After months of (sort of) planning and anticipating, Helen and I have finally arrived and begun settling ourselves in Istanbul. We’ve got a small but pleasant apartment in a hip and rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, not unlike so many of our friends living in New York. The difference is that we have a balcony from which we can watch tankers and ferries glide along the Bosphorus. We’re still getting our bearings in Istanbul, learning how to get around, picking up basic phrases getting familiar with the sights and sounds and smells of Turkey’s largest city.
This seems like an appropriate time to resume my blogging endeavors and to, yet again, attempt to make the upkeep of this blog a regular habit. I’ll start by trying to explain why I’m here. Over the past few months as people asked me why Helen and I were moving to Istanbul of all places, I would often just reply with “Why not?” But there are actual reasons we decided to come to a totally new place where neither of us speak the language (yet) or have any experience.
I’ll admit off the bat that part of why we chose Istanbul is because the city seems fabulous. The weather and the food appeal to us. There is an endless supply of nice restaurants and pleasant bars and places to sit and look at the water. And there’s nothing wrong with moving to a place because it seems like a nice place to live.
There are, of course, more substantial reasons why we chose Istanbul. For Helen, an artist, the city has a large and growing arts community that is innovative and important. The neighborhood where we are now living is teeming with galleries and we’re about a quarter mile from a world-class modern art museum.
But why did I want to move here? As a journalist, I think that Turkey is an important place to be, in many ways much more important than Egypt, where I was living and working last year. This is actually the real point I wanted to make with this blog post, though I’ve kind of buried the lead now.
As the U.S. declines and other countries rise, the world is becoming ever more multipolar. This isn’t a secret and it’s not some kind of out there theory, it’s just what’s happening. For better or worse (I think for better), the United States can no longer be the sole important country in the world and other capitals will have to pick up the slack. Turkey, because of its size, its economy, its geography, is picking up a lot of this slack. I think it will be interesting to see the reconfiguring international order from this vantage point.
So there you have it. A re-inaugural blog post outlining what we’re doing here. I hope you’ll be able to follow along as I blog about my and Helen’s life together on the shores of the Bosphorus and Turkish politics, along with plenty of other stuff about food and Egypt and folk music and everything else.
Photo from my flickr account.