Libraries never fail to inspire me… SALT research library is definitely one of them. The amazing find of the week was Istanbul city telephone directories. I remember amusing myself with those bulky phone books when I was a kid. Maybe I was just practicing my mother tongue by saying words out loudly, but I admit now it must have been nerve-wracking for my mum.
When I picked them up this time, I was fascinated by the graphic design of the period, which, of course, I never got to recognize it back then. I realized that many companies dropped out of the business while some have managed to survive times and tides. Here is a bunch of my picks…
Above is the Blue Mosque famous for its 20,000 Iznik blue tiles.
Below is the Süleymaniye complex perching on the third hill of the city.
The Bosphorus bridge
On the cover of another directory is the Bosphorus bridge. This suspension bridge connecting Asia and Europe was completed in 1973. After the completion of a second bridge, we now refer to it as the first bridge. The third one is on its way at the expense of losing the northern forests -the lungs of the city. Its construction was fiercely opposed by the environmentalists and the locals. Nevertheless, the protests turned out to be a vain effort. One of its legs is now unfortunately standing in Poyrazköy, a village with a bay that once held a white flag for its clean waters.
Private numbers list…
Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi Mahdumları- Turkish coffee
Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi Mahdumları coffee brand and shop still ranks towards the top of itinerary list every tourist who visits the city. Yet, this does not mean it is not a local favourite since late 19th century. The logo nothing short of Metropolis, the German expressionist sci-fi by Fritz Lang still adorns the paper coffee packages and boxes. If you are around the Spice Market, do not get worried about how to spot its location; one long queue will take you to the shop!
Taksim Belediye Gazinosu
Taksim Municipal Leisure center was a handsome modernist building by the distinguished architect Rüknettin Güney, a building which I never got to see but heard a lot about in my childhood. It used to be on the east side of Taksim Gezi Park. The park, which you probably have heard of during the Gezi Park protests in the summer of 2013. In its heydays, the venue proudly hosted concerts by world-wide stars such as Dalida and Charles Aznavour before it was closed down in the late 60s only to give room to the construction of an international chain hotel.
Baylan, one of the oldest patisseries of old Pera
Baylan is still in the business so you can taste Cup Griye of the legendary sweet shop. Cup Griye -the sweet with ice-cream, whipped cream and honey-almond and caramel sauce- has remained their specialty and a classic since the day it was created on the premises. Old fashioned sweet shops are disappearing one by one so do not miss the opportunity when in the city. The Kadıköy branch is my favorite one!
“Auer, the dream of every woman. ” Oh, Really?
Old school patisserie and sweet shop: Görgülü and Koska
Both Görgülü Patisserie and Koska sweet shop are still in the business. I can never have enough of Görgülü’s chocolate-framboise cake. And Koska Helvacısı, with its sinful flavors, has made a big name in confectionary since the early 19th century. Among its traditional delicacies are helva, tahin (sesame seed paste), pekmez (molasses), hard candies, and Turkish delight. I am sure there is something for your sweet tooth!
Etiquette on how to talk on the phone: “Talking sweetly on the phone has immense benefits!”
Turkish wine: Kavalıdere
Kavaklıdere winery, the first private sector wine producer, ranks among the finest brands in the country.
Turkish chewing gum brand: Kent
Kent, Turkish chewing gum brand, created this nerdy character Tipitip when it first came out in the mid 70s… I watched the commercial years later and I admit it looks a bit creepy now. Yet, this chewing gum will spark the childhood memories of those grew up in the 70s and 80s. No longer available for it was sold to a British company.
IGS- once the leading Turkish company in garment industry
IGS was the pioneer of the ready-made garment industry in Turkey. Still in the industry.
Murat 124-Fiat cars with a Turkish name
Using a Turkish name- Murat 124, Fiat aimed to attract Turkish customers when it launched its production line in Turkey in the 70s. A common boys name, Murat and the design of the car itself appealed to the Turkish consumers and made a success. Especially its advertising campaign made a breakthrough in Turkish advertising. Though the production is over decades ago, you can still come across Murat cars in Istanbul.
Circumcision time for boys
And Kemal Özkan… the dreadful surgeon for every muslim boy in Istanbul, who has to go through circumcision at one point in their lives. Surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis as a religious rite of passage in Islam left me traumatized even though it was my brother who went through the process. Kemal Özkan was the most famous of all in the city.