Interview with Zekeriya S. Sen (Istanbul Spotter)

Today an interview with Zekeriya S. Sen, Spotter for our newly launched Istanbul cityblog.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a professional travel man but I tend to be more known for my music critics that I write on daily basis in my website. My total orientation is to promote world music to the people out there. I also present a radio show in 94,9 Acik Radyo ( a non-profit Radio in Istanbul) every Sunday between 12.00-13.00 again promoting world music. Also I love taking photographs but I never consider myself as an expert in this route as I believe with modesty you prosper more.

I am also devoted to culture; to experience the “other” ways of living, eating, observing and travel. I believe that mutual language is to understand the culture of others. I am a devotee for travel, music and photography. I love to experience world music as well, the music out there that opens up the minds and crushes down boundaries.

Why Istanbul?
Because Istanbul is unique…
Athens, Alexandria, Antioch, Rome, or those that have come after, such as Baghdad and Damascus… These are cities with mono-culture, cities that do not host a historical continuity or multi-cultural component.

In the 17th century no city could compare to Istanbul. Istanbul is “The City” (sehr-i yegane), peerless and unprecedented. That is why Napoleon said, ‘If the world was only one country, Istanbul would be its capital’.

Pierre Gilles, who came to Istanbul in the 16th century to research the topography of ancient objects and structures, and whose work is still a primary reference, has this to say at the beginning of his book: ‘All the other cities are mortal, but I think Istanbul will live as long as mankind exists. ‘A Chinese writer refers to Istanbul as ‘the city of cities’.

Anna Comnena, daughter of the Byzantine Emperor, who meticulously described the Istanbul of her day in her renowned chronicle of her father’s rule, called this city ‘the queen of cities.’

We call it ‘the legendary city’.

Which prejudices about Istanbul are true?
Unfortunately spitting on the side-walks is a very true fact about Istanbul. In the recent years Istanbul has adsorbed a serious immigration from all over and hence people come with their own cultures. Normally the gentlemen and the ladies of true Istanbul are no longer valid or are in minorities. Due to these immigrants at certain stages I believe in the near future we should put up signs like “no spitting”.

Another truth is that again most of the people love to smoke where ever its forbidden to smoke. They believe its their invasion of privacy with no respect to others.

Which are not?
As for as the not true ones;
No, in Istanbul theft is very minor when compared to other European cities. As long as you don’t tempt thieves by going all along into dead end dark roads you will not and never have a problem. Unfortunately totally the opposite is being prejudicially promoted abroad about Istanbul. It’s a safe city when compared with all the rest.

Another matter is the fact that Istanbul is a European city and has nothing to do with the Arab world. The prejudice approach of foreigners considering Istanbul as an Arab city totally based on illiteracy and ignorance. The ladies here dress as any modern European would and no, not all the men have beards and yes we do drink alcohol and believe me a lot.

What is the most popular neighbourhood to live in Istanbul at this moment?
I believe for a local and even an ex-pat the best neighbour to live is around Bagdat Caddesi (street). Its on the Asian side, in a very relaxing atmosphere where you are able to reach everything in just few minutes. Shopping, parks, the sea, restaurants etc. are just a few steps away all located in a compact area. The atmosphere is clean and decent, where you still have people saying “good morning” to each other. It has the flavour of modern and old leisure Istanbul where you can still observe 2 store villas with green gardens.

Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
A perfect day for me would be to cross to the European side with the public steamboat. Take the tram and go up to the Historical Peninsula where I would have a variety of places to visit (i.e. St. Sophia, The Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, The Archaeological Museum, The Mosaic museum, The Grand Bazaar and or the Underground Cistern). I will choose one of the spots according to my mood or just stroll through these places with my camera.

In the afternoon I will take a ride to Nisantasi where I will feast my tummy in Kantin Restaurant ( the chef is the Turkish version of Alice Waters) with a huge bowl of soup and my favourite salmon çitir (a small thin pizza).

Then I will spend most of my time in Homer Book store and Lale Music shop. To finish the day off have a lovely cold beer with my better-half in one of the small bars in the galata area. What else can I ask for. It would be a perfect day for me in the city I love.

Check out all Zekeriya S. Sen’s articles and the other interviews with our Spotters.

Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)