8 Jan 2011

preserving Istanbul memories

Twenty years ago last August I passed through Istanbul towards Eastern Turkey. Saddam had invaded Kuwait and I was assigned by the Associated press to cover the refugees pouring out of Northern Iraq. It was a beautiful assignment. Turkey is a stunning country. The food, the scenery, the people and the history. On the day I visited Istanbul I wandered through the streets. It is what I do when I go to a new town. Mosey about with the camera. Stumbling into a district steeped in history caught me by surprise. A wondrous mix of wooden and stone houses bursting to tell stories about character, passion and a past. It was my first real experience of crossing the Bosphorus into Asia minor. That memorable swirl through the tiny streets and the interaction with the locals remained a memory without clarification for two decades, for I had no idea of the name of the district. Until by chance I saw last year the fine visual report about the district by Jonathan Lewis.

A recent communication from Turkey passed me sad news about the area. The streets of Tarlabasi are under threat from city planners.  http://www.tarlabasiistanbul.com/  We may not be able to prevent the redevelopment but we can preserve some memory even if it is just a few examples of those fine old wooden homes. A great reason for myself and others to relive the memory of our travel days. Turkey has a great future just like its past. I hope the planners can preserve both

 Right:  The Tarlabasi district in Istanbul 1990.