The illegal birdsong cafes of Istanbul -- "In Istanbul, men keep birds locked away in cages to encourage ever more mournful songs – and then gather to listen to their sorrow. Two photographers [Cemre Yesil and Maria Sturm] teamed up to chronicle this secretive subculture"
Why Istanbul Should Be Called Catstantinople: The city has long been famous for its large population of street cats, as reflected in a popular Instagram feed and upcoming documentary. “Being a cat in Istanbul is like being a cow in India,” said Sibel Resimci, a musician and confessed cat junkie who says her husband often walks nearly 2 miles to work rather than disturb street cats sleeping on his moped. “For generations, they’ve had a special place in the city’s soul.” [more inside]
The Imperial Kitchen
Among the kiosks, halls, reception chambers, and harem baths, I suspect that visitors today spend the least time of all in the palace kitchens—unless they have an interest in Chinese porcelain, which is displayed in there. Otherwise there’s nothing much to see, just a series of domed rooms. Outside you can count the ten pairs of massive chimneys, but there’s no smoke. It’s a pity that the building is so quiet, because it was in here, over four centuries, that one aspect of Istanbul’s imperial purpose was most vividly expressed.
The Far Post is a journalism series by Roads and Kingdoms and Sports Illustrated on global soccer culture that will run every other week until the start of "the largest theater that has ever existed in human history," the World Cup. So far there are five articles: Brazil 2014 Starts Now by Laurent Dubois gives an overview of the history of the World Cup and what it means now. Messi in Kolkata by Kanishk Tharoor is about a visit by the Argentine national team to Kolkata and the state of the game in India. Afghanistan United By May Jeong is the story of the incredible triumph of the Afghan national team at the 2013 South Asian Championship. Soccer and the Street in Istanbul by Izzy Finkel reports on the links between soccer and politics in Turkey. The Long Revolution of the Ultras Ahlawy by Patrick Kingsley is the account of how hardcore soccerfans in Egypt, at the center of the 2011 revolution, have fared in the aftermath.
"This morning, Turkish police surrounded protesters in Taksim Gezi park, the central square in Istanbul, blocked all exits and attacked them with chemical sprays and teargas. An Occupy-style movement has taken off in Istanbul." [more inside]
Nicholas Victor Artamonoff was a talented Russian amateur photographer who lived, studied and worked in Istanbul from the 1920s to the 1940s. He took many photos, mainly black-and-white, of architecture, archaeology, and street scenes, in Istanbul and also elsewhere in Turkey. A collection of images has now been made available by the Dumbarton Oaks Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives. [more inside]
Byzantium1200 is a project to create a 3d digital map of Constantinople and its famous monuments. The Hippodrome and Agia Sophia have been modeled as they would have appeared at their height. You can even watch a video of a Hippodrome race or see the results in book form.
Given how little thought India’s contribution to the World Wars gets in our collective historical memory, it is almost strange to think that in the First World War India made the largest contribution to the war effort out of all of Britain’s colonies and dominions. Close to 1,700,000 Indians – combatants and non-combatants – participated in WWI. My own area of interest is India’s role in the Mesopotamian theatre. [more inside]
For his 2008 novel The Museum of Innocence, about a man who obsessively collects objects associated with his beloved and eventually creates a museum of those objects in his beloved's old house, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk has built a museum in a house in Istanbul containing the objects mentioned in the novel, including a half-eaten ice cream cone (made of plastic) and 4,213 cigarette stubs, complete with lipstick and ice cream stains. Elif Batuman reports on how the museum, which opened in April, came to be.
Istanbul Photos If you love Istanbul like I do, and can't visit often enough, this is a fine place to get a virtual glimpse of all of it.
Out My Window (trailer) is the new web documentary from the Highrise project, one of the world's first interactive 360° documentaries. Delivered entirely on the web, it explores the state of our urban planet told by people who look out on the world from highrise windows. With more than 90 minutes of material, Out My Window features 49 stories from 13 cities, told in 13 languages.
Mimar Sinan; 16th century Ottoman Architect Mimar Sinan born a Christian in Anatolia, from either a Greek or Armenian background, was conscripted into Ottoman service in 1511, and converted to Islam. He was the chief Ottoman architect to four sultans. Sinan worked in seismic, as well as political, fault zones, and his buildings are famous for their earthquake resistance. His extraordinary output included 146 mosques. [more inside]
Baghdad is calm, except it's neither. So this guy Howard Kaloogian is running for Congress in California, and he supports the troops. Thinks they're making all sorts of progress that simply isn't reported by the evil lib'rul mainstream media, so he went to see Baghdad for himself, and posted a picture of a calm Baghdad street - See? No terrorists here! Except that certain sleuthing types found something awfully fishy about that photo...
Old Istanbul Postcards. If you have any fondness for old city views, this is irresistible. Here's a look at the Old City of Istanbul a hundred years ago (Hagia Sophia is just left of center), and here's the gate of the Ottoman War Ministry, now Istanbul University (map). There's lots more where those came from. (Via Desultory Turgescence.)
The Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul. Lavish treasures.