'Not From Here,' stories by Nathan Deuel

Into the steam

Mihir and I — old friends reunited in Istanbul — paused in front of the Cemberlitas Hammam, which had been built in 1584 by Sinan, one of Turkey’s most celebrated architects. For nearly 500 years, the men of Istanbul had taken their ritual cleansings here, and it was our turn to join the long drip of history.

We descended the stairs, where we found a warm sitting room — a kind of lodge, really — peopled by men in various states of undress. Directed by an attendant, we took a pair of striped towels and repaired to a small changing room. Naked but for a towel, this old friend and I headed for the baths, led by a stooped old man who showed us into the main, domed room. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Uncategorized

In Istanbul, getting to Ikea and back

It’s not exactly a matter of life and death — procuring a high chair for my daughter from Ikea, in Istanbul — but that was the mission I found myself on last night.

I loaded up a leather satchel — keys, wallet, phone, a letter from a dear old friend in Riyadh — and headed down the hill. We live above “music street,” the winding cobble stone parade of shops selling drums, guitars, cymbals, horns, pianos, and the dreaded vuvuzela. A hilarious cacophony during the day, Galip Dede glows faintly and echoes with mewling cats at night.

Stepping around garbage, I found the alley of rough-cut stairs that leads to the water. Traffic was thin, and I dashed across slick streets to the Karakoy stop on one of the city’s main tram lines.

On the platform, affectionate couples nuzzled in the humidity and a ferry drew a long horn as it motored off into the Bosphorus chop. My wife was in Baghdad; encountering Joe Biden yesterday, she said the vice president’s teeth were blindingly white.

The tram trundled down the steel rails and I found a seat by a mute woman poking lazily into her smart phone. I took out the letter from my friend: Six hand-written sheets, sending sympathy for my dad, who died a few months ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Death, Istanbul, Turkey