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One Picture Story: Istanbul

Hüzün. The turkish word for melancholy is beautifully explained in an entire chapter of Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul: Memories and the City. I haven’t been able to finish this book, even though it’s been a while since I got back from Istanbul. Much like the book, the city is deep, complex and takes forever to understand. It takes forever to peel back its layers and unearth centuries of stories, of a tumultuous journey as its identity changed from Byzantium to Constantinople and then to Istanbul. Walking around, especially in the winter I find a shroud of despair that’s been pulled like a blanket over the city and its people. From crumbling houses that reek of rotten and blackened wood, to ruins of city walls around every corner, to ancient mosques badly in need of a facelift, there are remnants of this city’s past every which way I look. Remnants that I now understand do not let the city ever forget or shrug off its past. Staring the residents in their face every day is testimony of their once sumptuously wealthy past that crumbles beneath the austerity of their present. I now understood, that inexplicable sentiment that permeates the city. The unspoken sentiment captured in this  photograph of an old house that sits above a gigantic underground stable in Sultanahmet. The melancholy. The Hüzün.

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“One Picture Story: Istanbul”

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