Thursday, August 28, 2008

Disserting milk-shake

Writing a dissertation can be quite stressful, yet can boost your creativity at the same time. Why not taste a delicious milk-shake with:
200 ml cold Milk.
1 Banana
1 pre-prepared Coffee (w/ Chocolate Flavour)
1 White-chocolate Waffle snack.

If this looks like your thing, just blend them altogether. The taste is delicious, although it is a bit difficult to "drink".

I am not even going to tell you what my Dissertation is looking like.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nisantasi-Tesvikiye walking excursion

On a thesis-drained day, I've decided to walk around to get my mind away from things. I did a usual walk in the neighbourhoods of Tesvikiye, Nisantasi and Osmanbey. I have been doing these sort of inspirational, get-away walks since early teen years. This time, for a change, I decided to take pictures and present them here. So you can grasp what I saw when I wrote "gri yuruyus" for example.

Tesvikiye and Nisantasi are among the rich parts of Istanbul, first inhabited by Jewish, Greek and Armenian minorities in the 19th century. World-known brand shops, cafés, art centres and high rental rates determine the character of the area. Many of Istanbul's Art Nouveau style buildings are located here (the rest mostly around Beyoglu). The streets are gridded in a very modern approach and in between the high streets are residential areas with small textile and manufacturing shops increasing in numbers towards Sisli area.

Among these is a street that I believe to have made many astral trips to. One day I actually walked into this street, realising I had previously dreamt about it. Most likely scenario is that, I was taken there by my Mother when I was small, and one day in my teen years, I re-visited the place as it is close to where I live and had a false idea. Anyhow, ever since that day, that street has been special for me and many of my unplanned walking routes passed by it. I recognise this street from a bend it takes at the end of it, which is not so special for this area, yet distinctive. It is called Kuyumcu Irfan Sokak.

Irfan Kuyumcu Sokak opens up to the Suleyman Nazif Sokak which is the home for Pangalti Armenian High School, one of the few remaining schools for the few remaining Armenian minorities in Istanbul. Next to the school is a rather funny shoe-store: Nr. 39. The name must come from the door number of the building. Otherwise, I'd doubt all the shoes in this shop to be of size 39.

Suleyman Nazif Sokak opens up to the main street Rumeli Caddesi, one of the long shopping streets of Nisantasi. At the end of Rumeli Caddesi, is the junction with the long and wide Halaskargazi Avenue. An entrace to Osmanbey Underground Station (1 of only 6 underground stops Istanbul currently has) is here. This is the avenue Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was killed tragically. North end of Halaskargazi is Sisli district, the south end is the long Cumhuriyet (Republic) Avenue leading to Taksim Square.

It is Cumhuriyet Avenue I walked home from Taksim for years and years, meeting the regulars of the avenue: Transvestite prostitutes, abandoned cats near the Turkish State Radio (where I check the temperature from its digital display), soldiers guarding the Harbiye Military House asking for cigarettes and whistling away the people standing in front of the military territory, tourists walking into Harbiye Hilton Hotel, the students of Lycée Notre Dame de Sion. Familiar to and walked by only few, it is one of Istanbul's most diverse, controversial, yet enjoyable walks.

I head back via the new, extremely unnecessary and wrong-investment (due to location, accessibility, lack of demand) poshy shopping mall, City's of Nisantasi. After Nisantasi is back to Tesvikiye with the infamous Tesvikiye Mosque, where celebrities are usually mourned and prayed after before their last journey to eternity. You can sit just in front of the mosque entrance gaze at the people pass by into one of the cafés at the end of the day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Battersea: Pigs have flown long ago

London is a spectacular city. It is quite easy for one to wander around and be amazed by the ever-changing typologies of buildings, neighbourhoods, as well as the vast amount of public parks, green-spaces and innovative structures such as the bridges over the river Thames. On any given moment, you will not be able to understand all the conversations taking place but will have the chance to taste all variety of tastes. You might run into a poshy shopper at one end of the city, or watch an old lady carry grocery bags into 30-storey, run-down residence at another end.

If you bike around, it will take matters of minutes to go through different districts that are on their own so diverse that, you will feel you've travelled through cities. London flanerie experiences have been great inspiration to many of my recent writings and there are some that I have been referencing back and forth at. Here's another one I had once mentioned dreaming of visit some months ago at
This is a site going through the project phase of potential regeneration. This site contains one of the most beautiful architectural pieces I have ever seen.

Battersea Power Station was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the same architect who designed Bankside Power Station that was famously transformed into Tate Modern Museum by Herzog & de Meuron and who also designed the famous "red telephone booth". It saw World War II, survived "blitzkrieg" and served electricity to London until 1983.

From whatever side you approach Bankside, you will realise how comfortably and strongly it sits on its location. Last June, I was knocking on the doors of the German Embassy to get a new Schengen visa, making a lot of way into Kensington area of London. In one of these trips, I rode my bike through the red-bricked expensive houses of Chelsea, the crescent rows of beautiful white houses, garden squares, a surprising street-level mews and a more surprising run-down social housing estate. I hit Chelsea Bridge Road, lying down some huge trees, running up a hill into the bizarre Chelsea Bridge, without ever understanding what was awaiting in this rich mix of visual delight. I could have easily crashed into one of the cars on the main road or fell of my bike as I was looking across the Thames which is even wider at Chelsea, putting Battersea at a virtual arms-reach but yet as a decaying temple. Gilbert Scott earns every credit for this temple of modernity, the famous masonry experts of Middle Ages who have built tremendous structures could never get for their anonymous names.

Alternatively, you can take the southern route, following the south bank of the Thames river, across Westminster, Houses of Parliament, through re-generated district of Vauxhall with new residential developments. The southern riverside feels like you are in a totally different country, a sea-side holiday complex with hotel-like houses, especially under decent weather like the day when I visited the site in July. It was opened to public for consultation on re-development (Public viewing as consultation is alone another topic of discussion. I don't if any of this is available in Turkey).

Today, the power station is in a run-down condition and projects to re-develop the power station and the area nearby have failed since 1986 when the station was closed down. Shattered glasses, torn-down walls and decaying status of the building clearly depict the need for work, yet they also create visual spectacles for the lucky visitors.

Today, an Irish development firm is taking big steps to re-generate the site, turning Battersea Power Station into a "shopping mall" and introducing residential development nearby it.

Plans to extend the Northern Line of the London Underground to build a station at Battersea, re-generate the public space around the station and introduction of a ferry-pier look good on paper. Development may mean gentrification, especially in the wake of other river-side developments taking place in nearby areas like Vauxhall, or a successful re-vitalisation of another part of South London. The re-development plan also includes the introduction of a massive residential/recreational are that will be covered with a transparent eco-roof topped with a huge "chimney", resembling that of the Battersea's 4 chimneys, but superseding them by far. This is the most offensive intervention the developers could have come up with, concerns of which can be observed in the faces of the viewers as depicted in the photo below.

It is where the pigs have flown over once. There will be many more pigs, dogs and sheep arriving here on the Underground, but with what is on offer ("The Chimney"), it will be ever more difficult for more pigs to fly over it. Let's hope and try for the best for Battersea. I left the Battersea Power Station site with these thoughts, as a train was approaching the white chimneys of this tired temple.

Life these days... a race run in 9.69 seconds under a heat of 35° Celsius. It consists of 10,000 words of a 555 hectares project with 5 Million m² floor-space, studied in a 20 m² study-space with around a dozen close friends in a city with around a dozen million fellow inhabitants.

Takes some meetings, quite a lot of readings, pdf's, articles and magazines. Plans for vacation, constant distraction , some innovation and a lot of motivation. Or just a bloody deadline.

It is a whole month's process, some fooling around and slow but continuous progress. Needs 500 milligrams of caffeine a day, two pints beer, +3 dB preamp, 60 Kbps download speed. 3 meals a day, 6 hours of sleep, 50 push-ups, 50 pull-ups, shower twice, get the work done and wait for the price.

Can be captured with a 24 frame/second moving-image or a 1/25 shutter speed still-image...

Greetings to all those who share the joy and the misery.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Takes a piss...

It took me 2 boxes of Lebanese Traditional Sweets, 1 box of Turkish Rye Flour Bread Mix, 3 baking cups, 2 blender cups and 1 colander to balance the camera and take a picture of myself posing against the Bosphorus from the balcony of the house. It also took me 2 minutes of failure, 4 minutes of innovation, about 10 minutes of experimentation, 4 times of 6-second exposure, 43.00 mm focal length, f/14 aperture value, a rubber band to fix the failing battery cap of my camera and 12 minutes of late arrival to a meeting up with a friend in the neighbourhood. All was influenced by a thesis-work environment picture taken elsewhere in the continent in a fading sunny sky just about an hour before my efforts. It took hell of a piss out of me to contemplate and compliment to the contemporary art production that D. had sent me.

I left home, met up with C., wandered around to find Monday night bars closed in the neighbourhood, heading off to Taksim to a familiar sight for a couple of hours of "social drinking" and discussions on various issues. A mild and cool night. On the way back I briefly saw V., visiting for a day from Italy. At one point I told her I could not plan as spontaneously and wildly as I used to do in the earlier days. The new responsibilities of life were taking the piss out of me.

A few years back, I had my first walk around Osmanbey, Pangalti and Kurtulus on a random get-away from summer heat depression. I had ended up in narrow streets in the ever-changing topography of Istanbul which is always full of surprises, surpassing kids playing football on an inclining street cut across in the middle by an old, tall plane tree. After G. moved to Kurtulus two years ago, my visits became more frequent, usually ending up back home after a nice walk with a stomach filled with pasta-with-tuna that G. is famous for. Tonight I was really tired and told V. I would take a cab back, but as soon as I stepped outside my walking urges and ruling feet led the way.

After 20 minutes I was 4 apartments up my house on our street to come across a car parked 'fully' on the pavement. The same car was there a week ago and I had duly span its windscreen wiper around as a universal gesture of "please don't park your car and obstruct the pedestrians next time". I hate people blockading public space.

I waited for a few minutes, monitored the street, let the few late-night cabs drive by, pulled down my pants and I took a piss out of this unjust abuse of pedestrian space by peeing on the car.

I walked home, got in the elevator. There was a new carpet laid out on the surface. It felt soft and comforting for my tired feet. I think I did a good job with the picture I tried to take of myself earlier in the night.