HOW I WAS A STUDENT IN ISTANBUL -MY OPINION OF THE CITY

The last few days, I have been remembered way too many times by a few of the people I knew and loved back in Istanbul.

As many of you are aware, I used to live in Istanbul as a student during my MBA at IFA Paris ( MBA Luxury Brand Management). Many of you still keep enquiring about the course and the programme – get your details here! Their application for January 2020 intake is now open, so you would have plenty of time to dig.

The rest of you who aspire to live in Istanbul as a student, let me tell you that it would be the best decision you could ever make! I know because it was simply one of the best countries I have lived in.

Quick tips that comes in handy if you are a student going to live in Istanbul –

1- Get a Istanbul Kart for your daily travels while you take the bus and the metro! Get the apps you require to survive – bitaksi is one of them! Taxis are super affordable if you want to relax and travel but extremely time consuming. Once you familiarise yourself with the bus and metros, life is easier as Istanbul has Europe and Asian side to cover along with small islands that you could take the Ferry for.

2- Effes is probably going to be your go-to beer brand, local produce but quite good!

3- Taksim and Nevizade streets would be your daily grind, but explore other areas too like : Nisantasi, Besiktas, Moda, Princess Island, Karaköy and Emirgan.

4- Tavuk Pilav (Chicken Pulao) and Döner (the one at Koregaon Park, Pune doesn’t even come close to the taste and for obvious reasons) would eventually become your binge choice when hungry.

5- You would soon start to claim that coffee cup reading is your thing. And you would develop a love for Turkish coffee and tea (Çay). Apple tea and Hookahs are also must try and simply exquisite.

6- People are BEAUTIFUL. You would soon find your heart changing into a Dickens or Bronte or the likes of any author – side effects may include unnecessary fluttering of hearts and eyelashes, occasional dates and oodles of pampering.

For the women : Turkish men are ideally a heart person, they are very expressive and don’t shy away from courting you, they are more about the process than the final end result and are very romantic! They would hold your hand and walk you in the park and insist on paying for you (they really do not understand the concept of splitting or letting the woman pay too), it may be cute for a while but certain things could feel too old school – but hey it’s all individualistic and depends on a lot of factors but in general and from personal experience, I can vouch for this. I have barely gone on a few dates with Turkish men and that was enough. Personally, I can’t be that smothered.

For the men : Turkish women are very beautiful no doubt but don’t just admire them for their appearance ! They are well-balanced, career oriented and in trend with global dynamics and culture quite a lot and often extremely well educated while balancing the family. You might want to be able to respect their spirituality and beliefs. It works both ways! 🙂

7- You will have cats all over you : admit it, they have always been your spirit animal. You might also conclude cats might rule this planet or at least Istanbul one day. Probably one of the main reasons why I believed I have lived many a lives in Istanbul before, probably as a cat 😉

And to top it all, the city is a labyrinth of historical artefacts and empires that exist in harmony with modern potboilers.

Until next blogpost soon.

XOXO,

Written by,

Adhisa Ghosh

ISTANBUL 101 x IFA PARIS

I am blatantly aware of how so many of you have asked me about my MBA course and about IFA Paris.

To start with, I was pursuing my undergrad in Symbiosis Institute of Design in Pune, specialising in Fashion Communication when in my final year I decided to go in for my MBA in Luxury Brand Management, immediately after my final degree project.

No, I didn’t have any help from anyone to figure things out so amidst working for my Degree Project and pursuing the application process at IFA for its September 2017 batch, I followed all the guidelines and process clearly mentioned on their website and also applied for a scholarship.

Once I was given a counsellor who guided me through the process, online exam and the interview, much to my delight, I was accepted with scholarship into the program.

The option was that first six months I could choose between Istanbul, Shanghai and Paris, and eventually finish off my last two semesters in Paris. Taking this opportunity I decided to give Istanbul a shot as Turkey has always fascinated me and was on my Bucket list.

I couldn’t miss the opportunity of being able to live and study at such an exotic destination. After spending six months in Istanbul and living like a locale I would like to give you a list down of the Istanbul lifestyle and the IFA experience.

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FLAT HUNTING

Initially, if you choose Istanbul, the campus coordinator connects you two months prior, with the fellow students coming to the same destination, on a WhatsApp group (This is only for Istanbul, the Shanghai batch had different measures). We had a total of only 5 students who opted for Istanbul, hence the pressure was less.

I connected with a Turkish school teacher who wanted to rent out his apartment located opposite the Golden horn in Istanbul on a Turkish house hunting website. The minimum monthly rent and lifestyle budget can range from 750-1500 Lira depending on your indulgences as well. But Istanbul is a city that can be very easy on your budget and is cheaper than Mumbai! (shocker)

I cannot stress how important it is to budget your savings while you are a student abroad. 

Also, finding accommodation is extremely easy and hotels are cheap if you want to come to the country and then re-confirm your housing as I did.

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GETTING YOUR ISTANBUL KARTE

It’s a travel card you get at any grocery store (generally SOK and Tekel shops) (SOK is a grocery chain and Tekel is alcohol store)

It is a must that you buy this card that comes for 7 lira. You need to keep recharging your card, a minimum of 30 lira that goes for a month or half depending how often you travel. These cards can be swiped in the bus, tram, metro-bus and metro. Alternatively, cabs can be frequently used as well because they run on meter and are quite reasonable than Europe. (I know you must have heard a lot of negative things about Turkish cab drivers, please do not form a judgement unless you have experienced it in real life, most of the cab rides i have taken have been wonderful and people have been kind.)

In retrospect, it’s a must you buy this card!

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IFA CAMPUS

IFA collaborates with a premium institute called the Kadir Has University that has a very good reputation and prestige in Istanbul. Located in Fatih, the college is accessible by all public transport and is a very safe campus, one of the most peaceful ones I have seen so far.

With a starbucks, two huge cafeterias, unlimited wifi and state of the art classrooms, you won’t feel like leaving the campus much.

Also, the course structure for MBA in Luxury Brand Management is not very intensive at the beginning and you will have plenty of time to settle in and feel at one with the course. The teachers are wonderful, warm and caring and are extremely sensitive to your adjustments or any short-comings. I am so glad that I have gotten to experience a wonderful bond with most of my mentors in Istanbul who did a brilliant job at teaching us the course layouts and also went out of their comfort zones to arrange for trips and visits so we could get to know the Turkish culture and market more personally.

Our campus administrator was a Turkish person who would always encourage outdoor trips and coax us to soak in the cultural spirit of the city, even if it was a 3 am cab ride back home, realising that Istanbul was a city that literally never slept. The best part was we knew that most of our teachers and mentors were a call away in case of any emergencies, there was no barrier and we were like a big family!

(The new IFA campus details of Istanbul have changed, click on ISTANBUL IFA to know more about it! )

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IFA INDUSTRY VISITS

During your six months of stay I can promise you over 20 industry visits spread across two semesters. These include the Perfumes and Cosmetics and Hospitality seminars. You get to visit and interact with brands and entrepreneurs, visit luxury hotels and take tours, get offered different cuisines and learn about wine tasting and visit vineyards for Gastronomy lectures. I think the best part about the two semesters spent here is the amount of time we have wandered outdoors participating and soaking in real lessons and meeting with people coming from various walks of life. It was all very luxurious and I felt that I was studying a luxury brand management course because everything was related and a very realistic image was drawn over everything. Between these visits and amidst networking with countless entrepreneurs , I grew up in Istanbul.

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NIGHTLIFE IN ISTANBUL

Now, I understand that as a student it can get quite hectic sometimes and taking a break and soaking in the nightlife in a different country becomes a must routine breaker.

Join in with an Erasmus student group who organise pub crawls and events. Soak in the nightlife and pubs across Taksim, Istiklal street, Ortakoy and Besiktas. Some really good nightlife destinations which are easily accessible and cheap in Istanbul. Some of our daily grinds were – The Beat, Eski Beirut, St. Regis and Cosmo. Google them if you are in Istanbul!

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FOOOOOOD

Not going to say much on this except Tavuk Doner, Iskender, Sarma, Çorba, Lahmacun, Turkish delights, Baklava and Çai are my favourites! I am not so fussy about food and given that I am a Bengali, I appreciate good food. I strictly believe if you have left your country to live in a different one, you might as well soak up the food and culture while you are young! Istanbul is filled with warm smell of freshly baked breads, cheese and olives in the mornings. Dig in while you are there!

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TURKISH PEOPLE

One word- Beautiful. Period.

The most helpful and shockingly honest bunch of people I have met so far. Boys are charming and respectful for most parts ( although avoid dating Turkish men haha, okay maybe just two dates ) and women are gorgeous!

Also, I love Turkish people. Istanbul is in my list of countries to work in for a while.

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MUST HAVE APPS

If you are an art aficionado and want to spot some cool areas – Street art Istanbul is a good option. For the practical student related apps to get around – I can swear my life on Trafi and BiTaksi. For food delivery, there is only one efficient app called Yemeksepeti.

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NEARBY VISITS 

Since I lived in the European side as the college was located there, my travel time was 20 minutes. But people do commute for an hour, it’s not surprising at all.

Public transport is one of the best and very convenient – you can take the ferry as well to nearby islands. We used to go to the Asian side quite a bit. You can also make one day trips to Troy (click to read the whole article on my visit), Bursa, Pamukkale and Capadocia amongst many others.

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IN RETROSPECT – WHAT IFA OFFERS AND MY EXPERIENCE 

In retrospect, I strictly recommend that before visiting any country you try to adapt a few of their words, their pronunciation and to extend an acceptance. I strongly believe the kind of behaviour you project is what you receive back, especially in a foreign country. It’s good to be discreet and friendly yet knowing when not to let someone take advantage of you.

IFA gave me exactly this opportunity, to live in two different countries and gather an exposure which is very potent, deeply instilled with a knowledge of their inherent culture, mounting over layers of the decades of forgotten history and stories.

You want to take this one home.

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XOXO,

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

30 DAYS OF SPRING

“When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too longAnd you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong

Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows

Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose” – Bette Middler, The Rose.

It has been two months since the last blog post went live. I was away from blogging for two months, not only because of lack of motivation but also because of the demanding nature of the MBA, too many visits and assignments and lack of motivation.
The last sixty odd days of winter was not only  cold and harsh but also was life altering for me at a more spiritual level. There was a part of me that I always kept clinging onto and quite like the snow that refused to melt on my rooftop, I grew more and more stubborn.
But then came the last day of the winter, when people spoke about how spring was around the corner, and I headed out to submit my visa papers for the next phase of my life wondering how even in detesting someone or something we are holding onto the very idea of not letting go and not living entirely.
That day when I submitted my visa documents, I think I submitted a bit more than that.
And finally, this year, when spring came, I started being happy once again, exactly the way I used to be three years back. I started enjoying my solitary times, and I started enjoying my company.  It was a revelation of sorts but the more I spent time with myself, the more I figured out the kind of person I am and the kind of people I want in my life.
Metaphorically, Spring is the season of transformation, where old gives way to new, the snow melts and the flowers bloom, and how glad are you to know that the transformation happens not only on the outside but within you too.
People will tell you how to live your life but no one can live it for you. From living with roommates to living alone, I have figured out the kind of person I want to be and the kind of company I prefer and sometimes being stuck with bad company can also be beneficial towards your development.
All in all, the season ended and began with two versions of myself and I couldn’t be happier.
It is so important to give yourself the time to grow and develop, neglecting that is beyond ridiculous.
Also, spring is the season of the amazing tulips and the flowers that bloom at every nook and corner. After having found my vigour, I decided to go for the Tulip show in Istanbul at the Gülhane Park and man, it was amazing!
Coordinating a bit with the floral theme that was clearly in the air and in my life, I decided to wear a floral patterned maxi dress  with a knit wear shrug, accessorising with the hexagon glasses (back to being my favourite) and the golden hoops (aka 90’s style).
This spring felt so good, so purifying and so cleansing. I was at pure bliss with my inner-self and these 30 days of Spring I enjoyed in Istanbul will be a time I will cherish forever.
Like I said how spring is also a period of transformation, or heralding the new times,  there couldn’t be a better time to share with you guys that  I am starting a new life and a new home next week? Talk about timing.
Stay tuned this time for more blog posts than ever.
Lots of love,
XOXO
PS: Check out my Spring video below!
Shot on iPhone 7 plus
Written by Adhisa Ghosh

TROY

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.”

Needless to say, my initial plan was to stay put at home and binge watch movies and cook up some storm in the kitchen, but on a complete impulsive urge, I decided to go for a trip on the 25th of December.

Having always had a penchant for historical places and archaeology, I decided to visit the ruins of Troy in the Çanakkale district of Turkey. Çanakkale is a city in northwestern Turkey in the Marmara region, on the Dardanelles Strait. It’s a gateway to the Gallipoli WWI battlefields, north of the narrow strait. On the grounds of the 15th-century Çimenlik Castle, Çanakkale Naval Museum Command contains historical artillery. The archaeological site at Troy, including an ancient theater, is southwest of the city.

Now, most of you are aware of the story of Troy, thanks to our history texts and the movie that was so well made, even the horse from the movie stands on the shore of this city. So in totality I got to see two Trojan horses. The second one that stands in the premises of the ruins of Troy, is designed by a Turkish architecture.

Coming back to my impulsive decision, I had to report for the travel at 6 am in the morning. I literally woke up at 430 am, bearing the freezing cold, made my way to the spot only to be kept waiting for an hour before the journey actually began.

I have not felt that kind of excitement in a really long time. I could not wait to reach the destination and adding to the happiness was the fact that it was my first solo trip. When we stopped for a break, I was more than trilled to see snow around me as it is yet to snow in Istanbul and I was running around like a child, trying to capture as much as possible.

On the trip, after being on road for five hours, we reached and were to have lunch. That’s when I met the others who had taken the same tourism package and I was so happy to make a good friend in Augusto who was visiting from Ecuador. Both of us were headed towards Troy, so our tour guide took us on a ferry across the Dardanelles Strait, and after a 25 minute drive, we reached the ancient site.

The fascination of seeing the ruins of the past still stand during these times and to be actually able to see the various sites was an experience I don’t think I can translate into words.

At the end of the day, while me and Augusto were sipping coffee on the Mediterranean sea, I looked around and realised that sometimes travelling is more than just visiting a destination. It is the journey that counts, it really does wonders to your mind. As for me, there is nothing I like more than talking to different people, making friends out of strangers, knowing their culture, hearing them talk about their stories and seeing their eyes gleam whenever they talk about love and passion.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, no matter how far you travel or what you see,  you realise that people will come and go, and if you are lucky enough you might get to be a part of someones story in the future, but universally, human emotions will always be a constant.

Travel before you have to actually settle, and even when you do, never underestimate the peace of mind that travelling brings to you. Just pack your bag, be whimsical and head out. It is really not the destination thats important, but what you make of the journey that counts.

Also, below is a video from Troy. Hope you guys like it.

XOXO.

PS : Best Christmas ever!

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

ODE TO 2017, HOLIDAY LETTER

Dear Life,

I know we have been upset with each other for a really long time. I know that things haven’t been giving us happiness, even success has been feeling hollow of late. I know i have been unfair in my ways, I haven’t treated you with love or kindness, all i have done is made a big fat pretence. Pretence so good, that everyone believes that things are good, that we are happy, that we are successful, that we have the sun shinning bright on us every day.

On the contrary i know how most of this year has been. I know we have had issues, we have been mistreated, we have been hurt, our egos have been shattered, our confidence lowered, all our hopes, all the love we had, had been bundled in a sack and snatched away from us. I know we were left in darkness, darkness we were grappling with and trying to construct in some positive way to make sense for us. I know each second, each minute, each hour, each day was a constant battle to fight that heaviness off our chest, to not get delusional and to focus on the need of the hour. I know we have battled our inner demons, we sat through some bitter times in the darkness of our room only wishing that the statement “ In the dark there maybe fear but there is also hope” comes true. And i know that the nights came extremely hard on us trying every way to choke us, to rip us off, skin and flesh.

But despite all of that, all the fights, the innumerable break downs and the questionable amount of fat intake to tame the ricocheting hormones and the howls of a broken heart and misplaced sense of trust, look, oh just look how far we have come.

You and I are a strong team, and we can beat all odds together. This is a proof, because we made it. And not even for once did we let go of each other, We held on. We held on good. Even when there was negativity and series of failures shrouding our sense of justice, our hard work and solidarity, we were doubted and frowned upon, asked to correct our ways, yet no one saw the battles we silently won each moment in the battlefield of our lives, when every time we overlooked a negative criticism that could have brought us down, only we know how we never let any element of self doubt or the negative vibes seep into our souls through our cracked portrayal of ourselves. We hid, and we hid well. We remained adamant, we held our ground and we turned around.

I know that even after achieving a lot of success, after many a moment of crowning glory, we never felt that we should stop, we kept moving aggressively. And we never let any joy or any sense of satisfaction seep, we were very hard on ourselves , weren’t we?

Holding ourselves guilty for every little smile, every bit of compliment, every little pressure. We had started to get comfortable with the negative space, with loneliness, in a way that we no longer identified with it, yet a state that we once immensely enjoyed.

We said goodbyes with our hearts and yet something always held us back. We were too attuned to being obsessed with ambition and success, to overshadow the shortcomings of our personal failures in relationships and everything else and you and I know very well how much we have condemned ourselves to an emotional hell hole of a torture for mistakes that weren’t even ours to begin with. Our love was misplaced, we forgot that we have certain duties to ourselves first, we looked through the tinted glasses for way too long.

But today I promise you this, that things are going to change because i am going to be kind and i am going to love you and not punish you for other people’s mistakes. I have been unfair but i cannot kill my shadow. My parents didn’t raise us with a wolf on our chest, howling inside for every small moments of grief. We are over that now, we are done for good. And it is only because today, I choose you.

Yours forever.

Written on April, 2017

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

OF NEW BEGINNINGS

“And suddenly you know, it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

Fresh starts. Beginnings. The first day. Orientation. New life.

I think there is a little part inside us that always craves for hope, to start anew. So, I have been saying how I am settled in Istanbul now for my MBA in Luxury Brand Management at IFA Paris, studying at the Kadir Has University here. I will be here for six months before moving onto Paris for a year as a part of the course program.

I have had a little problem to figure my way around initially but since the time I have had Akshita, my classmate and roommate from Bangalore, move in with me here, I have had some good company and its much easier to figure things out when you have someone at your end. Even getting lost can be okay sometimes as long as you are not alone.

So, I have only had one day of class so far which was very interesting. I always like when I am well prepared and I am able to answer any questions thrown at me, knowing that I am very competitive and I struck a good chord with my Professor Catherine then and there. We spoke a lot about the cult of emerging luxury markets and details about the same, while realising the whole time that I had really studied a lot as a graduation student back in Symbiosis when we had Fashion Brand Management classes. I aced it.

Moving on, we had our orientation yesterday, which was very interesting. We are a small bunch of students here who chose the Istanbul program, rest are in Shanghai and Paris at the moment so we obviously see everyone and become an entire batch when we are in Paris next year.  After the introductions and going through the technicalities and know-hows of college life and how it would be for the next six months, our coordinator decided to take us out for welcome drinks.

We took a bus near Taksim , a really popular tourist district here which is both near to where I live and the university. After a brisk walk, we came in front of the Galata towers which is extremely famous and a must see. Right opposite the Galata Towers is a place called Sensus Wine Boutique. Needless to mention, that it was a beautiful aesthetic place and I felt like I had walked into one of those modernised wine cellars where vintage meets modernity.

What can I say, it seemed like the perfect marriage of the past and the present. Small tables with candles, the aroma of wine and cheese, and a piano where live music would soon take over, it was a very nostalgic and cozy place, it transported me to a mood which I would have honestly enjoyed sitting alone with my glass of some really good wine. I think I have this problem where I need to put up a social exterior to talk to people whereas I would be honestly enjoying the voice of the old man singing Roberta Flack’s Killing me Softly on the piano and having my cheese and just enjoy my company. Now, I know that would make me antisocial and to a certain extent I feel I am but I have been doing well in keeping up the tempo of socializing.

There are three of us from India, one from Indonesia and one from South Africa. We all come from diverse backgrounds, and experiences but while sitting at the table with our glasses, all we were reminiscing majorly about was home, excluding me. Reflecting on the conversation I think home for me are just my parents who I carry in my heart no matter where I would live.

The art of detachment is crucial and so is the habit of adaptation. Missing my rice and fish curry is an obvious but I am also realising learning and mixing with a culture is as important as knowing your roots. You will always miss your roots because that is where you were nurtured but as you grow older, you have to start accepting that your roots are something you carry with you everywhere you go. Change is the only constant and at every moment you are a different person showing certain aspects of your personality, trying to fit in. At the table, looking around Akshita, Karishma, Tshepiso and Ismail, I couldn’t help but wonder about how little we had in common when it came to everyone’s opinions but how sometimes we still tend to be together despite our differences. I realise that people miss home and they try to make a home out of every place they go to. But there are certain aspects about humanity and human beings that are so universal, be it India, Istanbul or South Africa, human emotions are a constant.

In this race and chase of trying to establish our identities, starting fresh and new beginnings, what if we realise it is not the fresh start that matters at all? What if men will always have their biased opinions irrespective of changes and modernisation and we will always be stereotyped as women have been for years ? I think there are these characteristics that I see in men here too in Istanbul, the point of self-glorification and the need to always prove their mettle because of their respective gender is real.

So ultimately, roots are not connected to where you belong to, you see your real roots are what you have been formed into, how you have moulded yourself and can you really break free from the patriarchal mindsets that are so prevalent universally? We play along, sure, but when out of everyone at the table you take a moment back and observe, you understand in people’s reactions and stories who they really are, it gives away more than you can imagine. You can always project an illusion of being social but you know it’s only an illusion because in your head, you are reading everyone and understanding how similar we all are at the end of the day, despite the differences.

Also, the bartenders were very cute. I got a lot of pretty smiles and come again next time statements and well we know there are always next times, but should we wait and see how this story pans out for the next six months?

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Shot on Iphone7plus

ISTANBUL-OF THE PAST&PRESENT

I have been in this city since Monday now, after 24 hours of travel from Pune, and I am so glad to have completely fallen in love with this country, of whatever little I have seen in these two days. The weather, the people, the whole culture, Istanbul seems to be the perfect marriage of its past and present, of the old and the new. The city of Istanbul is important to geography because it has a long history that spans the rise and fall of the world’s most famous empires. Built by emperors and buried by emperors too many times, the city stands on the ruins of its past, glorifying the history of the present. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, located on the Bosporus Strait it covers the entire area of the Golden Horn – a natural harbor. Because of its size, Istanbul extends into both Europe and Asia. The city is the world’s only metropolis to extend into more than one continent.

Due to its participation in these empires, Istanbul has also undergone various name changes throughout its lengthy history.

HISTORY OF ISTANBUL IN BRIEF

BYZANTIUM ERA – THE ROMAN EMPIRE (330-395 CE)-THE BYZANTINE (EASTERN ROMAN) EMPIRE (395-1204 AND 1261-1453 CE)-THE LATIN EMPIRE (1204-1261)-THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE (1453-1922)-THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY (1923-TODAY)

Also known as the European Capital of Culture because of its melting pot of populace and various religions as well as culture, Istanbul maintains that fine distinguishing line that let’s a traveller understand the many mysteries and tales that this city hides. Since my hotel is located at the heart of European side of Istanbul, at Gülhane Park, I decided to take a trip to the very very famous Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

After having a brilliant breakfast, I strolled out, taking in the beautiful breeze and the good looking men. After about 600meters, I reached my first destination.

HAGIA SOPHIA

One of the most mysterious and extremely written about monuments in the city’s history, the Hagia Sophia survived earthquakes, religious power struggles, and has been a church (basilica), a mosque and is now a museum. It is known as the Ayasofya in Turkish, and was dedicated to the Wisdom (Sophia) of God. There were once two more churches that were regarded as “Churches of Divine Wisdom” but the Hagia Sophia is the last that remains.

From the time of its construction between 532 and 537 AD, on the orders of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, through to 1453 AD, the Hagia Sophia served as a cathedral for the Eastern Orthodox Church. However, Constantinople, as Istanbul was once called, was conquered by the Ottoman Turks at this time, and the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque by order of Sultan Mehmed II. Relics such as the shroud of Mary, nails from the true cross and the tombstone of Jesus were some of its treasures, until the city was ransacked during the Fourth crusade. It remained in use as a mosque until as recently as 1931, when it was closed down for four years to be reopened as a museum in 1935 by the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

When I entered the monument, I was not only transported to a different time, but I could also decipher the existence of two most primary religion. While the Islamic sanctions remains, right above the structure is Virgin Mary, holding baby Jesus, protected by Archangels Gabriel and Michael. Also, guarding above the door are two angels, guardians of the heaven. As one enters, one sees the ceiling that was built at a height so high that it was supposedly a doorway to heaven.  Apart that, there are a couple of tombstones that one can see around the monuments, and one of the largest baptism area that Istanbul had in those days. As Hagia Sophia maintains the balance between the two religious powers, I couldn’t help but wonder how difficult was it for humanity to co-exist so peacefully?

THE BLUE MOSQUE / SULTANAHMET MOSQUE

Istanbul’s Blue Mosque is also known as Sultanahmet Mosque, named after Sultan Ahmet I who wished to build an Islamic place of worship that would compete with the Hagia Sophia. The two places of worship now stand side by side for visitors to judge which is the more extraordinary of the architectural marvels. Mosques traditionally have one, two or four minarets. What makes the Blue Mosque unique as it boasts six minarets. Although the main west entrance is far grander than the north entrance, non-worshippers are asked to use the north entrance, like I was, to keep the mosque’s sacredness intact. The Blue Mosque’s interior is lit with two hundred and sixty windows which were once filled with stained glass of the seventeenth century. Unfortunately they have been lost and replaced with replicas far more inferior. The mosque’s interior has 20,000 blue tiles that line its high ceiling. The oldest of these tiles feature flowers, trees and abstract patterns that make them fine examples of sixteenth century Iznik design.

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Shot on Iphone7plus

MY ISTANBUL PACKING WITH AFAMADO

So my departure is close, and I am a bit upset with a heavy heart as saying goodbyes and leaving home is tough, especially when there is no guarantee of a return. I have just three days in hand which means ideally I should have started packing by now and progressed with checklists, but here I am, writing a post for you guys, telling you how difficult it is to pack 23 years in 2 suitcases over three days.

Since my departure to Istanbul is on Sunday and that country is going to be my home now for a long time for my MBA, I have been thinking of taking some modest yet stylish dresses because I need clothes and makeup to survive. While listing down the dresses and clothes and shoes of late, I came across this very pretty floral, double-flap neck white dress from the brand Afamado. It is so elegant and stylish, it was definitely in my “Take” list. I love the fact that it totally reflects my sense of personal style and comfort and their variety is endless.

I think Istanbul is looking a lot better as I am trying to pack my way through. What do you think?

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Photography by Manjari Singh