Cafe life


Yesterday I sat drinking iced latte in "Coffee ‘me" on Divanyolu Caddesi. It’s expensive—6.50 YTL-- but when I had nothing smaller than a 10 lira note they brought me 5 lira back and said not to worry about it. I wanted to check this place out, I’m on a search for my next neighborhood café hangout as I’ll need somewhere to sit and work while I drink coffee. And I was curious about the iced coffee. I think it’s a new thing here. It was good and enormous but I don't think this is the kind of place you can hang out for hours working on your laptop. Like all the other cafes you are welcome to linger, though.

There’s a photo of Ataturk on the wall here, as there is a photo of Ataturk on every wall here. I think the man must have been photographed every minute of his life once he established the republic. There are so many pictures and not just the same picture over and over again. This one, for instance, appropriately shows him balancing a small cup of coffee and a cigarette in his left hand. The photo and the clouds of smoke are the only signs this is not an independent Starbucks competitor in New York.


Sitting in a café on Taksim Square waiting for Alex. I just had to explain to a young Saudi Arabian man the name of the square, and who that statue is, Ataturk of course, and who he was and that no, the statue isn’t 700 years old, maybe more like 70. It’s nice to know an answer instead of only and always being the one with the questions. Then he asks what they all do. Are you here alone? By now I know to say no, I’m here with friends. For all intents and purposes I guess that’s true.

I think that’s the strangest adjustment I have to make here. No one would ask me that at home and if they did I wouldn’t have to lie or feel strange saying yes.

Now I wonder what the reaction would be if instead of answering yes or no I were to say instead, “are you?”


Sitting in Starbucks taking the lazy way out today since I don’t have any food in the house yet. I’ve come for breakfast.

All the barristas speak English very well and the inside looks the same as new York. The only difference is the signs which at first glance look the same but if you look more closely you see that while the item names and categories are in English/Italian, the descriptions are in Turkish. The other difference is that there is a slightly denser mix of languages around than in most parts of New York, but New York being New York if you head to one of the tourist areas you will hear a similar mix.

There is no smoking inside which is mildly surprising for Turkey, but I do see that there are a good number of tables in the covered area out front and heaters for year-round smoking comfort.

This Starbucks is highly air-conditioned, another attraction today. I left the house earlier than usual, decided to wander slowly and take my time and try to maintain my cool but already my back is damp. I guess I just have to resign myself to sweating for a few more weeks.

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