Preparations

Klaus, the tutor of the workshop, sent us a link to this great page with old photos of Kadıköy. It’s funny how at the moment I’m building an image, an conception of this place only out of photos and texts. But I guess that is why I wanted to start this blog so that I can follow this process and when I’m there compare it with what I actually see.

As I have no idea about Istanbul and Turkey except hearing about stuff on the news (Kurdish question or the headscarf debate) or reading in the history books (Otoman empire and its influence on Serbia) or the very few things I learned from living in Kreuzberg and Berlin with it being the biggest Turkish settlement outside of Turkey (at least that is what people say), I thought I should read some books beforehand, get informed. It is scary how little I really know what with living in Germany and having this big Turkish community here – and I’m not an exception.

So I read two books in the last few days that were helpful. One is “Türkei. Ein Land jenseits der Klischees” by Jürgen Gottschlich which is a perfect introduction if you have no idea like me. It gives an overview about the history, politics, everyday culture, mentions some films and books, so that I now feel that I have a basis where I can dig deeper. Of course it would be great if I could speak some Turkish but I guess I won’t manage to learn more than evet, lütfen and merhaba in the month that is left until the trip.

The other book that I’m still reading but that I like so far is “Gebrauchsanweisung für Istanbul” by Kai Strittmatter – also very basic but with a more essayistic/poetic style so that one gets more of the atmosphere I guess. I have a lot of texts about city development and urbanism that the course tutor gave us but before delving into that I needed to have some kind of footing. Also these texts are a bit dry sometimes – oh well. I have two novels by Orhan Pamuk that I want to read: “Istanbul. Memories and the city” and “The museum of innocence” that a friend recommended (also going there – to the museum I mean). So a lot of work but I think the photos will be better for that.

We had the first prep meeting on Monday and the group seems to be pretty diverse. The tutor has a discoursive arty approach but most of the people seem to be more interested in nice pictures. I am definitely into the discourse and the art stuff but I think I’m the only one. The age range is also a bit different than in the other courses I took at the school (VHS Friedrichshain Kreuzberg). It seems to me that the people are older. Maybe the younger ones can’t afford the trip. I was the odd one out also not wanting to stay at the hotel because I find it too expensive. I found a room near it privately (through airbnb) where I pay a third for my own single room than I would at the hotel. It’s within walking distance so that shouldn’t be a problem. If not for that I would have paid more and would have had to share with someone I don’t know. So this is better.

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