“Everyday life in Istanbul has never been described so vividly. Australian long-term resident in Turkey Lisa Morrow has an ability to take us on a tour of the regular street-market and with her words bring the sights, sounds, tastes and smells to life. Dipping in to her short story collection is like immersing all your senses in the melee that is Istanbul.
“In cities of this size a huge number of people living in close proximity can lead to alienation and a certain lack of soul. Yet despite the enormous mass of people in the city, Istanbul is really just a series of interconnected villages. Just like any village in any part of Turkey, my Istanbul neighbours gossip and help or hinder one another, the local shopkeepers know who has money and marriage problems, the watermen, tailors and shoemakers pool information about new residents, and everyone knows about the foreigner on their street.” That last phrase will strike a chord with any foreigner who’s lived here!
For Morrow, “Istanbul is the showcase of Turkey, not because of its history, archaeology or other inanimate qualities, but because of its people.” “Inside Out In Istanbul” – the very title expresses the upside-down, inside-out, back-to-front experience of living here as a foreigner. But this isn’t a book that pokes fun at locals in the isn’t-it-funny-they-do-that genre. Morrow, like many of us who live here, gets frustrated by the attitude of people who’ve never been and have the totally wrong impression of Turkey:
“Whenever I go back to Australia, one question everyone eventually asks me is, ‘Do you have to wear a headscarf?’ Outwardly I smile and try to answer politely, but inwardly I groan. I have lived in Turkey long enough for this question to represent what I see is a great ignorance about the country, and a willingness to accept the stereotypes presented in current affairs programs. These stereotypes always involve people from Afghanistan or the latest Islamic warzone, where women are oppressed, and the headscarf or all over body covering is the most obvious symbol of that oppression. The reasoning goes that if you live in a country that is Muslm, all the women there must be oppressed and you must be too.”
So, what’s her advice to the expat in Turkey?
“Living here means embracing the new and constantly reworking the old, never making plans more than a few days in advance that you can’t easily change, and being ready for anything.”
Most of the stories in this first edition of Inside Out In Istanbul have been incorporated into my travel novel “Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul”. Click here to buy a copy and read more about life in Istanbul today!