"O mighty Bosphorus, the cleft of empires, where east was united with west long ago. Where the Sardiners come to seek their glittering fortunes and watch them shudder and die in plastic containers. The gulls and swifts wheel on the thermals of 10,000 Istanbul vendors as shoe shiners look on with bowed heads and glassy eyes. The trams of Istiklal cut through the biomass like sabers, here is the origin of the profiterole. Silks of the Orient linger in the dusty corridors of the antiques district, caught in the old web of Byzantine. The alley cats emerge from their crevices in the dark and begin their clandestine activities in the lull of the Islamic neighbourhoods. Riot police, the guardians of public prayer grip guns as the carpet showroom showmen scan the crowds for tourists in their pale blue shirts. Chestnuts cook on hot coals smoking, sizzling and smoldering. On fourth floor backstreet internet cafes, backpackers and taxi-drivers sit illuminated alike. In the side streets of the main drag of Tarlabasi, trans-gender courtesans catch the curb crawlers, extracting gold teeth from the fangs of fate. The patrons of the table-clothed bars sip translucent raki while watching the humdrum manifest. Barbarian basement barbers brandish blades against rough cheeks as the shaving foam runs and curdles on the lino. Islands lie between the containerships in the iridescent oil slick, witnesses to this city of seven hills. And I sit here, wide eyed, black tea in hand."
~ O. Z. Bhatia, Istanbul, Summer 2012.