Mom and Dad,
Got mom's letter last week; and it only took about a week to get here.
Thanks. Enjoyed the pictures of Tom.
Mom, you're right about a place to live. Have a good one here. A bit
raw by US standards, but perfect for me. Older building in interesting,
"real" neighborhood; aesthetically pleasing apartment, with wood floors,
ok molding, and super excellent, quintessential Istanbul view. There
are twelve apartments in the building, most of which are rented by
Moslem families (veils and all). A couple are used for storage by local
businesses and one is rented by an English journalist. Will get some
pictures to you someday soon (though not taking many photos so far, as
want to experience this place as much in my brain, where the words are,
as is possible). Took a while to get my place reasonably comfortable,
as had to buy furniture, etc, but that actually a lot of fun, in a way.
Part of the experience, and I learned a lot. Even had to install my own
light fixtures. No central-heating, so use one natural gas and one
electric heater. Ismail was/is very helpful in all ways, both with
technical support and with help finding bargains. I've been very lucky.
Not "running" around too much. Indeed, literally can't run. Otherwise,
my new hips performing flawlessly and thrilled at the absence of pain
and how strong they are. Hoping to find an affordable pool around here,
but such things not high on Turkey's needed infrastructure list. Except
for super expensive pools in the luxury hotels ($25/day), very few pools
in Istanbul. (Sorry Dad, no golf courses either.)
Haven't worked too hard on trying to paint the "big picture" in my
little blurbs. But generally, go to Turkish classes three mornings a
week, starting at nine o'clock, for four hours each day. Study a least
that much on my own, not including trying to have "real life" Turkish
lessons. Work about 15 hours a week, not including preparation and
travelling time, which almost doubles that figure. (Since each work
session usually only two hours, spend an inordinate amount of time on
unpaid travelling; so far that's ok, as I enjoy the travelling, because
I get to see odd parts of Istanbul. That bit of charm will probably
wear off over time.) Have enjoyed figuring out the transit system, and
have gotten pretty good at using the buses, metro, the dolmas (something
in between buses and taxis). Cook at home a few times a week -- pasta,
rice and veggies; things like that (there are tiny bakeries and
vegitable stands everywhere) -- though eating out here can be really
cheap and interesting. Have two really good Turk friends now; Ismail
and a wonderful women named Sukran (pronounced "Shookrahn"). Spend very
little time with yabanci (foreigners, like me). We spend a fair amount
of time in cafes (which are bountiful and central to life her) talking
about writing, politics, Turkish, etc. At least once a week I go on a
long walk through a part of the city I haven't seen yet. Ismial usually
joins me. These are always amazing and are probably the most important
part of my life here. There's a Turkish newspaper that's written in
English, which I try to read most days. Most days I also visit New York
Times and CNN web cites. As you can see, taking this all very
seriously, am very busy and am loving every minute of it.
More later. Working on a blurb about a strange religious holiday we're
in the midst of right now.
Thanks for your interest, which as I've mentioned before important for
me. And, especially, thanks for keeping in touch.
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