fluent in all these languages, except for English.)
My friends and colleagues are now spread between Australia, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, Greece, U.K., Brazil and various places in the U.S. In the past, communication was only through letters. Now with e-mail, Yahoo Messenger, Facebook, Skype, contacts can be easily maintained. Traveling to destinations is fairly easy and sometimes inexpensive via the world wide network of airlines.

Ships, Ferries and the Sea
One of the charms of Istanbul is the ships and other water transportation. It is part of every citizen's life in Istanbul, weather they use the ferries on a daily basis or see them in the course of a day. The ferries are loved by all those who have lived in Istanbul, plying the Bosporus daily or to the Prince's Island. One of the most wonderful experiences is to take the ferry to the Prince's Islands during the summer. The journey is part of the experience, being on the sea, feeling the air and watching the sea gulls as they follow the ferry. The catamarans that go between the European and Asia side are a high tech thrill. The ride is always so smooth and the gentle rocking that I usually have a nap on these short trips.

From my apartment window or at the beach, I could see the ships that are either coming into local ports or going to the Bosporus. I aways wanted to have a villa that was on the sea so that I could just stare out the window and watch the passing ships. My favorite cafe was one that over looked the Bosporus near Topkapi. Even in cold weather, it was a wonderful place. From there, you could see the large tankers, small Black Sea ships and the constant furious activities of the ferries. In the distance one could view the first bridge. I often took visitors and my students to this location. To me, it was the best way for them to understand Istanbul. It was also an excuse to come back and for awhile be like a child and marvel at this wonderful place.

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 9

The Changing Weather of Istanbul
Last Sunday (6 September 2009) apparently was the last good weekend for a while.
It was a wonderful day which was spent sunbathing and snorkeling at a nearby beach.
The rain came in on Monday and the temperature dropped. It rained on Tuesday very hard and continued somewhat on Wednesday. Some of the surrounding cities in Trakya experienced flooding that washed away cars and inflicted other property damage. There were also some deaths. My question is: Could this catastrophe been avoided with proper floodplain management? This is a question that have to be answered by the appropriate authorities. It should also a question that many citizens of this area are asking of the authorities.

In Istanbul, there are often abrupt changes in the weather. However, it is not true Mediterranean climate as it is also influenced by weather coming from Europe through Bulgaria and Greece and sometimes from Anatola. Summers have almost no rain and relatively hot. In the fall, usually around October, the rains begin. In the winter, there are usually one or two significant snowfalls. (However, the last two years there was almost no snow.) Is this global warming or just cyclical? These questions that should be addressed by climatologists.

I Will Return
I am very sorry to leave a city that I have grown to love and cherish. It has been my home for five years. I have struggled with the language, adapted to the culture and become attached to Istanbul. Places that were once strange to me are very familiar. However, does anyone truly know Istanbul? It is such a diverse place filled with historical places and numerous peoples from various ethnic groups and backgrounds. Istanbul is a dynamic city changing as I write this section. When I return, hopefully soon, I will see new things that will give me further thought. I will continue to write other parts, as time allows.

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 8

Sounds of Istanbul
Cities are not just about images. They are about sounds. Here are some of the sounds of Istanbul. For those that have lived in Istanbul or visited, I sure that you can recall them and hear them in your mind. For those who have never been to Istanbul, I wish I could have provided sounds to give you give you a semblence of the complete audio-visual experience that makes Istanbul a stimulating exciting place. I quess some small sound bits would be nice, but at the time of this writing, I have to get back to packing and getting ready to leave The City.

Here are some of the sounds that I can recall:
The minibus honking his horn
A ferryboat as it pulls into the dock
A fishing boat chugging along in the early morning
The sound of children playing out side and playing hide and seek
bir, iki, uç, dort, beş... (one, two, three four, five...)
The banging of the drum and the hypnotic sound of the sas (an oboe like instrument) for a wedding party
A lone traveling grocer selling his tomatoes, eggplants, etc.
The campaign van advertising a candidate
The clanging of the tram
A bus conductor announcing the next stop … eczane var mi? (Is there any one getting off at the drugstore?)
A bus conductor announcing the destination to potential passengers while the bus is stopped...
“Yeniboşna, Avcilar” (the end of the Metro and an area in Istanbul)
The laughter and shouting of children at a school playground
The hazan (call to worship of a mosque) and the cannon fire ending the fast during Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkish)
The drums waking up those fasting during Ramadan so that they can eat before sunrise
The sounds of cars honking around the city after a football (soccer) team has gotten a goal
The intense sound of cars honking their horns after a Turkish football club or Turkish national team has won a game
The beating of the drum to get someone to pay their mosque dues
The ringing of doorbells by children during the holiday after Ramadan

A Farewelll to Istanbul: Part 7

The Children of Istanbul..the Forgotten and the Privileged
One thing you get used to is the wide variety of situations in Istanbul. It is the same in all cities, but diffeent in those in developing nations. Children are the hope of any nation. The unchanging motto of the United Negro College Fund is “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” When I see children at the corner in Istanbul selling tissue or other trinkets, picking up garbage or begging, I often think of this statement. Why are they not in school? Are they being forced to do this by their parents? This is not unusual for developing nations. You see this in Mexico or in Brazil where I was recently. It still does not excuse it. In Istanbul, the use of adults is worse. Some children, I have been told and it is a widely known phenomena or urban myth and undocumented, are brought from eastern Turkey, hooked on glue and then are forced to pick-pocket to keep their habit alive and also bring the money to thugs.
If there is any truth to this, it is deplorable. The deliberate exploitation of children and ignoring of their potential by any nation(The U.S. Is not doing such a good job either) is not only a terrible thing but a tragic and inexcusable thing.
“ One Week at War in Iraq and Afghanistan for $3.5 Billion.” stated William D. Hartung ( Let figure this out...$3.5 Billion times 52 weeks equals 182.0 Billion. Just think what that infusion of this money would do for education in the U.S. A fraction of this money to developing countries for education would add more to the stability of the world than all the money we waste “defending democracy and the American way of life” by military action. Also, the best defense for the developed country is the developing and enhancement of their human capital.

I have often stated to my students in Turkey, “The man picking up garbage on the street, does not really want this for a career. He may be smarter than anyone in this classroom, including me. He has never been given the opportunity as you have for education. You have that opportunity. Not only that, but you have the obligation to speak out and defend those who can not speak for themselves.” They roll their eyes. Students are the same all over the world. I hope that some of them have understood me. Now, I know this is the concept of the noblesse oblige-the obligation of the rich to help the poor-and in some intellectual circles, it may seem dated and naïve. I still think it is a powerful metaphor. Many of my students are privileged. They are fortunate. In Turkish homes, the children of the middle class are pampered and spoiled—boys particularly. This also comes with a heavy dose of discipline. You rarely see children acting up in public or among their elders. This is not all together true, as the theory of permissive parenting is also 'creeping” into Turkish society as it has in the rest of the West. Children are generally are pampered by not only their parents and relatives, but the general population in Istanbul and throughout Turkey. You often see woman passenger in a bus willingly handing her child over to an amca or teze (uncle and aunt in Turkish, but means an older man or woman and is a sign of respect) if there is no where to sit. One particular note, it does not exactly sit well with me when some younger person calls me an amca, but I let it go because it not an insult for them or designating me as old, but as a sign of respect. However, for young people even if you are in your thirties, which I am not, you would be called an amca or a teze by those less senior than you..mainly by those younger. Hocam is another phrase meaning “a respected teacher” is also used by younger peope when they are speaking to an older persons. My students translate this into “teacher”. I have told them directly, in English and American universitis you say Professor____ or Dr. ______ , not teacher. Or sometimes, they refere to their teacher as ______ Bey or ___Bayan, mister or miss. It is always the first name that is used—for example Ibrahem Bey or Mr. Abraham or Ibrahem Hoca. I also say, don't call me Mr. McAdams, because this is for lecturers and not persons that have a Ph.D and teach at the university or college level. It was still somewhat lost on them because they were so inculcated by Turkish culture that they are unaware of the differences because they are saying one word in English and thinking it is equivalent in Turkish. Would this be considered 'code switching.'? This is a question for some of my linguist friends.

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 6

Imdat .. Imdat... My apartment building is on fire
Early one morning, when I was living in Büyükçekmece, I awoke with the smell of smoke. There was still some apartment buidings that still burned coal so I thought really nothing of it. Then, I realized that this was a very strong smell. I went to my door and opened it. The hallway was filled with smoke. I went to my balcony and looked down and smoke was coming from the apartment two floors down. At this point, I had very few words in my Turkish vocabulary.. but I remember the one for help—imdat.
I yelled this out and fortunately some people heard me, saw the smoke and started to call on their cell phones. Soon the manager of the apartment came and motioned me to come down. I used whatever Turkish was at my disposal at this time and sign language (not official) to indicate that I could not because of the smoke. The firemen were there surprisingly soon. I covered my mouth with a towel and they escorted me down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs was the electricty box. It had completely burned. The backing was not metal, but wood. Sub-standard electrical wiring is common in apartments in Turkey, although it varies by the age of the building. (I learned about the standard of electrical wiring when the plug of my electric heater burned the plug. Electrical smoke is distinctive and not very pleasant. It lingered around the apartment for hours.)

I was asked when I was at entrance of the apartment outside if I wanted to go to hospital. I said I was fine. They urged me and they put me an emergency van and drove me just a few blocks to the public hospital (devlet hastani-in Turkish state hospital.) This was my first and last visit to this hospital, as I saw what those without state or private insurance had to suffer. I was escorted directly to the emergency room. I was in a room where there were a variety of people. I was put on a respirator and then asked if I wanted an injection. Seeing the place and sensing that this was not the best organized place, I declined. Outside there were twenty to thirty queuing for the doctors. Well this not much different, in the States, but this was an actual line. Nobody was too much concerned with me or other patients. One assistant was going through the area asking if there was some sugar for his tea. Next to me, there was an older woman from east Turkey who was sick and blowing mucus out of her nose. I could see another who was just brought in on a bed and relatives were beside her. Then they brought in a young boy who had a cast and they had to remove it. All the time, he was crying... anne, anne (mother, mother) in a pitiful voice. It was a circus. Soon one of the research assistants came, I had called him. As soon as I was able, I quickly left this place. For a good two hours, I was taken to official doctors to confirm that I was not affected by the fire and to the police station by the research assistant. Later, I was put up in a dormitory while they were getting my apartment cleaned up after the fire. After this I immediately bought a used cell phone and vowed only to visit private hospitals. In retrospect, although the state hospitals are far from the best, health care is free for everyone.

In the U.S., which can afford to give adequate public health car for those who are uninsured (which are now not only those chronically unemployed and the working poor, but now many in the middle class), even basic public health care is unavailable. It is valiant that Obama is trying to reform health care in the U.S., but it looks as this will be another failed attempt to reform health care in the U.S., blocked by the powerful lobbies of the AMA, drug companies and insurance companies. Obama needs to take this to the people and not bother with trying to compromise with the Congress, who are heavily influenced by these lobbies. Actually, this was stated by a Bill Maher, the irreverent pundit, on a recent episode of Connan O'Brian, which in Turkey may be a couple of days or weeks delay from the original airing. (I find Bill Maher and Jon Stewart, a pleasant relief from the myriad of red faced commentators who are hawking the same worn-out pablum that we have been fed for years. Guess you can tell, I am not a Republican, but I can not be put in with the lot of traditional liberals. I would describe myself as a Progressive. We need someone like Robert LaFollete again. )

Gel Bakim, My bird..Boncuk
Just recently, I bought a bird.. a small parakeet. I would never think that I would own a bird, but I had one. Now, I am not big on pets. I like dogs, but never wanted to keep care of one. So, a bird is fairly low maintenance, but none the least a wonderful pet. While in Istanbul, I have experienced things that I never thought I would and these experiences have been very much of my continuing personal development. These types of birds, are more intelligent than I could ever have imagined. Jane Goodall on a recent segment of BBC's Hardtalk, stated that her most recent campaign was the protection of all sentient beings. (For those interested, the link for the Jane Goodall Institute is located at: . I could definitely state that my bird, a male, is a sentient being. I had to give him away before I left. As of this writing, this is first day for six months , I have not awakened to this chirps. This is because in the morning, all the other birds would chirp and he would answer back. For a while, he had some regular visitors which were a group of three small birds, presumably females. He was making a variety of sounds. I am sure that he was talking to them in his own language. He would often come up with chirps that were obvious imitations of other birds. This was purely for his own amusement. Another quite interesting thing was that he would be quite all day and then you turned on the television and he would start chirping in a variety of manners. It was not certain that he was imitating the voices or sounds, but sometimes he seemed to imitate the rhythm of the sounds. Whatever it was, there was no doubt he was having fun. He loved to get out of the cage, but never went very far. When I would take him to other places in the house, he was visibly nervous. We all like our comfortable surrounding or our territory. When I was leaving, he would being chirping in very accented and short don't go. Lately, he was getting around the printer of my computer, hiding behind it and then peering around the corner, almost like a child who was playing with a parent. He was a joy and I will miss him as I have never bonded with an animal like this. What was interesting was even though the awareness of animals is not the same as ours, there is often a sense of communication between us and them that is very real. Sometimes, you feel that they are teaching you. In my case, Boncuk was reaching out to me in his own way. Too bad all those days of repeating things--I spoke to him in Turkish--he never repeated. Well, I think I heard him say his name one time..but that might have just been my imagination. Knowing him, he could probably repeat them, he just was not inclined to do so. Sometimes, he might have been repeating them at a higher pitch and rapidly...but this is probably just my assumptions. I know that for my readers, this is not exactly about my experiences in Istanbul. However, the mourning for the loss of friends and animals (as in this section) from your everyday life is a part of the process of leaving any place and of adjustment to a new one.

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 5

Anastasian Wall
This ancient wall is located about 40 kilometers from the center of Istanbul. I have been associated with research related to this wall for the past two years. Also, there will hopefully be a documentary forthcoming about this which I am the creative consultant and chief scriptwriter. This project started by me searching on the web concerning archeological ruins in the Istanbul area. I stumbled upon a webpage concerning the Anastasian Wall (see ). Because of my interest in Remote Sensing (interpretation of aerial photographs and satellite images) and archeology, and history, I started to investigate the area using a high resolution image and a image processing program (ERDAS). This led to starting on a documentary with a colleague of mine. After hearing about this project, some friends of mine also became fans of the Anastasian Wall. The reasearch assistants at the department “caught the bug” too and have been involved with in writing and researching for several articles and conference proceedings. I have traveled there related to the documentary, research and with students numerous times. I have also other vistaed other archaeological sites nearby in Trakya (Thrace) This formed the basis of one blog: The Anastasian Wall Research Group ( and one Facebook group-Friends of Trakya. It went beyond just research, but became a labor of love which I hope I can still manage to still be involved in after I depart.

I read all I could about early Byzantium, poured over images for hours and planned additional trips to the Wall and other sites with friends and research assistants. While I was heavy into this research, the Byzantine era became more important that current news. In fact, for me they were more interesting and exciting. I was totally absorbed into this project. Anastasius, Justinian, Procopius and Theodosia became household words with those associated with these projects. IF you are interested further more information can be found on the previously mentioned blogs. The ultimate outcome of these projects is to create a sustainable protection corridor and historic park around the Wall and have it designated a UN historical site. My hope is that others will pick up this cause and one day this will become a reality before the Wall is destroyed by suburbanization and other modern forces.

The Dogs of Istanbul
You don't see much cats, but you do see dogs. There is no lease law..well not an enforced one.. so dogs run wild here. They are all over my neighborhood. However, they are regulated by the government. The are neutered and given shots. They are happy beings as a rule. They are well fed by the neighborhoods. They form groups and sometimes take roles in protection of people that feed them and give them attention. It is interesting. A friend of mine when walking used to regularly feed a certain group of dogs. They would also be in the same area, as a rule. There were three of them...all males with one leader. The others were his flunkies and followers. He would always be the first to be allowed to eat and then they would be allowed the left overs. They would then follow us around the neighborhood like companions. Sometimes, they would follow me after I my friend had continued to his house. They went ahead , but if I slowed down they were aware and also slowed down. They often accompanied me right to the door of my apartment building. Sometimes, they were not in their territory, but they were able to placate by cowering and by other signals that I was not aware and pass without incident

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 4

Aya (Hagia) Sofia and Sultan Ahmet
Two of the most amazing monuments in Istanbul. There they are facing each other over the centuries, competing with each other. Aya (Hagia) Sofia or Saint Holy Wisdom is over 1,500 years old and still standing. Before the Vatican, before Notre Dame, before Westminster Abby, before the Sagrada Famila, there was Aya Sofia. It was the model to be duplicated throughout the centuries and surpassed. It was the symbol of Orthodoxy before the conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Fatih Mehmet. Still, after all these years, the symbolism of this edifice is still lingering. When, the Pope visited Istanbul to meet with the Orthodox Patriarch, the media were watching to see if the Pope would pray in the Church. He did not for do so would have caused turmoil in the Middle East. Before that, several young Muslim men decided to pray in Aya Sofia. They were detained. Aya Sofia is now a museum. Before it was one of the chief mosques in Istanbul, during the Ottoman times. Built by Justinian in the 6th Century, it remains as one of the most amazing architectural monuments in the world. Before the Vatican, it was the largest church and had the largest dome.

Now when you go into it, it is cavernous and somewhat lifeless. There are still phenomenal mosaics, but they are just a piece of what was there before the Crusader's looted it and the rest of the city. You have to have a good imagination to make this somewhat sterile environment come to life. I always imagine that on special occasions that there would be chanting, the swell of incense, and the royal family looking down at the spectacle. This is where the Emperors were crowned and where the high holidays were celebrated. It was site where 'heritics” were killed because of their errant beliefs. Then in the Ottoman times, this was one of the major mosques which rivaled Sultan Ahmet, Suleymania, Fatih and Eyup.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque is an active mosque. It has not the sterile environment of Aya Sofia. One thing that makes the difference is the light. The mosque is designed to be lit by natural light. It is commonly referred to as the Blue Mosque because of the blue Iznik tiles. Iznik tiles were made only in Iznik (former Nicaea of the Nicean Creed). Everyday it is filled with tourists gazing up at the dome. You feel somewhat daunted by its size.
However, besides these descriptions as there are much better ones in guide books, this area has been part of my activities while in Istanbul. This is what happens when you live in a place and are not just a tourist. However, you feel like a tourist here, more than any place else. As you go by a restaurant, always the hawker outside stating something like “My friend, come inside”. And..if you dare look at the menu, you will be sorry because before you know it you are being led inside. Out of principle, I don't even bother with places where I am being pressured. I have a couple of favorite places in the are and do not bother with the rest. This was the area that I first stayed in as a tourist about ten years ago and I always try to find the hostel I stayed in but it is gone I think. Once when several of my friends were visiting and buying tourist gifts, a man approached us and stated “Are you from America?” My normal inclination is to just not say anything and keep on walking. My friend stated to me, 'You are so rude (under her breath). Well, he proceeded and at the end of his diatribe...”I have a carpet shop, not very far away from here...maybe you would like to visit?”. I said to my friend, I told you. This was mild. Some can be abrasive, if you refuse to make a comment and ignore them. In Aksaray, not very far away (but a different atmosphere) they switch to Russian, since there are many Russians who come there for business. In the central area (called the Golden Horn), if you walk a few blocks in any direction the neighborhoods change in character. The natives are very much aware of this and one does not need to say more the name of the neighborhood and its context..positive and negative.
It follows, if I discuss Sultan Ahmet/Aya Sofia area, I have to discuss Aksaray. Maybe later, I will discuss Kumkapı because it is also an interesting area but often overlooked. I was planning to do an article on this area, but now I must concentrate on other things. Maybe in a further section, I will extract some of the article for the readers of this blog.

Aksaray is the transportation hub of the area. It is where you transfer to the Metro or tram. It is not my most favorite place in Istanbul, as there are too many people, pick pockets and some pretty shady looking people. Plus, it is not the most pedestrian friendly place. Many places are not in Istanbul, but this is the subject of another section so I will discuss this later. I used to meet a friend at the simit place in the area. (A simit is kind of a big bread stick for those readers unfamiliar with Turkey. I am not a big fan of simit unless it is warm and fresh.) At this place, you could watch the variety of people passing between the Metro and the tramway. This was usually the meeting place for my friend and I to take John Freely's book Strolling Through Istanbul and discover Istanbul. This is an excellent book. The most detailed one I know on Istanbul. I would have never known about some of the details of Istanbul without it. (One of my planned projects...well real long term one... would have been to create a Geographic Information System for the Golden Horn and Galata with descriptions and coordinates so that they could be used in a navigator system (GPS). I hope that someone else will do this later.) Other than a meeting place and a place to change transportation modes, I really don't like this area. In the last two years, I have found ways to avoid going through this area.
Aksaray is one of the most diverse areas in Istanbul. Other areas were historically diverse, but now they are just shadows of their past. Aksaray has a mixture of populations living and working in the area. There are large populations of Russians and others from the Caucasian regions (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia). Most of these have come since the end of the Cold War and are primarily involved in the textile business in this area. It starts in the area of Lalali and ends at Kumkapı. (Probably, doen't mean much to those unfamiliar with Istanbul. But, trip to Google Earth might help. I looked for a good map of Istanbul showing the neighborhoods, but could not find one. I could prepare one later, if I can find time.)

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 3

Well, as long as the juices are following, I am cranking out these vignettes. They would be better sometimes with photo or even videos, but I let will let my readers fill in there own mental pictures and videos. Those that have lived in Istanbul, have their own images and stories. I welcome their comments and their stories. For those that have not visited or lived in Istanbul, hopefully one day you too can create your own memories. In the meantime, think of it as a meze (Turkish for appetizers). If you see any similarities in these snippets, it is not by design...well maybe there is some chaotic design...but this is going in another direction which we may not want to go at this time. And we won't. So without further commentary, her is my third, but not final installment.

A Ride on a Dolmuş (pronounced Dolmush)
This is better than almost any roller coaster, much more dangerous, but cheaper. Dolmuşes (well this is the Anglized plural, the Turkish would be dolmuşlar) are really only the designated yellow vans in the central part of the city on the European and the Asian side. However, people in my area call a mini-bus a Dolmuş too, but this is not correct technically. It is confusing to the novices, they generally start at one place, like in Taksim (the center of Istanbul) and then go to different places depending on the sign on the window of the bus or sometimes you have to ask. You pay the amount by the distance of the place you are going. But, there is no meter, you just ask how much and pass the money to the driver. It is kind of a communal thing. If you are picky about being around people that are perspiring, particularly in summer, then this should not be your mode of transport. But, you will be perspiring too, so join the crowd. I try to not be too stinky by wearing some body spray, which may be worse.. but nobody has said anything so far... or they may be too polite. (I once was told by a clerk that I could not sample the body spray in a grocery store in my area. Just for that, I just didn't buy any. Showed her.) After you pay, you hold on and it moves in and out of traffic, stops suddenly, the driver honks at other vehicle while he is lighting up his cigarette, races once there there are openigs, cuts off other vehicles and then when you are ready to get off you politely state, inecek var.. which means there is a person to get off. ( A friend of mine whose Turkish was somewhat limited.. said dur, dur.. which is saying stop, stop.. to get a bus driver to stop, which is not the kindest way to but it works.) Afterwards, you catch your breath and thank God you survived, but somewhat invigorated from the rush of the experience. Now, I somewhat embellished this story for entertainment purposes, but those who have been on a dolmus, know that this is not far from the truth.

If you live in Istanbul for more than six month and you hang around with turks and foreigners, your language becomes peppered with Turkish words. This might be a typical sentence for a yabanci-foreigner...I am going down to the bacal to get some ekmek, gorusunuz. This means.. I am going down the grocery store to get some bread, see you later. Olemi?, which means 'really?' in Turkish..well I use it a lot. I caught myself saying this when I was in the U.S., but everyone seemed to understand. Another word which seem to be stock for all ex-pats is tamam (OK or that's right.) As you used in a sentence.. Tamam, I want bir tane of patlacan. Which means. “OK, I want a little more eggplant”. One common discussion among ex-pats is about their aiydat or if their flat has a combi or Aygaz. (Aiydat is the apartment's maintainance fee, which varies month by month. A combi is a small water heater that heats the apartment and provides hot water. Aygaz means the gas that is provided into your house by a particular company. Trying to get gas into my first apartment was an ordeal that lasted almost four months. My introduction to Turkish bureaucracy. I swore after this that I will never have an apartment in Istanbul without heat. My second one had central heat. And last, all ex-pats talk about their kopaci, the live-in maintenance man. Statements like: “My kopaci's wife is so nosy about when I come and go; My kapaci always is asking if I need something from the bakal; Yesterday, my kapaci asked if I had some whiskey around..hinting that he would like all yabanci's are alcoholics or drinkers. A related but free-associaton comment.. One time I was having field trip and we ended up in Taksim (the historic European center). One of my students stated, “This is your place”. Meaning that Taksim was mainly populated by decadent foreigners. Every time, I go to Taksim I remember this comment. While there are “decadent foreigners” on the streets of Taksim, they are far out-numbered by Turks, who may or may not be decadent.

There is no city in the world that has one center that so dominates it as Taksim.. or so it seems.
Taksim is the cultural and “main street” for Istanbul. It is named after a water reservoir (taksim) that is on the northern part of the main street of the area, Istiklal Caddesi, formerly named Rue de Pera.
It has an interesting history. This has been designated the European area of Istanbul. The street where all the Embasies of foreigner powers were located during late Ottoman times. Now, they are consulates and a reminder of Istanbul's role in the twilight of the Ottoman Empire. In the area are churches and synagoges, but only a reminder of the once vibrant multi-cultural flavor of Istanbul. A fin de siècle aura surrounds these buildings to those who can not only see a city, but can sense its soul.

Back to the's Taksim is where one can see all the foreigner restaurants, go to clubs, see theater or concerts, and visit art galleries. On Istiklal is where one finds trendy and not so trendy stores, cafes stylish restaurants and of course crowds. It seems on some days, that all of Istanbul has decided to walk down Istiklal. However, no matter how much one raves about Istiklal and declares it the 'cool' street in Istanbul, the posh shops and restaurants, have moved to other areas, such as Etiler, and Bebeck overlooking or on the Bosporus, where the newly rich now reside. Those with old money live in Mecidiyeköy and Nişantaşı with a little nicer stores and malls. The rich have mostly moved out of the area. There is some gentrification around the area which is now being seen. Taksim is somewhat living in the past when there were nearby upscale neighborhoods. Nearby are crumbling mansions that onced housed the rich or at least upper middle class. This is true of Tarlabaşı which was once one of the most richest neighborhoods housing prosperous Greeks, but now is one of the most notorious, housing immigrants from eastern Turkey and those on the margins of society. However, among the seediness, the plethora of kebab places, the clubs, the tea houses, the trendy store, there is an energy which pulsates through the streets making you vibrant. Perhaps, it the moving parade of people or the bombardment of sights, sounds and smells that explain this. But, to over-intellectualize it ruins the mystery and enjoyment of Taksim.

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 2

The Only City in the World that Spans Two Continents
This seems to be the mantra of Istanbul. It often proclaims itself as the bridge between East and West. These as both boosterism statements and need qualification. Being a geographer, definitions between regions are innately fuzzy. That Europe stops at one side of the Bosporus and Asia begins on the other is arbitrary. There is physically only one continent and that is the Eurasian continent if one defines a continent as one contiguous land mass that is a tectonic plate. If we consider a continent, as a physical barrier separating cultures, there also a problem with this as well. Societies from Asian and Europe have been migrating, invading, and sharing cultures for several thousands years. The Bosporus does not fit that characteristic. So, the symbol of bridges that promoters often use is purely metaphorical and has no substance. It is an intellectual vortex that traps all who enter and attempt to place any more meaning than one that is superficial.

However, on the local and regional aspect, the Bosporus is a barrier that has shaped the urban structure of Istanbul. All those from Istanbul, refer to the European and Asian side of Istanbul in reference to where they live. The European side is generally the industrial and cultural core of Istanbul, while the Asian is a residential suburb of the European core. It still represents a major barrier for movement, despite two bridges spanning this waterway. The Bosporus is the reason for the significant ferry movement from one side to another. These ferries are part of the unique character of Istanbul and and shapes its citizens' perception of the city. It is also where some of the most prosperous areas are found.

The Bosporus:The Real Treasure of Istanbul
Besides from the metaphorical use of the Bosporus for whatever purpose. It is truly the 'branding' of the city. Despite trying to have Hagia Sofia or Sultan Ahmet Mosques ('The Blue Mosque') as symbols of Istanbul, they are over shadowed by the beauty of this strait. It is wonderful in the daytime with the hills surrounding it and with the parade of ships going up and down it. At night, it is still a wonderful thing. It never ceases to amaze me and take hold of me. Before I leave, I must take one last cruise down it with the 'ghosts” of old mansions, palaces of various Sultan's families, and the Ottoman fort built before the Fall of Constantinople. Other places may have beautiful scenery, but there is only one Bosporus.

Inside the Walls
You know when you have entered Istanbul when you have passed through the gates of the Theodosian Wall. Erected in the early part of the first millennium by the Emperor Theodosius and later maintained by other Byzantine/Late Roman Emperor, it represents one of the few standing ancient city walls in the world. These walls define Istanbul just as much as the Bosporus. There is a feeling when you past through the walls and you know that many others have before you, some much more illustrious than you. The traffic in and out of the walls betray the grandeur of the place, making you realize that most do not wonder or think about them. To them, they are just there.

A Farewell to Istanbul: Part 1

As I end my stay in Istanbul, it is time to reflect briefly on my observations while living here as an urban planner, urban geographer and transportation planner. Over the next couple of weeks, while not packing up and sending out my curriculum vita , I will be writing my thoughts about my stay here. These are strictly my opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you have comments, please write your comments below. I would be interested in reading them.

Rootlessness and Lack of Civic Pride
I was always amused when strangers asked me where I was from (yes, I know one should not end a sentence with a preposition). I originally stated U.S.A., but then realized that I was a resident of Istanbul and responded Istanbul. I came to find out that all residents of Istanbul ask Turks too the same question. It appears that nobody is from Istanbul, they all hail from some other area, even if they were born in Istanbul. The consequence is that nobody in Istanbul takes pride in living here. It is sometimes perceived as a place where one can make money and then move back to one's hometown in Anatolia. In other countries, there is a pride in saying they are from a certain major city. Living in cities like New York, London, Paris, Rome. Charleston, San Francisco, Barcelona, Madrid, Mexico City, Rio de Janerio, Milan or Berlin often means to those not from those cities that one has obtained a level of urbanity. Orhan Pamuk stated in his autobiographical book, Istanbul that residents in Istanbul have a collective melancholy or "hüzün" from a sense of having their status as a world capital removed from them by having the capital relocated to Anakara. This was discussed in one of my articles as well.

The Problem of Being a Megalopolis
Istanbul's population is one of the largest in Europe, ranking with London and Moscow. Its population is officially 10 million, but the actual population is estimated to be 15-20 million due to the amount of residents that do not report to the government as having residence in Istanbul. This is for tax reasons. I have never seen how much taxes are lost to Istanbul because of people not reporting taxes for property in Istanbul, but it must be in the millions per year.
Its size is also impressive. It takes two hours by automobile to go from one end to the other. A rough estimate would be Istanbul's length is approximately 100 kilometers. The congestion is chronic and the public tranport system is inadequate. It is getting better. Howver, for decades the congestion caused by increasing automobile ownership has been ignorned. However, despite the massive investment in new heavy and light rail and a tunnel linking the European and Asians sides, they will make the situation slightly better.

An Urban Flaneur Guidebook???

What is this? The title of the blog is an oximoron. A guidebook for an urban flaneur would be one with just impressions or blank. An urban flaneur disdains the idea that one can incapsulate a city into a select item of interest. In this light, I am lauching this new blog. A blog about experiencing the city in its totality.

This idea sprung when I saw that my urbanism blog ( had taken a detour with my posting on my reflections of my time in Istanbul, titled "A Farewell to Istanbul". Therefore, I will be transferring this section of the "Urbanism Blog of Dr. Michael A. McAdams" as soon as I can determine the best format for this body of work. My urbanism blog will revert to a more academic tone as it was originally intended.

I would also welcome others who consider themselves urban flaneurs to send me their impressions of cities they have either visited or reside. This can also include photographs with comments.

Overall, the purpose of "An Urban Flaneur Guidebook" is to reflect the dynamic, exciting and chaotic nature of cites.