Day 3: Your Neighbor was my Büyük Dede

June 12, 2017.


I dreamed of driving a Volkswagen through a turnpike. The car was going too fast and I was surrounded by thunder and lightning and lots of rain. The wet roads and the car’s speed caused the car to slip off the turnpike and land onto some train tracks parallel to the road. I drove with adrenaline through the train track. The adrenaline eventually woke me up. I was still tired.

Perhaps the dream was telling me how much speed and storm was in my head. After all, walking through İstanbul fills me with excitement and wonder. My trip to Moscow is also approaching, and I have been thinking about what my first trip to Russia would be like. Would I be happy? Angry? Confused? Overwhelmed? I knew I would consult my family in Russia who would help me determine the answers. It would be a good icebreaker. After all, I haven’t seen some of the family in Russia for years. More importantly, there are some family members who I have neither met nor heard of.


A slower day. So more time to ponder with views of the water. I am writing this down at Ortaköy.

I do not know where my great-grandpa, Yousef, lived in İstanbul. I know he went to school here. He likely studied at İstanbul Üniversitesi. Subject? I really do not know. I like to think he studied municipal affairs or some sort of law enforcement subject. He became a police officer in Medina after he left İstanbul.

Ortaköy hills

Great-grandpa Yousef spent time in Ortaköy to view the Bosphorus, drank tea with friends, and used it as a meeting point with his fellow students. The neighborhood is in a central location that still hosts prime entertainment venues and markets. Cats still keep the neighborhood company, and dogs continue to stroll along with pedestrians as they walk to the area’s mosques, kumpir stands, and boats. Yousef either read, chatted, or reflected at Ortaköy before going to either Topuzlu Parkı or Yıldız Parkı for a different scene.


Back at the hotel following a yucky transition.

The traffic here sucks. I canceled a meetup with a friend in Üsküdar because all of Ortaköy was congested. Even the Uber wait time was longer than the time it would take for me to walk out of that neighborhood. It is also raining hard outside and the sidewalks are still crowded. It is pretty much always crowded. Ugh. Should’ve brought my umbrella.

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