Talented people pen a letter to share the love of that thing they are passionate about. The world needs more love and more love letters.
GONCA VUSLATERİ
My meet due honour, Istanbul,

Dear İstanbul... My beautiful city… My favorite…

What you call “value” is somehow measured by the remembrance that the value is underestimated. You cannot explain presence unless you use absence as a base. One can pick an intention, a standard, pleasure, contentedness, a poem behind even the most pretend smile.

Istanbul, you are a bon vivant, established city. Parasites and slackers can never ever achieve the dance of the chatty. You are a crowded poem; all your words migrated from a different culture.

Here, I am standing in front of Haydarpaşa Train Station - a wonderful unity of German and Italian mastership. I am 16 years old, sitting on the stairs for the first time.

These are the times when our only ‘attraction’ is to skip the school and go to Haydarpaşa with friends… From where we sit we watch the seagulls landing on the opposite shore while old men who fell asleep at the Train Station bar eat Turkish bagels and cheese while drinking tea. It was the time the City of Angels (1999) came out to the theaters just recently and I memorized Haydarpaşa Train Station as the place where all the angels on duty in Turkey gather. Is there any seagull which does not miss the ferry’s departure time? Those which go to the Beşiktaş Pier leaving you when the ferry gets close to the Haydarpaşa…

This place survived two grand fires. The service is temporarily stopped in 2012. Four floors are completely collapsed. The last night, we were together on the sadness of an Ankara train with no self-awareness. We were going to Ankara with the wagon-lit. There were Italians in the bar. They were talking loud; they were saying “cheers” while their glasses were raised. They were talking about our cheer. We said “No sir”. This stain is for all of us. Cheers to you…

There was an old man there, almost at the same age with the station. “This is the last day of my duty” he was saying. With his eyes looking outside the window for the first time, he pulled a wagon full of Turkey’s smell off its hook with the heart-throb rumble of the rails. Then things went off the rail. Isn’t it true, İstanbul?

Views from the Stairs

It is a historical day in Kuzguncuk.
I was accepted in the Conservatory. Ah! What an excitement! You were there with me that day and how we were cold just because you weren’t in the mood... We walked away from the shore; we sat with one of my friends on the endless stairs where are breaths run short. “Look” she said. “Bülent Emin Yarar lives here.” I got excited. ‘Çayhane’ was not yet on the stages in İstanbul. There are still many years until ‘the Professional’ wins our hearts. We are looking at you from the Kuzguncuk stairs. The night resembles the song ‘Eftelya the Mermaid’. It’s like the sea sparkles sing at an open air concert. We are drunk in your endless conversation. People who went out reading poems… The brewing of the woman who was a costume chef in Yeşilçam... The retired dramaturge woman’s home-cooking shop named ‘Betty Blue’… Gürol Ağırbaş’s playing the guitar while sipping from his rakı on his balcony… İstanbul gentlemen who may one day be shaken by Birsen Tezer...

Conversations on the Fifth Floor of the Cihangir

Kuzguncuk… The shore of friendships which are mixed with Turkish bagels, tomatoes, olives, thyme and olive oil in transparent bags, go down the transparent people’s throats and probably are not treated without tea.

It is the backstage of many poems and young art students who stare at Cihangir like it is America. Cats are the watchers of its streets. If you didn’t see the same cat in the same street once more, then it means that there is danger in the street. When the compote’s fat is set, you get upset Istanbul, I know that. Kuzguncuk becomes a pole; young men with almond faces become demons so that the justice can pass by the pole safe and sound. I like Kuzguncuk, too. I visit it like every tourist human being on this earth on which we are not permanent. Because you are more naïve, there… You keep on the right side of me, I know...

One can say that there is something with you. Despite all this chaos and this entire intimate confusion, one does not feel sick and the neighborhoods and the side streets don’t hurt each other… Despite all these things!

We experience productions, failures, wars that extend to centuries in order to take one step that is slow and secure just like we live in an elephant’s body. Our fastest confrontations render us the least fertile century but there is balance in the nature! We know that. This wounded one carries you for a reason. One looks for a talisman in you that matures one’s self after each historical artifact dries up and falls down and each historical moment is deleted.

These are too many responsibilities for a city... Really, how did you manage that? That’s why each time I thought about leaving I rehearsed death to myself. Because, there is something… In Cihangir, on the fifth floor of the last building on Cihangir Street, there is something with you that make Orhan Veli say “eyes closed”. Indeed, what did you talk about with Orhan that day?

Memories in Galatasaray’s Bibliopoles

For instance, there is Vahap Usta* the bibliopole. He was one of your oldest bibliopoles. Your oldest confidant... I was 19 when I met him and Vahap Usta was really old then. He was selling the last books he had. Cemal Süreyya, Edip Cansever, Yaşar Kemal, Turgut Uyar and many others came to his store in Galatasaray, read in front of his door the painters’ sketches, notes, historical stories kept in hidden corners of Europe, drinking weak tea. Vahap Usta was a man who many actors look for. When he wanted to press his own book, they pleased him by ‘printing’ it. “If you put the pages together, make it readable and if you are curious about the next page – you will be OK without a publisher. Everyone will read you” he used to say. This transparency of him used to kill me. He was selling to people he choose the 10 books he had because he promised not to die until he has no books in his store. Sometimes it was hard to earn the knowledge; we dusted our coats on the pavements and with Ustas to be able to say that we know. “People at home are driving me crazy, Usta.” “You are already crazy, my mad Gonca.”

Orphan Stories from Galata

And in Galata, you tell the story of a crowd who ran away from the orphanage. Those bibliopoles bring pickups from Germany to the country.
Hümeyra is still very young when she draws illustrations on those pickups covers. That ‘Kördüğüm (Tangle)’** is not yet resolved. They would leave the Melek Kobra story in Burçak Evren and Gökhan Çuhadar’s room on a Monday. Only later will we know that this girl who died from tuberculosis at age 25 is actually the Ayşe of the first Ayşe Operetta. We would confront the youth stories of Semiha Berksoy or Cahide Sonku in Gülriz Sururi’s childhood memories. However, you would hide your displeasure, İstanbul.

Just like Samiha Ayverdi once told, the sieve of the time would know what to do, wouldn’t it İstanbul? “It won’t stop those who fall and will shake off the rest. What pours out pours out; what remains remains...”

*A Turkish term for addressing those who are experts at a certain craft.
**One of Hümeyra’s most popular songs from 1969.

ALP İŞMEN
Dear Love,

I woke up, you are in my mind. I forgot during breakfast but each time I took a sip from my tea, I remembered again; long before that innocent night, when I was purifying myself, being naked under hot water made me think of you. I had you in one part of my mind and your smell in another part. Welcome. Who were you? Which flower were you, which one did you relished?  You were the one which you, your own, smelled. What am I going to do with myself - with myself who have known you?

I woke up, you are in my mind. I forgot during breakfast but each time I took a sip from my tea, I remembered again; long before that innocent night, when I was purifying myself, being naked under hot water made me think of you. I had you in one part of my mind and your smell in another part. Welcome. Who were you? Which flower were you, which one did you relished?  You were the one which you, your own, smelled. What am I going to do with myself - with myself who have known you?

She used to love me starting from my shoulders, from my shoulders, then, my hands. It was my hands who were crying at the end, it was the smell of longings. Wish we wake up to a beautiful morning.

Pardon me, who were you? Your substance is in the smell brought by a wind.

Love! I need you. I am sick. It’s not me but my heart. It’s your brain that keeps my heart alive. My brain is in coma. Be a remedy for my soul before my death occurs. Let your breath bundles me up, and your body bundles my substance, your soul bundles my body up. Love! I need you! You filled the space which was resultant of your absence. This is an occupation that the history will never see again! I cannot sleep. Love! You need me.

Discharge the pain; discharge it one by one at each step.

Tell me, how are you? Free from the whirlpool of the streams, the waters are calm on the surface. I am walking towards the clouds.

I am the earth, sheer, essential. I soak all the existence as far as it comes from you, while I have laid no life, fallen no branch or known no skin. One day, when the rage of the split sky is quiet again, the rocks would crack; my longing would become ashes in the grave of my god. I would know the crack on the mirror of the rising day. Oh, of my heart…

Full moon is today. With the tenderness of a wild touch, its mind is united with life. The spell of the archaic word says that all that becomes connects to the one who makes with his own name; it’s up to you to find it.

Love.

Beauty was warm hands heating some cool places of you, in a moonlit night; some cool places of you or it was your skin that soaked my heat up and it was our gazes searching for the other; such as the glow of the moon light on the sea accompanies our nights, in its deep. It was beautiful. There was evening twilight in your taste.

I have been blinded by blood in absent scarlets, where is love in that? Hey, love! The dream of nights full of love, each one has fallen down, glittering brightly in the moss-bound cliché of the roots which permeated ironless, marbleless, baseless grave walls. Nights that resurrect… With my wisdom far from wornness, as much as the arbor allows, I have known that we are one. Because I believed, if only for a moment, in the fairytale of one for all, I stared at the sun that buries me in the night. I drank, licked the blood on your lips; didn’t I see that the moon light smiles in each statue which turned into an unexceptional stone made of cold, sticky, worse white marble.

Green and black, slippery and joyful; the revolution of archaic fears gave birth to a smell from the council of forests: Rotting is life, each drop of which falling among the leaves, reaching to the earth is blood, water and poison. Bite me purely with the teeth of a white, moist and slippery snake which glided after a pitch-black night, didn’t I see that the moon light smiles?

One goes on the road, one comes from the road, one chases love on that road, and one also runs away from that road with the smell of a moment; with the fear of beauties: it commands, stop! Until it stops with the tiring, tired faint of past; it freezes on the side, the passage of boats stand, shovels hover. The smell of airless home, curbsides on which lives are hidden; at its foot, the longing for grass grow on a corner; longing is imprisoned in a glance, didn’t I see that the moon light smiled in that whiteness!

Sleep. Stream of the most challenging rivers. You can wake up in its delta, you can be buried under the residue of dreams. It means falling in dream, it is the other sun that shines behind a mirror so that you would think it is moon light; white hole, white matter. Sleep.  It calls. Run. It is not the youth that ends but the hopes of the leaf, the branch, life’s resin that overflows from a crack in the overthrown trees. Sleep. The humus of fertile forests. You would imagine it’s only your voice that resists rotting. Rotting is life, the smell of blood smudged in your hands carries the pain to you. When you put the pain to sleep, the brain flows, falls apart through your fingers. A little blood is piled up in your palm and the linden-scented moon is reflected.  The moon. The being in your sleep. Whatever vengeance you harbor, it springs up whitely in your bed. This is the revenge of infidelity. Love is the sleep of the shroud bundled up. Wake up! Hope to sober up from the mornings bathed in water. Let your hungover body gleam. Go. Let the road bring you to my grave. Stare at my stone without blinking so that it starts to moss, let my love leave chilly marks on your cheek. Let the vein in my temple beats in peace on each and every full moon. Whichever age’s call it is, I promise that I will follow it. Wait for me in the poison that leaks from the most secret wound in your skin. I lay down on that delta with a jot of your poison. The pain of wrecked ships, of lost lands, of missing lives, of souls sacrificed for pleasure is a cool breeze on my forehead. This touch is the contact of the longing in which the rose in my grave is rooted, it is the need that leaks from your breath. Come, lay beside me, sleep cuddling the shroud of time. Forget. Forgetting is the running of the myths gathered from pain. Sleeping is resurrection. Didn’t I see you smile!

Teeth that gleam in the middle of a smiling face with their dimmed eyes. It is the lip of immobility that speaks, it is the fossilized words of love. The absence in my mirror is due to the vanishing of my light; look carefully, the secret behind you is blood. You will see the fact that you are a gem that is whiter than your brain. It is just a pitch-black matter of time that is about to rot; touching you is Mesapotamia; it is as intimate as the rock from which the earth comes. Whenever two rivers meet the gulf with thunderbolts, your breath is as volatile as ether when it passes through my breath, witnesses become speechless: Earth and Sky, only if these two gods both forget about the other then the holly water freezes in the well. The desert understands. These bodies have melded into sand ages ago. Who would know which grain, dust, piece, jot, atom belongs to whom. Here, I; there, you who crossed the mountains! What difference does it make, yours or mine; be born Enkidu out of your sorrow, out of Gılgamesh’s saliva. Shout towards mountains! Both who gave birth and who is born are from you.

Yesterday, it has been precisely hundred years. I have been waiting your breath for one century to be born again. I have become a taintless breeze from the peaks of the high merely for that; there is a shiver over my nape. I have become warmer. I have given birth.

I slept. I woke up.

Don’t forget to be loved.

Alp.

MİRGÜN CABAS
Dear my son,

My golden-haired son,

You are sitting across me with your huge red lips, your blue eyes, and your spindle shanks... You have gobbled up the piece of chocolate I just gave you. I got away with the kisses I got in return. You are looking at the television, asking questions here and there about the movie you are watching.

I told you thousands of things in the past four years since you were born. The things I told you became increasingly complex. The number of the questions I don’t know the answers of increased. It got harder to put off the ones I don’t know. Since the day you started talking, each time you open up your mouth, you work so hard to find the right words... Still, when I listen to you, what I am mostly afraid of is not that you will ask difficult questions but that one day your sweet speech will change and the letters you misspell will be correct. Terevision, Reyra (Leyla), possibre... All these will be history...

You were the only one who could speak with your French friend with whom you came home from school, last week. We were listening to your increasingly long sentences in Turkish, smiling and in astonishment but now we have to deal with French, too. While we were hardly coping with only one of the languages, you came to be a bilingual young person.

Yesterday, on the ferry, when we were coming back from Büyükada, you suddenly raised your head up from the cartoon you were carefully watching on your tablet and showed me the orange sun going down the horizon over Istanbul’s silhouette. You made me tell you why the sun is orange.

You revolted at me when we were walking on the streets of Büyükada to catch the ferry because we couldn’t find a coach. Then, to add some benefits to the situation you find a drudgery, I said: “The best way to explore somewhere you don’t know is to walk around in there.” At first, you seemed convinced; but then you asked “But how are we supposed to go somewhere we don’t even know” and laughed with the joy of finding the contradiction in what I said.

Just now, you squinted into my face. You looked like you were going to say something that is on the tip of your tongue. Then you changed your mind. I believe, I witnessed one of the moments when you learned how to weigh your words. Indeed, you would better do because we need such a person in our family.

This evening, it will be just the two of us at home. Soon, I will be trying to make you enjoy some food. Then we will bargain to close the television. We will agree upon that you will watch either one film or two short ones; but in the last minutes, you will cold-bloodedly break the agreement. When you go to bed, you will squeeze your ragged sleeping buddy rag cat under your arm. I will read you a new chapter from Pinocchio’s adventures. Later, you will leave your bed ten times for trivial reasons. Each time I will put you back in bed and increase the level of my threats a little bit more. You will not care. When you started to fix your gazes in the space, I will hug you, kiss you, and leave your side.

Then, you will wake up earlier than me, no matter what I will do. You will stand by me and check if I am awake or not. At that moment you will wake me up, I will pull you into the bed to playfully wrestle and a brand-new day will begin.

Then, when you laugh at something with your snow-white teeth, I will look at you thinking how much I love you and whether I will remember today when you grow up to be an adult man. Then, I will sit down and write a letter that will tell us about this day...
Mirgün Cabas 

FROM THE ARCHIVES
FEASTS
FINDS
CASE SERIES
ALL ARCHIVES
FROM THE ARCHIVES
FEASTS
AN INGREDIENT: ZUCCHINI

With few and uncommon variations, zucchini come in two shades of green, one dark, the other pale.

FINDS
MARIA, BY CALLAS, UNCENSORED

In her own words, singing opera was reaching to heaven where those gardens of pure harmony reside… The documentary “Maria by Callas” opens new doors regarding her life. This time, through her own voice.

CASE SERIES
Sleepless Nights and Fly Buzz

Fly swatters might have been the only help to go to sleep in those nights that you struggled with fly buzz.

BLACKOUTS
COPENHAGEN

A snapshot of happiness, freedom, and Nordic coolness in the streets of Copenhagen.

LOVE LETTERS
GONCA VUSLATERİ

Actress Gonca Vuslateri puts her love to Istanbul beginning from her youth days down to paper.

SENSES
ERDİL YAŞAROĞLU

Cartoonist Erdil Yaşaroğlu is taking us on a funny and intellectual journey with his answers to the questions about his wide-open senses.

CITIZENS
AYLA ERDURAN

Ayla Erduran is telling us about her life and Istanbul childhood, which she had to give up in order to become a world-famous violin virtuoso.