AN AMERICAN FRIEND I had taught with in Taiwan beckoned me to Istanbul with tales of local men serenading Western women, luring them into love spells with baklava. Her descriptions of lunch by the seaside and bustling spice markets charmed me all the way to the travel agency.
“It’s my New York, but better,” she had said.
I got my suitcase and tea glass ready.
Upon arriving, a crowd of fake blondes congregated at the airport entry gates with the sort of urgency that says: “This is a great place.” Counting bright headscarf after bright headscarf, my first impression of Istanbul was part-Europe, part-Asia, and part hyperactive kid on the beach.
Now that I have been living and teaching in Istanbul for a few months, there’s still enough radiation to keep me feeling like a holiday girl, even teaching forty plus hours a week.