Not just Paris

Yesterday I spent my time after work looking for a frame of reference in which to situate an article I’d read about refugee “hunter” police in Bulgaria, who, in 2015, stop refugees walking through the country, which is obviously already no picnic, ask for their phones so they can’t record anything or get in touch with anyone, and then torture them – kick them “like footballs,” beat them with the ends of hammers.

I walk into a multi-million euro complex, past white linen tablecloths and perfectly polished silverware set up for conference, to edit an article about the refugees in Bulgaria who have nothing – and somehow even that is being taken. My settled-upon frame of reference – the fact that the nothing being taken from them, the little bit of life that is being beaten out of them, is not being taken by me, still feels flimsy.

My partner bikes to work and sits down at his desk as the news about Paris breaks. It’s just after 10 pm on a Friday, and even the fact that he’s working alone seems somehow coordinated: attacks are meant to catch people off guard; no one could come in and report about Paris because people need some time away from the news too – but the attackers knew that, and that’s why they chose to strike a friendly football match, a restaurant, a concert.

I was on Twitter about three minutes before the racist xenophobes popped up, blaming refugees and open borders for last night’s attacks in Paris, thinking that by coming to Europe they somehow brought the Syrian war with them. If we could somehow put an end to bloody attacks on innocent people just trying to live their lives with their families and friends, do they think would we have war refugees? Do people actually not realize this is precisely the type of thing that has caused these people to flee?

The provocative trolls were outnumbered, at least on Twitter, by the folks giving their safe locations to those stuck in the troubled areas, by those giving eyewitness accounts, those passing on news about taxi drivers turning off their meters, those condemning the attacks and sharing messages of solidarity with victims and their loved ones – but the others were – and still are – there for everyone to see and to read…and their way of thinking is the crux of the problem.

The one friend I have in Paris happens to be from the coastal Mediterranean city of Latakia, Syria. When we were in Istanbul together, we would clean the apartment while listening to Pink Floyd as loud as we felt like. The apartment in Uskudar ended up being demolished, but the techniques he showed me about cleaning like “throwing the water” never will be. We both always had time to make it look nice in there – at least as nice as we could.


Well, I just wrapped up my first online photography course, so I thought I would share my ten best images. They appear in chronological order with the original title assignments provided by #photo101.  Enjoy!!

1.) NOV. 2nd: HOME

I look to the seagulls out my bedroom window to tell me what kind of day it’s going to be.  In this morning shot, they are already looking toward Istanbul.

2.) NOV. 3rd: STREET

It’s a colorful neighborhood anyway, but I was lucky to stumble upon this trifecta of blue sky, red awning and yellow car in the Kustepe/Sisli neighborhood of Istanbul .

3.) NOV. 4th: WATER

Leaving Kadikoy on my commute from the island, the sun was shining, and this coquettish boat was flirting with me.

4.) NOV. 9th: CONNECT

This chain elegantly protects passengers from the Marmara.


Fountain in fall
I thought I might have to give up on getting my “natural world” shot as it was dark when I got out of class, but a cut through Gezi Park afforded this view of fall leaves in a sleepy fountain.


One of my seagulls again, middle photo of “Playing with Light” assignment, 11:00ish Saturday.

7.), 8.): NOV. 18th: MOMENT

The moment this ferry worker sat down for a rest, island lights having just gone on
was almost too much for me: cobalt-blue sky, bright orange pixie lights.

9.) NOV. 24th: GLASS

Looking out the window of my friend’s flat in Moscow just days before the first big snowfall of the winter.

10.) NOV. 27th: TRIUMPH

Old friends, new friends (see reflection in wine opener), framboise macaroons, and finally getting to see Paris: indeed, a lot for which to be thankful. Cheers, #photo101!