Taksim Metro Cat

Over the past few days a video has gone viral (link to the video at the end of this story), showing up on newsfeed on my various social media more than a few times.  That video is the latest kitty internet sensation – Taksim Metro Cat.  A cat that gives no shits about you… or you… or even you!

Taksim kedi

Anyone who has ever visited Istanbul (or Turkey for that matter) knows how much Turkish people just love their kediler.  They are everywhere and they are treated with a lot of love and respect despite the fact that they can go from zero to grade A jerks in a heartbeat.  One of the most famous Türk kedileri is the Hagia Sophia Kedi, a little cross-eyed tabby who is so beloved that he has fan sites where people can upload photos of him.  Now there is another famous kedi here in Turkey.  Introducing Taksim Metro Cat and I had the great pleasure of bumping into her a few times during my week in Istanbul.

She favours two spots.  Both of them extremely inconvenient for the commuter as they are both on upward riding escalators.  Our first encounter was as we stopped to visit the Republic Monument at Taksim Square. There she was, this pretty little calico chilling by the Metro exit, just as she was in that video.  People dodged her as she lay stretched out giving silent, judgmental stares to those who nearly tripped over her. At first, I was worried that she would be trampled but, again as you see in the video, she is totally relaxed and loving the chaos she was causing.

The next time we crossed paths she was inside, again chilling on the upward riding escalator but at least indoors (it was the one day it snowed for a full minute while we were there).  Taksim Metro Cat knew the weather outside was frightful and was very content to sit and be petted as we passed.

The final time we saw Taksim Metro Cat she was doing the lazy cat equivalent of hunting.  You know how they go.  They make a little effort, they do the crazy cry, and then they roll over and let the pigeon continue on its way, oblivious to its close demise.

For those of you who are concerned about her welfare, she is one very happy little cat. A stray animal here in Turkey is not the same as a stray anywhere else.  Here they are loved.  Taksim Metro Cat is very well looked after. Her fur is soft and clean.  Her eyes are bright.  She is quite a tubby girl and I’m pretty sure she has been desexed as her ear was clipped.  On researching Taksim Metro Cat I found there are lots of people who feed her and many photos of her chilling out welcoming the commuters and tourists each day and even you guys are adding photos of her on my FB page.  Okay, maybe she’s not welcoming, rather she is just making a kitty nuisance of herself and having kitty fun tripping unsuspecting people up as they pass. Why does she love the escalator so much?  I’m guessing that grate is warm from the engine underneath. She is quite content.

This is one cool cat people and if any of you happen to be visiting Istanbul go up and introduce yourself.  She might ignore you but at least you can say you had a brush with fame while on your travels!

And today Taksim Metro Cat got her very own report on Anadolu Kedisi.  Click on the link and see all the fabulous photos and the actual video at the bottom.  Like me you will no doubt laugh at the reaction of the woman in the pink joggers “Bu kadar?” Hahaha!

Have you seen the Turkish documentary “Kedi”?  If not, you should grab a copy today –

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My Inspiration

Sunrise is my favourite time of day.  I am definitely a morning person and am usually pretty knackered and ready for bed and a good book quite early in the evening.  I take a photo of the sunrise from the terrace most mornings.  I don’t know why.  I guess seeing Mother Nature using her colour palette always amazes me.  She brings all variations of pink, blue, orange and yellow to the early morning. I can sit back and watch the village begin its day in peace and quiet.  Looking at the sky I can guess that it will probably be warm again.  Winter has gone bye-bye and it’s already starting to heat up.  No snow on the mountains behind me either so I’m guessing it’s going be a long, hot summer.  Again.

sunrise

My Istanbul posts are still brewing and I’ve been busy editing the first few chapters of Salep and Ginger in an effort to get it out before summer and can I just say … editing is awful, fecking awful. I mean don’t get me wrong my editor is great and really supportive but when you get down to the nitty-gritty of writing it’s not just me typing whatever comes into my head anymore its punctuation and grammar and consistency.  Sentence structure, story structure.  The rhythm of the story.  Even the font and spacing.  All of it matters.  And I am glad.  I want my manuscript to be the best that it can be.  So now I have to think!  God forbid!!

Time to jump to it … before real life catches up. If you are thinking of visiting Turkey this summer why not grab a travel book to give you some inspiration


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Museum of Innocence

“It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it.”

I first read the Orhan Pamuk’s novel the Museum of Innocence in 2011.  It is the tale of Kemal, the son of one of Istanbul’s richest families and his bordering on creepy love of Furun, who is, of course, from the wrong side of the tracks.  I admit it’s not my favourite Pamuk novel, I mean Kemal is nothing short of a stalker (and a thief) as pathetically mopes around collecting (thieving) Furun’s used cigarette butts but Furun is no better with her desperation and sulking throughout most of the novel but regardless Pamuk’s writing is still a poetic, hypnotic story which draws you in (even if, like me, you had to put the book aside for a while).  I’m moving on for those who have not yet read it so no spoilers here people.

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While I was recently in Istanbul I wandered into the antique district of Çukurcuma where I inadvertently happened onto the actual “Museum of Innocence”.  This interesting museum was conceived by Pamuk who collected items over the period of writing his novel to go hand in hand with his story.

Entering the three-storey building is like seeing fiction turned into reality.  From the mesmerising installation of Furun’s cigarette butts to clothes and pieces of daily life from the 1950’s through to modern Istanbul it was an interesting reminder of a period that has been left behind.

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It was a fascinating stop on my meandering through Çukurcuma but it was also a stop that made me feel infinitely sad.  Sad for Kemal and I guess in some way sad for myself as well.  We all have that lost love (well maybe not everyone) but for many of us, we had a Mr (or Miss) Big.  I called mine Mr Mediocre (it took me years to realise that he wasn’t all that) and somewhere in the back of my wardrobe I do in fact still have a movie ticket from the first movie we went to (Dirty Dancing) and hidden in a book somewhere on my bookshelf (and no I don’t remember which book) is my only photo of him and I, circa 1993.  A total of 12 years of my life for a love that is only a memory now.  I don’t regret the way my life turned out but I do in some small way understand how the pathetic Kemal became so infatuated and destroyed his life over his love for Furun.

To anyone who is a fan of Orhun Pamuk and gets the opportunity to visit his museum, do yourself a favour.  It is only small but it is truly charming and well worth getting lost in Çukurcuma with the intention of finding yourself here.

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Çukurcuma also has so many tiny antique shops which, although out of my price range, were still fascinating to rummage through (and the Turkish tea that is offered as soon as you walk through the door was a blessing on that freezing January morning that I visited the area).

The future of museums is inside our own houses.

And if you haven’t read The Museum of Innocence grab a copy now from Amazon

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Istanbul or Bust

Like most of us, I have a love affair with Istanbul, and I try and visit this beautiful city at least once a year.  I always take a list of things I want to see and when in the city, I walk around and tick off the tasks that I’ve completed.  Daughter can’t cope with my method and now that she is a little older (but perhaps not any wiser) I let her go off and do her own thing (which usually involves around sitting in coffee shops with her friends, flirting with boys and melting my credit card with her spending).

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I’m just now back from a week in this gorgeous city, staying in a fab apartment on Istiklal Caddesi.  I racked up over 100,000 steps (or 82 km), predominantly getting my tourist on, but also spending time meandering through tiny alleyways and cobbled backstreets looking for that hidden gem that I hadn’t found before.  One of my friends gave me a pretty thorough list of places I should visit but with my god-awful sense of direction, I got lost every single time although having gotten lost, I often found somewhere new that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

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Walking through Istanbul’s busy streets is a visual feast, with so much life going on around every corner that you never know what you will find from an overflowing mosque filling onto the street on a Friday afternoon, ladies gossiping to their neighbours (probably about other neighbours) or a street party to welcome a young man home from his army conscription, life is everywhere.  Istanbul is also made for those of us who are cat-obsessed and as a self-proclaimed cat-whisperer I  always kept an eye out for my four-legged furry friends as I go.   Did they follow me back to my apartment?  I’m not saying yes and I’m not saying no but I will say that when we left there was a little calico kitty sitting on the step next to our doorman when we left for the airport.

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The thing with Istanbul is that it really is a city that you can just walk around in.  No need to do tours or pay exorbitant fees (150TL for 1 day or 180TL for two days) to bus companies.  Instead, you grab an Istanbulkart and hop on the trams and buses that are so easily accessible and just as easy to use.  I also downloaded a couple of apps including Voice Map and Street Art Istanbul which gave me the opportunity of also seeing things from a different perspective.

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Of course, I ate way too much during my week in Istanbul but I expect that all that walking won’t translate to kilos lost thanks to my indulging in everything I saw with tempting stacks of baklava, simits and lokma on every street corner and juicy kebabs, overloaded kumpir and thanks to Macro Centre (why oh why won’t they open one in Mersin) even a little bacon thrown in to enjoy.  Yes I know I can eat all of this just as easily in Mersin (well maybe not the bacon) but when in Rome (or Istanbul).

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On a serious note, I will mention how safe I felt during my time in Istanbul.  There was a significant security presence with police and soldiers patrolling at tourist attractions as well as security guards doing bag checks and security gates to pass through before entering shopping centres or bazaars.  At no time did I feel nervous or intimidated.  I was not harassed while out by myself and Daughter, who travelled on the metro by herself to Kadikoy and back, did so without incident.  Yes, you should be vigilant and follow the advice of local security authorities as well as monitor media reports and keep up to date with the travel advice issued by your own Government, but I personally felt very comfortable visiting this beautiful city, and I hope to come and visit again very soon.

Istanbul 1

I will do a few posts over the coming weeks about our time in Istanbul, but I just thought for now I would put up a few photos.  They are, of course, not great as I am no photographer, but they are little memories for me to keep.

If you are thinking of visiting Istanbul why not grab one of these books –

 

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If I Could Turn Back Time

The Powers That Be here in Turkiye took it upon themselves to ignore the way the rest of the world operate and have done away with turning back the clock announcing an end to daylight savings.  This means that we are forever on summer holidays which is nice I guess but for today, and perhaps for a few of us dopier peeps, it also means total chaos as we try and decipher what time it really is.

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Right now in our house every single clock says its 6:16am … except that it is actually 7:16am.  The reason I know it is 7:16am is that my FIL has already started screaming for his breakfast and, despite the fact that every single clock in our house says its 6:16am and we all should be slumbering it is daylight outside (albeit a little overcast which will no doubt burn off into another stinking hot day).

For sure this bureaucratical bundle of bok will cause chaos over the next 24 hours (or 23 depending on which clock you are looking at).

Turkiye is now at Greenwich Mean Time plus 3 hours.  So for those of you in the UK you are now of course 3 hours behind, for those of you in Down Under you are 8 hours behind and for those of you in the US you are … fecked … and I’m not just talking about your presidential candidates.

And why did they do this you ask?  Officially it is to save on electricity (truely this is the official word).  Unofficially I wonder if this is a religious decision to bring Turkiye in line with Saudi Arabia and Mecca for prayer and Ramadan timing.

Just to prove that this is a real kerfuffle think of Cyprus.  Northern Cyprus is 1 hour ahead of Southern Cyprus.  What about Nicosia?  It’s a half / half city!  And what if you live in Northern Cyprus and work in Southern Cyprus.  Or go to school in Southern Cyprus?  Can anyone say cock-up???

Regardless whatever time you think it is check with someone who does not spend their life attached to a phone or a computer because I reckon they are the only folk who actually know what the feck is going on around here!

Update!  Daughter’s new Iphone 7 did NOT change time.  She has just dragged herself out of bed wondering what all the fuss is about.  “You people are all technologically stupid”!  Direct quote.

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Dear Türkiye

I am not standing by your side today for I am far, far away but I know that you are suffering and I weep for you.

image1I know you must feel manipulated and bullied by those who want you for their own personal gain. Those that feel that they can control you and own you. I see you being scrutinized and gossiped about by your so-called friends and neighbours who twist their own hateful words to the world until you feel that there is no hope left. And I know there are those that wish you nothing but harm with wave after wave of attacks against your countrymen by an enemy wielding instruments of death. You have been overwhelmed by the hatred when you yourself have been so generous and opened your heart and your arms to welcome so many less fortunate. It must be hard to hold your head up high with so many wishing you harm.

Fighting for your life can be painful and God knows you have suffered. We are all witness to your pain. I know that you have tried to be strong. I see your brave attempt to take control of your future but you just weren’t strong enough today. Don’t give up Türkiye. Don’t let the hate and the negativity win.

A great man once said, “Peace at home, peace in the world”. You and I know that great man as your father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He once made you strong. He once made you proud. And if you just remember Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in time of pain you will become a strong and proud nation once again.

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Up and Away

I love to travel.  I love to experience new places and things, but, before you arrive on your summer holiday or return to the comfort of your own bed, you have to endure the 9 Circles of Hell with mind-numbingly slow queues, some serious second base groping, flight delays, screaming children (and on occasion screaming adults as well), middle seat syndrome, out of this world turbulence and basically anything else that Lucifer could throw at you to ensure that your flight sucked.  Big time!airport meet_0_0_0_0

I caught a flight from Tallinn, Estonia to Istanbul the other night with Turkish Airlines.  I really like Turkish Airlines.  The staff are good, the food is not entirely gross and the planes are in pretty decent nick.  I mean I have been on some really dodgy airlines before but Turkish Airlines is not one of them.  I’d give them a 4 star rating.

Getting to our seats Daughter immediately noticed that there was no television.  OMG!  What are you going to do for 2+ hours.  I pointed at the little screen above our heads, “You can watch from up there.”  She rolled her eyes.  #FirstWorldProblems #SpoiledPrincess

As soon as the flight started they turned on the film “Batman v Superman” and I thought “Why not?” so I settled in for the flight while Daughter listened to 5SOS.  The movie was OK.  I mean I am not a fan of these types of movies but it was better than a trip to the dentist.  Anyway 5 minutes before the movie ended – they switched it off – as we were coming into land.  5 minutes?  Seriously?  Did Batman kill Superman?  Was Lois Lane saved?  What happened to that big half mixed monster thingy?  And who was that chick that got in on the battle?  “Is she with you?”  “No I thought she was with you”.  Classic.  These are questions that I need answered.

As we were disembarking I asked the stewardess did Superman die?  She just laughed.  Apparently I am not the first to ask that question.

Arriving in Istanbul we had the extended re-mix of layovers before our flight to Adana so I settled in to people watch.  Remember the beginning of the movie Love, Actually?  I love that scene with everyone running into each other’s arms at Heathrow Airport.  Brings tears to my eyes every single time.  This is not that.  This is a bunch of grumpy, tired Turkish people (and a few random, and nervous, yabancı) all of whom would rather be anywhere else but at the airport at 1am.

While people watching I got to witness one man, angry at the world (or maybe he missed the last 5 minutes of Batman v Superman as well), grab one of those grey plastic containers as he passed through security and try to hit one of the polis with it.  Soon other polis arrived on the scene and he was dragged away.  He must have had one hell of a pat-down.  This was not in Love, Actually.

Then there was the flight to Diyarbakir that was delayed for over 2.5 hours (sorry Onur Airlines there’s a reason why I never fly with you).  People were going freaking nuts.  As a bystander it was definitely something to witness.  The poor ground staff were surrounded 10 deep with screaming Turks while just to the side was a woman holding a baby crying at the top of her lungs telling everyone that they are ‘not normal’.  She must have pushed somebody’s buttons because then everyone turned on her and she retreated to a corner.  This was also not in Love, Actually.

But the kicker was when we finally got into Adana airport at 4am and shuffled through to baggage claim.  One middle aged lady knocked an old man with a cane over while retrieving her luggage and didn’t even look twice at him.  No geçmiş olsun.  No apology. Nothing.  Yep pretty damn sure that wasn’t in Love, Actually either.

Like I said I love flying.  Love the whole shebang but being in a Turkish departure lounge after dark is like being front row at WWF Smackdown!

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I am Ankara

On Sunday night a car bomb exploded in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara, killing 32 people and injuring more than 100.

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In February a car bomb exploded in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara, killing 28 and injuring more than 61.

Sound familiar?  Let’s keep going.

January 2016 – Istanbul 12 killed and 14 injured.

October 2015 – again in Ankara 102 killed and over 500 injured.

July 2015 – Suruç with 22 killed and 104 injured.

Enough yet?  Are you surprised by the numbers?

Maybe we should put a few faces to those that have lost their lives.

On the right is Deniz.  Deniz lost his life in the bombing in Ankara last October.  On the left is Ozancan who lost his life in the bombing on Sunday night.  Did they deserve to die at the hands of terrorists?

Ankara bombing

This is Elif.  She was 19 years old and going to University.  Why must her family suffer for the belief of another?

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This is Mehmet Emre.  He was 16 when he died on Sunday night.  Why must his family shed tears for their son who was merely waiting for a bus?

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Sunday night’s attack was on a busy street, at a metro hub filled with people young and old enjoying the springtime evening weather.

I will not point fingers or give opinions on what is right and what is wrong with the world.  I will say merely this – no political, cultural, or religious belief is worth the lives of these kids.  Kids with dreams.  Lives with real meaning to those around them.  Families shattered.  Devastation.

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The New Normal

Once again terrorism has raised its ugliness stealing more lives and ruining countless others with this most recent atrocity in Istanbul, Turkey.  My thoughts go out to the families of those who died and to those who were injured in yesterday’s attack.  I wish with all my heart that we didn’t live in such a tumultuous time but we do and we need to take control of how we react to what is going on around us.  Terrorism is rife throughout the world and frankly we need to accept that this is the new norm for all of us.  We all know that fear is a commodity and terrorists are more than prepared to manufacture fear with the help of today’s media. istanbul 3

Right now many of you who were thinking of visiting Turkey are asking the same question, “Is it safe to travel there?”  Yesterday the Turkish Government was quick to respond to the attack by declaring that the bomber was a member of Daesh (IS) and that Turkey will continue the battle against all terrorism until it no longer remains a threat to Turkey or to the world.  That’s great but does it make it any safer for tourists or for those of us living here?

I really love Istanbul.  It is, without doubt, one of the most unique cities in the world.  When Napolean said “if earth was a single state, then Istanbul would be its capital” he summed up how so many of us feel about her (yes to me Istanbul is a ‘her’).  She is a city with over 2500 years of history, culture and traditions.  She is jam packed with amazing landmarks, vibrant nightlife and something new around every corner.  She is truly sensational.  And she should not be passed over because when it comes down to it nowhere is truly safe anymore.

Paris.  Tunisia.  Egypt.  Lebanon.  Sydney.  Hell even San Bernadino in LA.  But it is our response to that fear that will determine our future.  Please don’t turn your back on these amazing places.  Do not let evil win.

Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower and savour its magnificent view.  Visit the Pyramids of Gaza or Tunisia’s famous beaches and please – please – come and stand in awe at the grandeur before you in Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul.  Be amazed by the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace.  Indulge in the heavenly cuisine and be welcomed with open arms by some of the most kindest people you will ever have the pleasure to meet.

There has always been a strong police presence in Istanbul and no doubt security will be beefed up again in the aftermath of this most recent attack.  For those of you travelling to Turkey remember to be safe, be aware (see links below) and be smart but please do not let evil control your future.  Only you can do that.

Travel advice for Australian tourists

Travel advice for UK tourists

Travel advice for US tourists

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Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom

These days you will find me on my terrace soaking in the last rays of sunshine before the grey of Mersin’s winter takes over.  I will no doubt have a cup of çay (sorry guys it’s not particularly Türk – white with two sugar) and, depending on the time of day, perhaps a biscuit (or two) to tide me over until akşam yemeği (dinner).  Basking in the sunshine is also the perfect time for me to catch up on my reading.

Tulips

As a blogger I am always on the hunt for fellow bloggers and writers that live in Türkiye, telling their own anecdotes of life, love and the numerous catastrophes that befall them living in this crazy country.  One of my favourite’s is fellow Aussie, Lisa Morrow, with her blog insideoutinIstanbul.  Her blog is filled with tales and photographs of her life living in one of the most incredible cities on earth – İstanbul – so when I received a copy of her most recent book, Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom, I knew that I needed to find a comfy spot in the sun where I would no doubt be entrenched until I had finished the very last line.

Lisa’s descriptive style captures the sights, sounds and even the smells (remind me to never catch the no. 2 bus with her) of modern day İstanbul, giving me, the reader, not only a personal tour of her favourite haunts but drawing me in with little known stories of what is, without doubt, one of the most amazing cities in the world.  Her anecdotes of language barriers and Government bureaucracy or even her partner’s difficulties with something as simple as his name (Who?) was something that any expat living in İstanbul (or any other city for that matter) will recognise.

To quote the wonderful Molly Meldrum (I am now picturing anyone who is not Australian googling “Molly Meldrum” right now), “Do yourselves a favour”.  With the Christmas season fast approaching this will make an excellent stocking stuffer, in fact, I can think of one particular friend back in Sydney will be receiving it in the mail very soon.

Does anyone else have any recommendations for good Türk inspired reading?  With winter fast approaching it is time for me to hibernate until spring so any suggestions to help pass the time while in my self imposed exile will be greatly appreciated.

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