This evening, I’ll be flying to Istanbul. Tomorrow, I hope to visit some of the historic and religious sites that define the ancient city and on Sunday, I’ll be running from Europe to Asia. I hope all the high-altitude training that I’ve done in Erzurum will pay off (jk, my “training” consists of running once or twice a week and playing tennis).

It is a strange aspect of my reality that flying to Istanbul will bring me closer to home than I’ve been in 2 1/2 months. Furthermore, the city will be more European/Caucasian/Western than most of Erzurum. I could have never imagined that spending a weekend in Istanbul would be a chance to feel more at home (I plan to drink Starbucks and a few beers). Isn’t the “exotic” a flighty concept?

Speaking of the exotic, this is a great read from the New Yorker:
http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/notes-exotic
I love and fear this shiftiness of the “exotic.” The myriad ways it is used in polite or unthinking contexts makes all definitions insufficient. In Erzurum, I am the exotic one, my blond hair and blue eyes drawing near-constant attention. How should I respond? How do I attempt to humanize and explore and represent without merely re-presenting? (Sometimes I miss graduate school).

In other western-looking news, I’m planning to visit Cappadocia over Thanksgiving. I went to lunch with a girl who’s parents live in Cappadocia and operate a tourist bureau. She is going to help us find places to stay and a reasonable hot-air balloon ride. Look up Cappadocia if you’ve never seen pictures. Its a fairy-tale place of geological splendor. Or so I’ve bee told.
We ate the most amazingly delicious pide (sort of like a pizza but far more “exotic”):

Pide with mushrooms and lamb

Pide with mushrooms and lamb

We talked at our lunch about the Shiite/Suuni divide across Turkey and much of the Middle East. I was shocked, as I listened, to realize how closely the conversation pattern was to contemporary discussions of liberal/conservative divide in the US. She could have easily inserted “democrats/republicans” or “left/right” into most of her sentences. How uncanny to be half-way around the world producing such familiar discourse. Here is brief overview of the current conversation.

Off to the airport! Cheer me on as I cross the continents!

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