Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised, since I’ve seen plenty of other images of Native Americana in Istanbul — including a garishly “sexy” Native outfit on a very skinny mannequin in the window of a clothing store in Galatasaray. Why all the Native American stuff? Continue reading
Kadıköy, on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, is a lot less touristy than the parts of the European side near the Galata Bridge. Frankie and I took a ferry over and shot some photos of its buildings, animals and people.
I laughed sympathetically as I watched this scene from the ferry I took from Kasımpaşa to Eminönü. The two younger women in these pictures really wanted to throw rocks into the Bosphorus. They weren’t harming anything, except maybe the chances of the couple of people fishing from the dock, who actually caught a nice-sized fish immediately after these women were chastised by the ticket-taker for the ferry.
1. “Is it OK?”
2. “Yeah, I think it’s OK. Let’s throw rocks in the Bosphorus over here….”
3. “I guess it wasn’t OK.”
Note the man in blue wearing sunglasses in the background — I’d spotted him behind me on the Galata Bridge and around Galatasaray multiple times in the hour before I boarded the ferry from which I took this photo, and when you follow a random route through a heavily urban area for an hour and remain paired with someone it’s no coincidence. Turkey may look ancient and venerable — and to be fair, it actually is — but in terms of its policing of its state, its quite modern, and you can bet that any Westerner on Istiklal or on the Galata Bridge is being closely watched, and that all mobile phone and internet activity is likewise being closely monitored.
There was no real consequence for me to this surveillance, other than that of any self-respecting person’s “f-u,” but you’ve got to feel for women in Turkey. The hegemony of male authority in Turkey seems like a suffocating and unnatural burden for everyone. Cogitate on the the daily life of Mr. Bluejeans & Sunglasses, for example… Just try to vividly imagine the hours of his days and who he relates to, and how, when he’s NOT working.
There are several sites almost every tourist in Istanbul visits, even if they’re the type of tourist who prefers to be called a “traveler.” Here’s a photographic whirl through some of these sites.
The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Carsii)
Once you take your shoes off and give them to your appropriately covered partner to carry in her backpack, you can walk through and appreciate the 400-year-old Blue Mosque‘s majestic lapiz lazuli-lined interior design, or the sight of Muslims from all parts of the world coming to appreciate its grandeur and feel closer to their god. Though it’s not the point of the place, it’s also amazing to see how much personal style can be expressed in the modest yet highly varied dress of Muslim women.
Or, if you’re like the guy in the picture above, maybe you can get just the right selfie or check your text messages. Continue reading
Dujiangyan is a system of irrigation channels largely responsible for the renowned fertility of the Chengdu basin, in southwestern China. This elaborate engineering wonder, built about 2300 years ago, and still in use today, is what makes Sichuan province the most productive agricultural area in China. Most contemporary dams use a big wall to block water, adversely impacting the natural flow of fish and other marine life, but the ancient Dujiangyan irrigation works lets water and fish continue to flow.
I have no idea how old the statue above is (2300 years?), but the colossal millipede nestled in this gargoyle’s ear looks old and big enough to be from an entirely different geologic era.
Dujiangyan is also home to another old and elaborate example of Chinese engineering: the Dujiangyan Detention Facility, one of many outposts in the sprawling Chinese police state. Literally countless dissidents, political activists and otherwise problematically outspoken people have been detained, tortured and interrogated at these facilities.
A lot of even modestly well-informed Westerners don’t know about the full scope of China’s police state, it’s laogai prisons or its contemporary forced labor practices. One reason for this ignorance is simply that the Chinese government works very hard to control news and information about its internal security apparatus, but another reason surely has to do with just the sheer size of the apparatus.
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