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

Nº3 MONTMARTRE STORY

“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there.” – Hemingway

Living in the city of love is surreal. There have been moments while strolling around the city or walking around in Montmarte, I have always experienced things from a different perspective, in a different mood.

For a very long time this week, I dallied along the lines of how I wanted this blog to turn out. Should I make it a clichéd article? Talking about what kind of a place Montmarte is, the must-visit spots or the touristic routines. On a second thought, I even began to recall from my visits, a few pointers about Montmarte to give to my readers – but then, my whole point of sharing with you the reality of the place is amiss.

Nonetheless, to brief you, Montmarte is a large hill in Paris’ 18th arrondissement. It is a major tourist attraction for its quaint picturesque neighbourhood, artists corner and cafes. Montmarte is also the destination of the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur, Ernest Hemmingway and Picasso, Vlamenck, Derain, Soutine, Modigliani, Van Gogh and countless others who lived and worked in these narrow streets. You could find wall plaques identifying buildings and cafes as historic. “Hemmingway once peed in our bathroom…” etc.

The other major attraction is the Basilica Sacre-Coeur, built only a century ago, after the French were embarrassed by a brief but successful occupation by the Germans in 1870 under Bismark’s Prussian army. The Basilica is based in Roman architecture and took over 40 years to build. From a distance, the stark white domes are powerful and imposing. During WWII, 13 bombs are said to have landed on the church, but without resulting in casualties, which lent the place special status among the local people. Atop the dome, you get an entire view of the city including the Eiffel Tower.

What makes Montmarte so special? The peace inside the Basilica is incomparable, I have sat there for hours on many occasions. I still remember how it feels like every part of the locality whispers its secrets to you.

Take a walk in Montmarte and you will know what I mean. How would you feel when the guy sitting outside strums his guitar and sings one of your favourite song? How would you feel if you were transported in another world of art and era?

How do you feel knowing that you tread on the same cobbled stones which were once daily routes for Van Gogh and Hemingway? How do you feel just existing in that moment, breathing the same air and feeling the beauty of a past somewhere trapped in its transition? How do you feel, when every part of your soul tells you that this was the moment writers craved for?

That these were the corners that buried more than a painting, these were the bars and cafes where kisses were shared in secrecy, where tall claims of love were made in declaration. These were the places that gave many their heroic moments, that gave many their firsts of things. How do you not revel standing in a town that still keeps its magic simply by existing?

The more I am there, the more enamoured I have felt of how Montmarte, my most favourite part of Paris is. Montamarte whispers to you in love and secrecy when you are there with a unattached mindset. It makes you believe that there is always a next time for everything in life, that life goes around in a circle and what’s meant to be will always, always find you.

And in that moment, I swear, we are infinite.

XOXO,

Adhisa

Nº2 MORNINGS IN PARIS

There is no feeling in the world that compares to waking up in Paris and understanding that life will never be the same again. From small bakeries and boulangeries filling the streets, to the quiet stylised hustle of Parisian life, the aroma of croissants and freshly baked baguettes fill the stony cobbled roads and lanes.

On many mornings, I used to wake up at the sound of the truck below my apartment, the bakery opening at 7am while its still pitch dark and people waiting in a queue patiently to get their respective fill of coffee and croissant. Not only is it the go to breakfast but also amidst the hustle of catching the next metro and walking everywhere, its the one torrid breakfast affair that no Parisian would compromise.

Many a times, I used to wake up before sunrise, go down and enjoy waiting in the queue while my stomach growled. Taking my cup of cappuccino and a beurre croissant – I would go behind at the canal near my house and sit on the stone platforms.

Something about the sight of water taking its natural course, the coolness and purity of it all used to be a great way to rejuvenate my mind. There were many mornings when after this private rendezvous, I used to go to the weekend market which happened right opposite my apartment.

It used to be my best part of morning routines and shopping! Not only were the weekend market places my absolute favourite but seeing everyone be so tuned into picking up fresh vegetables and grocery used to really make my day .

It was my only solace where I used to feel like I was making very important life choices tbh. There is something about picking up your food, sniffing it (if you are weird like me), feeling the texture of the ingredients and then cooking the same.

The bustle of a market place and the rush of people walking in, talking over each other, some bargaining some checking the quality of products etc, it makes you feel familiar to the place you come from and helps you connect with the place you live at.

Chaos and commotion are not overrated. Take a moment sometime and freeze out amidst the crowd. Don’t you see what a small part of this madness you represent? Everyone is busy picking out their perfect ingredients, everyone is trying to get at least one thing right. We tend to be so hard on people sometimes that we often forget that everyone, despite the chaos and commotions are just picking out the right ingredient.

XOXO,

Adhisa Ghosh

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

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