Where in the World Are You, Christy Quirk?
Travel Blog • World Hum • 09.06.07 | 11:11 AM ET
The subject of our latest nearly up-to-the-minute interview with a traveler somewhere in the world: Christy Quirk, a writer and consultant. Her response landed in our inbox this morning.
World Hum: Where in the world are you?
I have been living in Istanbul, Turkey for eight months. I moved here from Kyiv, Ukraine. Before that, I lived in Baku, Azerbaijan, where my husband now runs a film production company. Istanbul is my reward for Kyiv’s winters and Baku’s coarseness.
What are you doing there?
What do you see around you?
My Ottoman-era wood house overlooks an historic but defunct yellow hamam on a street known for its antique dealers. The neighborhood is gentrifying rapidly. Film and photography studios sit at one end of the street while at the other, women in chador disappear into dark stairways and assorted livestock graze in the vacant lots. It’s Istanbul in one long, sort of messy, block.
Got a pic?
What did you have for dinner last night, and where?
Istanbul is full of restaurants with fantastic fish, restaurants with stunning views and restaurants with great service. Doga Balik in the Cihangir neighborhood of Beyoglu combines all three. It’s known for its unusual cold mezzes: seaweed, oysters, purslane, Aegean crab, watermelon greens and carrot greens, as well as all the usuals like peppers, eggplant and white beans in olive oil. It’s my favorite place to take visitors—it shows off Istanbul’s awesomeness with no effort on my part!
What music are you listening to these days?
I recently acquired Shakira’s whole discography, which is a lot more Shakira than an ordinary person needs. In between the five different versions of “Si Te Vas,” I hear the new Manu Chao, Amy Winehouse, the National, Rhett Miller as well as some overwrought but loveable Turkish power pop.
What are you reading?
I just finished Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West. It’s like HBO’s Deadwood on crystal meth—hyper-aggressive, spectacularly violent, unapologetically amoral and written in stark and beautiful prose. It made me homesick for the American desert, only without all the scalping. To recover, I picked up Christopher Buckley’s Florence of Arabia, which is especially hilarious if you’ve spent any time in the Muslim world.
What did you experience in the last 24 hours that you’d recommend?
I have the most beautiful dog walk, possibly in the universe. We started out at what I call the Stoner Stairs in Cihangir, where people who have a hard time fitting into Turkish society—drunks, people with dogs, pot smokers, anarchists, punks and shamans—like to congregate. After we chatted with the regulars, we crossed into a new park that has my favorite view in the whole city. On a clear day, you can see everything that makes Istanbul Istanbul: the dirty, red-roofed sprawl of Asia, all the way out to the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara; the pink blister of Aya Sofia and the five black-tipped needles of the Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet; the white and green ferries and tiny wood fishing boats dodging rusting Soviet-era freighters in the Bosporus. When the evening light was warm and the prayer calls echoed off the hills and water, I asked the dogs if they had any idea how lucky they are. But they were busy chasing dirty street cats.
Where in the world are you headed next?
I’m probably headed to Kabul this fall for a few weeks for work, as well Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and maybe Indonesia. For fun, my husband and I plan to visit a friend in Beirut. I’m always happy to come back to Istanbul. It’s a challenging enough place to live that I’m always a little off balance, but not so hard that I’m in a constant state of annoyance.