Inside the Blue Mosque

It is still early evening when I head to the blue mosque, at the heart of the Sultanahmet area in Istanbul. Despite the quickly fading sunlight, Sultanahmet is bustling and crowded as always, with tourists and touts, crafty shop-owners and wary shoppers. I ignore all the calls and offers of the locals and join the…

One river, two continents

The simit vendor shakes his fist at me. He is tired of tourists taking photographs of him and his pretty sesame-flecked looped bread without buying anything. On the other side, my friend is trying hard to not shake her fists at me; instead she points to her watch impatiently. We barely have time to grab…

Of Artemis and Amazons

This appeared in today’s Hindustan Times Cafe as ‘All the world’s a stage’ Elton John has performed there, St. John the Baptist is believed to have preached there. Fittingly, my defining moment at Ephesus too was at the amphitheatre – as I sat on one of the lower steps gazing at the empty space all…

Sirince: the pretty ugly village in Turkey

Sirince, 8 km up the hill from Selcuk (pronounced Sel-shuk) in Turkey, has the most interesting version of ‘beware of dog’ signboard ever to be invented. Sirince is pronounced Shi-rin-jay and means ‘pretty town’. A village of 700 odd inhabitants, Sirince was hidden well from public view for many many years. Unwilling to open up…