Wednesday, January 28, 2009

neydim degil ne olacagim demeli... 2 / man muss nicht sagen was ich geworden bin sondern was ich sein werde 2

neydim degil ne olacagim demeli... 1 / man muss nicht sagen was ich geworden bin sondern was ich sein werde 1

2005 2007 2008



Stories of a Visa Application - Part VIII: Conclusion

For the time being, this chapter closes with the following:

I hope that anyone who has been going through the same stages will get what they wanted. I hope that there will be less suffering due to heavy limitations of freedom of movement, I will continue to hope for less borders and for people to have more peaceful and calm mindsets, not overwhelmed with security freaks. I will not only hope for this, but I will also work for this as long as I am the guy whose stories of one visa application hereby terminates with this chapter...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stories of a Visa Application - Part VII: Change!

At last, everything will be revealed tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stories of a Visa Application - New Information

Part VII:
I have probably become the 'biggest fan' of the World Bridge Visa Information Services website which is the agency that forwards my visa application to the UK Consulate.

Today I found out that they have put a link to a new 'guide to visa processing times' published by the UK Home Office for all applications all around the world. It can be found at this link.

Before this guide came out I had always been told it takes around 3 weeks (or 20 working days). Now, according to this data, there were only 3 applications to the visa I have applied for from Istanbul in December 2008.

0% of the 3 applications were decided neither within 5 or 15 working days.
100% of the 3 applications were decided within 30 working days.

So, it is 15-30 working days. That is a 15 working days of ambiguity between the two numbers. That is 3 weeks of your precious time whereby you can't make further short-term plans about your life.

Today was my 18th working day since I sent my documents to World Bridge, and probably 17th working day since they forwarded them to the UK Consulate.

Who knows how long it will take? Who knows what were the decisions for those 3 applications, and what will it be for mine?

Oh, maybe Obama knows this, too?

In any way, let me hope for the best and hope for better for those who have suffered much worse from restrictions such as these, countable not only by weeks, but months, years or even lifetimes...

Monday, January 19, 2009

BoltArt -- Guncel, gorsel sanatlar tanitma ve tartisma platformu

Again, one for the Turkish readers...

Kasim ayinin ortasi itibariyle acilan ve giderek genisleyip gelisen BoltArt'i tekrar huzurlarinizda tanitmak istedim. New York'tan Merve Unsal, Guney Cuceloglu ve Ozge Ersoy'un baslattigi bir blog sitesi olan BoltArt, aylik olarak guncellenen yazilar ve siklikla guncellenen ufak haberlerle, bunyesinde sergi yazıları, proje tanıtımları, denemeler, röportajlar ve fotoğraf projelerine yer vermeyi amaclayan site, kurucularinin tabiriyle "görsel sanatlar, performans sanatları, tasarım, mimari ve sanat felsefesine duyduğumuz tutkumuzu Türkçe olarak paylaşabileceğimiz online bir platform".

Benim yazdigim yazi bahane, sitede cok siki yazilar var. i ziyaret etmeyi unutmayin...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

No real chance of incentive for Obama in the Middle East, for the time being

I was arguing recently that the Israeli offensive over Palestine would stop a day or two before Obama's first day at the White House. Today, a ceasefire has been announced and whether this holds for a mid to long term or not is unclear, it leaves Obama without a clear chance to voice his opinions over the issue. This is, I believe, what he and the Israelis could agree the most easily on. I actually believe this is a move by Israel, to relieve pressure on Obama.

Now that the offensive is over for the time being, Obama will not be asked the following question:
"What action will you consider concerning the war in Palestine?"

The Jewish lobby may or may not have a superior influence over Obama, just yet. If Obama were to be asked this question, he would either have to give away from the global support he receives and the hopes of those wishing for peace and stability in the Middle East. The other option would be to denounce the Israeli politics, which Obama would not necessarily like to do, or not even have the incentive to do so.

In this case, one can imagine a mid-term ceasfire whereby Obama will be allowed to elaborate on his prior issues such as the global financial crisis. In the meanwhile, Israel will hold its national elections and probably seek to calm the waters until the next time when they can have a more soumd (or silenced, shall I say?) support from Obama for their next move.

Discussions will follow over the course of the next few days, and I am not expecting another offensive for Israel at the moment, despite what their population is feeling. In the end, does anyone really have the incentive to do anything about what the subjects of the offenders, and the sluaughtered have been feeling?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stories of a Visa Application - Part VI: Detained

New Information:
A sunny day it was today, where the high peak reached 16 Degrees Celsius.

Of a very unlikely nature for Istanbul, the night temperature will be around 4 Degrees, a sharp drop from the day.

My feelings fluctuated during the day quite dramatically, too. I had booked my return flight to London today, for 15 January.

Eagerly refreshing visa application webpage and submitting the long application code (csc-tr-....) that could be anything from the registry code of a machinery in an abandoned ex-Soviet power plant somewhere in the midsts of a cold Russian town to the barcode on a piece of garbage of a sweet chocolate bar you have just thrown away... I submit the code and all I get is the same message.

"Documents arrived at the Visa Section".

My flight has just left and I am still looking at the island on the map.

Or... maybe it doesn't even exist there on the map anymore... as was the case with the controversial art piece this Czech artist created for the official launch of Czech Presidency of the EU. The EU or the UK... Seem like distant trails on some maps coloured a sinister red, by some sinister ministers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Italian shoes with no laces

Frost/Nixon was premièred for London audience at the London Film Festival in November 2008. I missed it. Richard Nixon has been of great interest to me. I had written a 20-page article about the foreign policies of the US during Richard Nixon's presidency between 1969-1974. The controversial Watergate brought Nixon down from the presidency, but the interviews held with Nixon after his presidency had caught little attention from me. Frost/Nixon is a brilliant film, set around the interview attempt of an English journalist David Frost with Richard Nixon in the spring of 1977.

Richard Nixon was an ambitious lawyer who was brought up under hardships. He was Eisenhower's Vice-President but when he ran for his own presidential campaign in 1960, he had JFK up against him. The first-ever broadcast presidential debate in the US TV history brought the bright young JFK against and old, experienced but uncharming Nixon. Nixon would try his chance again only in 1968 after having lost to JFK in 1960 but he would forever keep the depression of his uncharming personality. He would, in stead, build a self-confidence, that of an army man, made of steel but fragile with regards to its foundations.

David Frost was an ambitious journalist who is portrayed as a young, charming, not-so-intellectual but a successful talk-show host in the film. After discovering Nixon was pardoned by his successor, President Gerald Ford, Frost decides to challenge Nixon on a TV interview. Also fuelled by one of his researchers he hires for the job, and against the lack of financial support for his project, Frost is determined to put Nixon down to his knees in front of the TV audience and snatch a 'public apology' from him. Ford wanted Nixon to feel as challenged and overwhelmed as JFK made him feel back in the early 1960's. The tensions between the two, the portrayal of the ambitions of the two men, the representation of the 1970's USA are cleverly displayed in this film.

A small but remarkable detail of the film is Nixon's obsession with the Italian style shoes without laces that Frost is wearing. Although Nixon is comforted by his personal adviser that Italian shoes without laces are very effeminate and that they would not suit Nixon, the audience is kept on their nerves with the symbolism of Nixon's insecurity over his own appearance with the shoe detail...

Today I met a friend from high school, M. and her mother at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University for a lovely lunch that inspired a lot about issues dealing with urban policies. As the usual case with earlier generations advicing on the younger ones, the conversation came to a point where young ones like us are being looked upon to bring important change to the current discussions. At some point M. reminded that there is way too many people these days who claim they 'want to be Prime Ministers or some other important people'. She gave the example of a friend of hers to conclude:

"Huh! You think he can make a Prime Minister... with those Italian shoes of his?!"

I dedicate this text to M., and advice her to watch Frost/Nixon as soon as possible! =)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Story of Hamburg and Altona in Istanbul (English) -- Istanbul'daki Hamburg ve Altona'nin Hikayeleri (Turkce)

This entry is bilingual.
Bu yazi hem Ingilizce, hem Turkce'dir. Turkce metin icin asagi satirlara bakiniz.


The German High School of Istanbul (Deutsche Schule Istanbul) lies in a very central location, around the Tunel-Galata neighbourhoods of Beyoglu District. This area (referred to as 'Pera' in the Ottoman times) is full of history as it has been the 'modern' central district of Istanbul, being homes to many Jewish, Armenian and other non-Muslim communities, whereas the historical peninsula, consisting of Eminonu and Fatih regions are the 'traditional' central districts. Beyoglu district hosts many churches, most of which are Christian Orthodox but a few Catholic ones can also be found, as well as other historical institutional landmarks and some of the prettiest architectural sites. The German influence in the area is much less compared to that of the Armenian, Greek, Jewish, or the more contemporary French influences. However, apart from the German High School, there are two other landmarks that I have been curious about in the last few years. Today I found out about 2 stories, that are to do with the names of these 2 places: Altona Bufe, and Hamburg Kiraathanesi (also called "Hamburg Cafe").

When you walk towards the Galata Tower from the Tunel Square, on the left is the Altona Bufe, a small shop that sells chicken doner for 1 Turkish Lira (equivalent of 0.5 Euros) and some rice to go with it. It was initially a 'pilavci' (a rice-shop) and was turned into a full-catering doner-pilav shop over the last few years. When I approached the guy behind the doner to enquire about where the name comes from, he gave me the following answer:

- There is this guy, that comes and eats from us once in a while. 2 years ago, he told me he is from Hamburg Altona. You know, it's a place name. In Altona, he has a 'pilavci' (rice shop) just like mine, and he is also from Sivas, just like me. He doesn't speak Turkish anymore but he told me 'why don't you have a name for your shop? why don't you call it Altona?'. That's where the name comes from.

This was rather different than what I expected. I was expecting at least to hear some crazy story about the owner of the shop being from Altona and missing the Turkish community in that Hamburg neighbourhood, or a story in which the shopkeeper was a fan of Fatih Akin (who is also from Altona) or has met him there (that would actually be my story if I opened a shop and called it Altona)... In fact, this was rather a dull story which I had to walk away with.

However, the second story is a bit more interesting:

When you walk up towards Tunel from Tophane along the famous Kumbaraci Yokusu, on your left-hand side you will notice a well-preserved, remarkable church. It is the Crimea Memorial Church (see the link for a nice image). When you walk into the street where the church is, you will come to the "Hamburg Kiraathanesi" (also named Hamburg Cafe, recently for foreign visitors) at the end of the street. Over the last few years the dilapidated looking 'kiraathane' tried to transform itself into something more appealing. Now it has a wooden exterior that fits better into a countryside concept, but what mattered to me was where the name "Hamburg Kiraathanesi" came from. I found out today:

As I took a picture of the 'kiraathane', the teaman of the kiraathane walked out. I thought "oh, OK, he'll tell me to leave, I'm busted". He actually looked quite cute, a small, chubby Turkish teaman. So I approached him and asked him:

-Hello, can I ask you why this place is called Hamburg Cafe?

His reply was a bit surprising to my liking. He giggled and smiled whilst saying:

- Hehe.. You know.. There is this place called Hamburg... down the road.. (pointing towards the sea). We would not be allowed there we were young (he's about mid 30's to 40's looking). So, we named this place with regards to that. Now we have our own Hamburg, hehe!

This statement, this confession, this admission was so sweet, just like the guy himself, I just could not do anything but smile to my ears.

Of course, down the road, where he pointed towards the sea... are the famous brothels of Karakoy, and god knows who have made their way in through Hamburg of Istanbul...


Alman Lisesi, Beyoglu'nda, Tunel ile Galata mahalleleri arasinda, merkezi bir yerde konuslanmistir. Tarihle dolu Istanbul'un bu 'modern' merkezi eskiden Yahudi, Ermeni, ve diger gayri-Muslimlere ev sahipligi yaparken, sehrin 'geleneksel' merkezi ise tarihi yarimadada, Eminonu ve Fatih ilcelerini kapsayan bolgedeydi. Beyoglu'nda, cogunlugu Ortodoks, az bir kismi da Katolik olan kiliseler disinda, baska tarihsel binalar ve sehrin guzel mimari ornekleri gorebilecegimiz binalar bulunmaktadir. Bolgedeki Ermeni, Rum, Yahudi ve daha modern donemlerdeki Fransiz etkisine oranla bakarsak, Alman etkisi cok dusuk bir seviyededir. Fakat bolgede Alman Lisesi disinda, benim dikkatimi son yillarda ceken ve isimlerinin hikayelerini merak ettigim 2 yer daha vardi: Altona Bufe ve Hamburg Kiraathanesi ('Hamburg Cafe' de deniyor).

Tunel Meydani'ndan Galata Kulesi'ne yururken, solunuzda Altona Bufe'yi goreceksiniz. Eskiden sadece pilavci olan mekan son bir kac yildir 1 TL'ye tavuk doner de satmakta. Donerciye, bufenin isminin nereden geldigini sormak icin yaklastigimda, bana su cevabi verdi:

- Bir adam vardi, gelip boyle bizden yiyordu bir suredir. 2 yil once falan koyduk ismi. Bana Altona'dan oldugunu soyledi, oyle bir yer var. Altona'da onun da bir pilavci dukkani varmis, zaten o da benim gibi Sivasli'ymis. Turkcesi de pek iyi degil artik, dedi ki bu bir gun 'neden isim koymuyorsun dukkana? Altona yapsana ismini?'. Isim buradan geldi iste.

Bu, bekledigimden daha farkli bir cevapti. En azindan daha cilgin bir hikaye taharrur etmistim ismin arkasinda. Mesela dukkan sahibi Altonali olup 'memleket'ini ozlemis olabilirdi, ya da dukkan sahibi bir gun Altona'ya gidip Fatih Akin'la (o da Altonali) falan tanismis olabilirdi (gerci bu daha cok bana uygun bir hikaye olurdu)... Esasen, bekledigimden daha soluk bir hikayeyle uzaklastim oradan.

Fakat, ikinci yerin hikayesi biraz daha ilginc:

Tophane'den Tunel'e dogru, Kumbaraci Yokusu'ndan cikarken, solda iyi korunmus, etkileyici bir kilise goreceksiniz: "Kirim Kilisesi" (resim icin link'e tiklayin). Kilisenin oldugu sokaga girerseniz, sokagin sonunda, sag tarafta Hamburg Kiraathanesi'ne varabilirsiniz (ayni zamanda "Hamburg Cafe" ismi de eklenmis buraya). Son birkac yilda, dokuntu bir kulube seklinde gorunen kiraathaneyi, daha alimli bir goruntuye sahip olmasi icin yenilemisler. Gerci simdi de, ahsap cephesi yuzunden kirsal mekanlara daha uygun bir gorunume sahip olmus. Her neyse, benim derdim ismin nereden geldigi idi:

Kiraathanenin fotografini ceker cekmez, kiraathanenin caycisi disari cikti. "hah tamam simdi bana dellencek" diye dusunuyordum ki, adamin tifil, tombul, cok seker bir tipik Turk caycisi oldugunu farkettim. Yaklasip sordum kendisine:

- Merhaba, bu Hamburg isminin nereden geldigini sorabilir miyim?

Cevabi biraz sasirticiydi. Kikirdadi ve cevabi yapistirdi:

- Hehe.. Biliyorsun... Hamburg diye bir yer var... asagida... (denize dogru olan yonu gosteriyor). Gencken oraya almazlardi bizi (kendisi de 30 sonlari, 40li yaslarda belki). Biz de onun acisini cikarmak icin buraya bu adi verdik. Simdi kendi Hamburgumuz var!

Bu aciklama, bu itiraf o kadar tatliydi ki, ayni adam gibi, yuzumun esneyebildigi kadar, agzimin kulaklarima vardigi derecede gulumsedim.

Tabii ki, o 'asagida', denizi gosterdigi yerde... o unlu Karakoy kerhaneleri vardi, ve kim bilir kimler tutmustu Istanbul'daki Hamburg'un yolunu...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stories of a Visa Application - Addendum: Dreams

 Fast forward to Part IV:
My documents have been at the British Consulate Istanbul for the last 2 weeks, and these last 2 weeks have been entertaining and relaxing after the stress of preparing the application. However, this does not go without saying that everyday I check for the updated status of the application and my unconscious sometimes does prevail at nights over what I try not to think too much during the day.

Last week, I had 3 consecutive nights of dreams about the outcome of the application:

The first day I dreamt that I could not get the visa and I was quite depressed when I woke up. Trying hard not to devastate myself with this, I think I even forgot about the dream during the day (correct me those of you if I told you about this dream that day).

On the second day, I dreamt that I got the visa. This time I told a bunch of people I dreamt these two opposing scenarios back to back in 2 nights.

The third day's dream summed up my mindset:

In the dream I was being entertained on a ferry wheel that reminded me much of the London Eye (good sign 1!). I was talking to my parents and a few friends, also on the ferry wheel but it also felt a bit uncomfortable as the seats we sat on were open on all sides, there was a lot of wind, we were revolving over some huge water and it all felt as if we could fall any time. Anyways, I had 2 passports in my hand. As I was going to find out later, apparently I had 3 passports on me at that moment in the dream. The 2 passports I had in my hand revealed were both brand new, with the blue jacket of the passport and the golden ink on it still fresh. Inside the first one I had a UK Visa, a Schengen visa and even a few stamps from some German passport control gates. This felt as if I was already dreaming of a future with a good-ending. On the second passport, I had nothing. All pages were blank.

When I woke up and thought about the dream, I only took it as a positive one for the sake of that 1 passport with 2 visas in it. I also thought the other new passport was something extra, something that I could probably use if the 1st one was lost or something.

Then... Then I realized later during the day, that, in fact the 2 passports just symbolized the 2 possible outcomes. I had dreamt of each outcome in the preceding 2 nights consecutively, and now on the 3rd night I was dreaming of them both. A combined mind-confuser!!

I think this sums up quite nicely, what my prospects may be and what my approach to the whole thing is. "Up in the air", just the way I was, up in the air, in the dream on that London Eye-like ferry wheel...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A great desire

There are things in life that I have never been able to perform well at. Among these numerous activities, painting is one. Actually, I cannot even draw a proper line. My mother sent me to drawing courses when I was a small child, only to be told that I could not use my fingers properly because I was hyperactive or something. I was never able to write properly neither. I guess it is something one develops with patience. Therefore, I was never a big enthusiast in applied physics neither (although I loved mathematics). I could never dream of becoming an architect, without even developing a proper mindset of thinking beyond double dimensions.

If I could paint, however, I would like to paint the description in the following sentence:

"Acquaintances described Weaver as "basically a loner" who went every day to the counter of a hotel restaurant to eat a sandwich for lunch by himself".

A proud black man with his black suit, white shirt and striped tie, in his mid 50's, gained some weight over the years added to his proud career between the humble liberal idealism and indifferent bureaucratic conformism. He unwraps the package of his egg-mayonnaise sandwich and the gentle wrinkles of his face reflect from the plastic packaging of the sandwich (were there plastic back then, I'm not sure?). A Hopperesque depiction of the decaying loneliness of a key man, the first ever black PhD Economist of the nation...

This quote comes out of an article written about Robert Clifton Weaver, a prominent Afro-American economist of the 20th century who has done important work for non-segregated housing. Thanks to Lara for providing me this article.