Showing posts with label fashion report. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fashion report. Show all posts

Monday, September 16, 2013

Yıldız Park Bridal Beauty

An exquisitely dressed bride
smiles on her way to her photo shoot
Every weekend in Yıldız Park in Beşiktaş, brides come to have their photos taken amidst the greenery of the park. It is so fun to see the variety of head coverings and dresses. This bride's beauty stopped me cold.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Talking About "My People," Iowans, to the Travel Junkies

"American Gothic"
by Iowa artist Grant Wood 
If you live away from where you grew up, have you ever received an invitation to talk about "your people," those that raised you and the culture you grew up in? I can't say I had before. But one of the pleasures of living in Istanbul and having so many expat friends is that I interact with a variety of international people everyday.
My Internations travel group, the Travel Junkies (who I will write more about in future posts), began hosting evenings where individual members shared about the place they came from. The woman who spoke immediately before me spoke about her homeland of Iran. I joked it was just a little intimidating to follow an 8,000-year-old culture to tell about my home state of Iowa, which became a state a mere 166 years ago! 
 Repeat three times please: Iowa = corn!
The first things I wanted to teach my friends was to never mix up Iowa, Idaho, and Ohio ever again. Americans always confuse the three and ask Iowans about potatoes and Idahoans about corn.
The President of Iowa State University
at the National Archives in Washington D.C.
celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act.

The Morrill Act gave every state in America
that wanted to participate
30,000 acres of federal land to use for a university to
uplift the population.

My hometown of Ames, Iowa, was the first
place in the nation to accept this land grant.
The result today: Iowa State University,
one of the world's most successful
agriculture and technical research universities
in the world supported by a mere 3,000,000 Iowans!
I then was deeply proud to share about Iowa's educational legacy. One of the best things I've ever read on just how good Iowa public education was in Tom Wolfe's book "Hooking Up," a series of essays about American culture. In it he wrote an inspiring essay detailing the impact Iowa public education had on Robert Noyce, a founding chairman of Intel, and a man frequently described as "the father of Silicon Valley."
 Besides describing Noyce's educational experiences growing up in Iowa and at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa specifically, Tom Wolfe made the case that the business casual dress popularized the IT industry was just Noyce's Midwestern lack of fashion pretense institutionalized into Silicon Valley culture.
I love that story, as one would never imagine Iowans having an impact on fashion. We are not a fashion forward people. But we are a deeply democratic people. There is no "us and them" in Iowa, when I grew up there, we viewed ourselves as "us."
Iowa has the highest per capita number of high school graduates of any state in the nation (as well it should since it was the first state in the nation to insitutionalize high school), the highest literacy rate of any state in the nation, we have two cities out of the top three with the most number of PhDs per capita (Ames, Iowa and Iowa City, Iowa share that distinction with Boulder, Colorado).
The beautiful law library
at the Iowa State Capitol building -
frequently used as a television backdrop
for Iowa caucus reporting by national news organizations
Indeed, literacy is so darn important in Iowa, that our recent first lady, Christie Vilsack, visited every single public library in the State because she considered public libraries the most important provider of culture in each town. Some of those libraries were probably one room! She still visited them because those libraries brought their citizens the greater outside world.

Iowa's appreciation of reading and literature is so profound it's even been recognized by UNESCO. Iowa City, Iowa was named a "City of Literature" by UNESCO along with Dublin, Reykjavik, Melbourne, and Edinburgh.
After all, the University of Iowa (where I received my M.A. in Library and Information Science) is home to the Iowa Writer's Workshop, the very first creative writing program in the nation. It draws not only nationally-famous writers, but internationally-known writers. For example, Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's Nobel laureate for literature, has spent time at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. UNESCO speculated Iowa City may be the most literary spot in the world for its size.  It has a mere 67,000 people and was recognized with those large world-famous cities!
"Spring in Town"
painted by Iowa artist
Grant Wood, 1941
In addition to our educational values, I thought our next most important deeply-held value was in feeding the world. Iowa is first in the nation in corn production, first in the nation in soybean production, 1st in the nation in hog production (the most searched for recipe on the Internet in America is for pork chops) 1st in the nation in egg production, and 2nd in the nation in beef production. Indeed, 90% of all Iowa's land is used in farming which resulted in Iowa contributing $4.5 billion in exports to help America's balance of trade in 2005.
Notice the precise geometry
of Iowa farming.
It's a sublter beauty than mountains and oceans,
but it is beauty, nonetheless.
My friends were fascinated by the combination of a highly agricultural state combined with a high level of education in the general population. Most Iowans live in cities. It's hard for folks who come from countries where agriculture is all about peasant traditions to imagine a place where high education levels and ag can be combined.
Dr. Borlaug
Iowans care about feeding the world so much there is now a prize coming out of Iowa started by one of our own, Dr. Norman Borlaug, the ag scientist who is credited with saving more human life than anyone else who has ever lived in the history of the world. Coming from a small farm in Cresco, Iowa, born of Norwegian heritage, Dr. Borlag helped farmers globally increase their yields. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
The Iowa-generated World Food Prize is a mere 22 years old, but hopes to be recognized as the "Nobel Prize of Food," honoring those innovators in politics and science who find new ways to feed humanity. The Secretary of State announces the winner every year and the Secretary General of the United Nations comes to the awards ceremony each year. I hope, gentle reader, that you will care as much about who wins this award, as any other. I think it is that important, don't you?
A talk about Iowa wouldn't be complete without an explanation of the whole Iowa presidential primary caucus system. I think Iowa maintains its first in the nation status for selecting the president through a primary caucus for a very important reason. The first place to get a crack at judging future presidents should not only be highly educated but small enough for retail politics. Iowa is both. Candidates have to interact personally with Iowans, instead of selling themselves in paid media campaigns.
There is even a joke about it. A presidential candidate asks an Iowan for his vote in the upcoming caucus and the Iowan says, "I can't vote for you yet. I've only interacted with you three times." When I was a county chair for Bob Dole when he was running for President, it was fun to host Elizabeth Dole in my mom's living room where she preceded to tell us why Bob would make a great President.
Iowa (97% white), literally made Obama a star, when in 2008, chose him above everyone else as the winner of the Democratic caucus. He finished his 2012 campaign in Iowa too, combining sentimentality and swing-state saavy.
I described three Iowa companies I thought would impact the entire world culturally: Pioneer Hybrid for genetically-modified foods, Pinterest, a social media company for sharing visual media, and Dwolla, a brand new financial services company that makes money transfers inexpensive between people and companies.
The Iowa butter cow,
and her current sculptor, Sarah Pratt
Since my friends were travel junkies, I wanted to make sure they knew the four most important tourist things to do in Iowa. First is riding on RAGBRAI, the 10,000-strong annual bike ride across Iowa that occurs every July. The second is driving the Iowa River Road along the Mississippi, what National Geographic Magazine calls as on of the "500 Drives for a lifetime," third is spending a day at the Iowa State Fair with a special look at the sculpted "butter cow," and my last suggestion was renting a houseboat to float down the Mississippi.
You don't have to be in Istanbul, or even an expat, to carry out this idea of rotating travelogues from natives to friends. I've loved attending each one (usually presented with a meal that matches the country) and so far I have learned about Trinidad and Tobago, Lebanon, Sudan, and Iran.
Just gather a bunch of international friends and put on evenings for each other. I felt deeply honored that my friends cared enough about me to learn about "my people." I had great fun and renewed passion for my birthplace putting my presentation together. Yea Iowa! That's where the tall corn grows.

Here are four other Iowa-related posts I wrote you might enjoy:

You're My Al Bell!

Enjoying Hometown Friends in Istanbul

Dvorak Embraced Spillville, Iowa; Spillville, Iowa Embraced Dvorak

UNESCO Names Iowa City, Iowa a "City of Literature"

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Meeting the Kilners: a visit to the home of the U.S. Consul General in Istanbul

 American ladies arriving at the entrance.
Jennie Toner, far right and front
with eight colleagues.
Every year, the Professional American Women of Istanbul are invited to the home of America's Consul General in Istanbul. The title of Consul General refers to America's highest diplomat in an important city that isn't the capital city.

I had no expectations of what it would be like but, I was especially looking forward to this, as I have two friends who have served as America's Consul General around the world. One friend served in Perth, Australia, and another friend served in Mumbai, India. I was never able to visit them while they held those posts so I thought my visit to the Kilner's residence might give me a feeling for what my friends' lives were like when they served. Now one of my friends has become an American ambassador, but he's in a country so off the commercial beaten path and expensive to visit, he's going to retire without me ever having visited him and his family in their country of service.
 Hope Mandel and her friend Christy.
Hope is here in Istanbul
working for the Nielsen Company
as a Client Business Partner.
It's hard to see in this photo,
but this was a lovely view of the church
in the background.
Weekends in Istanbul have been spectacular this fall, that Saturday morning was no different. The U.S. Consul residence is in the Arnavutköy neighborhood. I haven't explored this neighborhood yet, but need to do so soon, as a simple walk through one day told me it was adorable. The streets give an old Ottoman feeling of close wooden houses with overhanging second stories. At the windows of many homes are beautiful flowers. About twelve of us American ladies met that morning and took a taxi from Besiktas to the residence and it was quite an adventure finding the home in Arnavutköy and getting there.
 Me, stopping to take a picture
 in celebration of the peaceful feeling
of the grounds
A view of the back of the house.
A lawn like this
is a very rare thing in Istanbul.
 Enjoying brunch and conversation
on the back porch
A lovely place to sit in the back yard
and enjoy the view of shipping traffic
passing through the Bosphorus.
I find it impossible to tire of watching the ships
go through. They are magnificent.
 U.S. Consul General Scott Kilner
and Vanessa H. Larson,
managing editor of the new global start-up
Culinary Backstreets.
The both speak fluent Turkish, being experienced Turkophiles,
but here they are speaking English.
Enjoying the morning
Me with Adrian Hodges,
writer of the blog "Postcards from Istanbul."
Adrian is a newlywed bursting with joy.
Helene Bumbalo is just beginning her expat adventure.
She is quickly becoming an expert on teaching
"Aviation English."
We had fun and were inspired!
Mrs. Kilner welcomed us to her home and I made a point of thanking her for her service to our country. I think it is important to acknowledge the service supportive spouses give America when they are married to people who serve America professionally, because those spouses do so at considerable sacrifice to their own careers. They don't often get to choose where they will live or how long they will be there. A simple acknowledgement of this gift they give us seems like an important thing to do, don't you agree? I think it's important to say to military spouses and children too.

Everything about the morning made me so proud of my country and American values. I appreciated that the house was grand, like my nation, but our representatives were wonderfully down-to-earth and approachable. I appreciated the two Marines who were present to invite us to their annual Marine Corps ball. I loved the helpful attitude of the consular staff as they worked to answer questions about voting issues and general safety issues. I appreciated how deeply knowledgeable our Consul General is about Turkey and how much time the Kilners have in the country having served in three different posts: Adana, Ankara, and Istanbul.

When I was telling one of my Turkish girlfriends about our morning at the Consul General's house, she said, "I would have to get my hair done for that and get a new dress. It would be impossible to go without maximum effort." I think she was shocked to learn that many Americans felt comfortable going in jeans. It was a Saturday morning, for heaven's sake! I like that we Americans don't always feel the need to dress to impress and could just enjoy each other as authentically as possible.

Sometimes though, Americans can take casual too far. Ninety-five of us R.S.V.P.ed and said we would come and only 55 showed up.

Istanbul is an especially intense post, maybe one of the most intense in the world, due to Turkey's strategic position and regional issues. I believe the Secretary of State has come to Istanbul four times over the past year on business, which doesn't usually happen at consular posts.

After we had enjoyed brunch, Mr. Kilner gave us a 20-minute overview of issues affecting the region. I think there is an etiquette rule that if you go to the White House, you shouldn't repeat everything the President said, otherwise he or she never feels free to talk. So I will extend that same courtesy to Mr. Kilner, as his office has incredibly complex issues in their hands regarding Syria and surrounding international tension. I am sure that "sober" is a word that is completely overused in diplomatic circles, but I felt reassured, as best as an ordinary citizen can feel reassured, that my government is approaching these issues with thoughtful sobriety.

After we left that day, a bunch of us were riding the bus back to central Istanbul, and one of the ladies who had been a foreign service wife told us that before 1970, foreign service wives used to be rated on how much charity work they did, on their entertaining, etc. Imagine! They weren't even paid or held a position, but the U.S. government felt free to rate them.

People like Mrs. Kilner who support their spouse in representing our country are now a disappearing species, as many spouses choose to have their own career.  I'm grateful for both the Kilners and appreciated the opportunity to see how my beloved nation is represented in Istanbul.

Several photos courtesy of Hope Mandel.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ready to try some Turkish TV? Watch one episode of "The Magnificent Century"

The ensemble cast
of Süleyman's Ottoman Court
Hollywood is so dominant in entertainment, it's easy for Americans to think no one else in the world produces quality movies and TV series. In fact, Turkey has created soft power for itself with a stream of TV shows which home viewers from the Balkans to the Arabian Sea enjoy. "More, more, more," they clamor.

My Turkish isn't good enough to watch a series in the original language. Fortunately, one of the most popular Turkish TV series subtitled their first episode so that English-language audiences could decide for themselves if they would like more international selection on their television.  I've watched the first and second episode. You don't need that much language as the story is universal: boy meets girl.

Local historians lift their nose at this show decrying that it has as much historical accuracy as a Phillipa Gregory novel, and that may be true. Do we really know if Roksalana's beau went to heaven or hell when he was killed? The details may be embroidered but the broad outlines of the story are true.
German-Turkish actress
Meryem Uzerli
as Hürrem

Besides the theme of boy meets girl, another added delight of this series is the Ottoman costumes, headgear, architecture, and interiors. The Ottomans really did wear the hats in the series that look like waste paper baskets and Jiffy Pop poppers.

The caftans! The divans! The carpets! It's all so evocative of a lost time when the "Orient mystique" of the harem intruiged all Westerners who came in contact with Turkish culture.

How popular is this series? It's credited with increasing Arab tourism to Istanbul by 50% this year. Here's the Wikipedia background on the incredible story of Süleyman and his beloved Roksolana, whom he nicknamed Hürrem, "the cheerful one:"
The "Magnificent Century" of the Ottomans refers to the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent , and the series dramatizes the intrigues of his harem and court. Most of the incidents and actions occurring are based on fictional stories of the Ottomans specifically Sultan Süleyman and his harem but these actions take place on the fixed time of this reign.
 Is it universal that
all heroes arrive on a white horse?

Actor Halit Ergenç
as Sultan Süleyman
At the age of twenty-six, when his rule began, Sultan Süleyman sought to build an empire in this world more powerful and more extensive than Alexander The Great of Macedonia and to render the Ottomans invincible.

Throughout his 46-year reign, Sultan Süleyman became known as the greatest warrior and ruler of the East and West. The young Süleyman ascended to the throne after receiving the news of his crowning at a hunting party in 1520. Unaware that he would be embarking on a reign that would later be considered the pinnacle of Ottoman rule, he left behind his consort Mahidevran and their son, little prince Mustafa, at his palace in Manisa, and, accompanied by his close friend and companion Pargalı İbrahim, took the road to Topkapı Palace in İstanbul.
While they were on route, an Ottoman ship sailed off from Crimea across the Black Sea, bringing kidnapped Christian female slaves as gifts for the Ottoman palace. On this ship was Alexandra La Rossa, the daughter of a Ukrainian Orthodox minister, who saw her father mother, and fiance being killed while kidnapped. This young girl, who had been kidnapped from her family and sold to the Ottoman palace as a slave, would become Hürrem (Roksolana), the consort who so captivated Sultan Süleyman that he took the nearly unprecedented step of making her his wife. She would bear his sons and rule his empire together with him through bloodshed and intrigue.
As Sultan Süleyman ruled his empire, he allowed his great passion for Hürrem a heavy influence in his court.
The television series focuses on the relationships between the members of the imperial household, especially the romantic entanglements and rivalries. The animosity between Hürrem and Mahidevran, and Hürrem's rise as Süleyman's favorite while pregnant with his son, her fall from favor after her son's birth and her eventual return to grace, provide the main subject matter of the series. Significant subplots include the affection between the Grand Vizier and one of the ladies of the royal household and the tension between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire. 
For your enjoyment: episode one of "The Magnificent Century" with English subtitles. After you watch it, tell me if your TV choices would be enhanced by more shows from other countries, such as the Turkish tale contained in "The Magnificent Century." After all, there are many times in our lives when we can't travel. Why not make 'travel' come to us?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Scenes from Farmer's Markets in the Lubéron

For a week straight, my college friend Robin and I did nothing but shop and eat and talk to her husband Jim.  Jim, as a wine maker and a long-time restauranteur, was always the cooking showman in the family.  Now as he recovered from his brain surgery, Robin was the family chef, and Jim reveled in her skills.

Robin and I loved to go to the Farmer's Markets in the Lubéron and see what was on offer.  While the Loumartin market was possibly the most showy, the one in Cadenet was charming, accessible, and not too crowded. The people-watching was just as wonderful.
Beautifully-displayed zucchinis
  Equally Pretty Melons
A lovely French shopper
shows off
the sculptural quality
of the lettuce
This handsome couple
spends two months in Provence
each year and 10 months in Spain.
They showed me their French car.
It's called a 2CV.
They told me the design of the car
resulted when the French Government 
asked Citroën for a vehicle that could carry four people,
50 pounds of potatoes,
and a dozen eggs,
without breaking the eggs.
That is such a French thought, n'est pas?
It is an iconic vehicle
and much loved
in France.
Not every shopper
was full-grown.
The Cadenet Farmer's Market was set up on the Municipal Boules Court (the French game of lawn bowling). 
In nearby Cuceron, I had the chance to see another municipal place that French people had created for themselves: the breathtaking grove of plantain trees in Cucuron surrounding a city pond. I found it calming.
 There were restorative sidewalk spots to
enjoy the view of the Plantain grove
and the water.
A French woman sustaining their
worldwide reputation for chic.
When you see a pork leg
with the hoof still on it,
you're very aware it came
from a real live animal, aren't you?
Ack! I've written before
how American food writers say
Americans have the reality
that they're eating actual animals
kept far from them
by styrofoam and plastic film.
I know this ham is a delicacy.
I love this ham!
I have no desire to be vegetarian!
Facing this pork leg being sliced
made me so uncomfortable.
 It's so *real* served this way.
I love to eat rabbit,
at least fresh rabbit from
styrofoam and plastic film.
But...when it looked like
it had a pet name of Bunny
only yesterday?
Culture shock!
 The French version of a
lemonade stand.
This little boy was selling
packaged herbs.
Does your mail carrier look like this
back home?
Mine neither.
The Cucuron village mail carrier.
Everything is more glamorous in France,
even the mail.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grateful to Miss Out on America's Media Obsessions

 Washington working on the Debt Deal
Recently, friends were visiting Istanbul from Palo Alto, California and I asked them, "what's everyone talking about in Palo Alto?" Being political junkies, like me, they cited the inability of Washington to come to a debt deal. Now this was something I have an opinion on!

Even though I'm overseas, I'm still an American citizen and care passionately about the health of my nation. It's easy to follow the twists and turns of the debate because all of that journalism is easily accessible to expats.

 Casey Anthony

Not all of America's journalism is so accessible to expats.  For that, I'm grateful.  It causes the occasional occurrence, where all of a sudden, my friends back home are discussing something and I have no idea what they're talking about.  Their Facebook feeds light up with outrage at a story, and I"m left with "huh, what?" Such was the case with the Casey Anthony story and a lady named Nancy Grace. Apparently, using a lot of understatement, America does not like either of them.
 Nancy Grace

Casey Anthony is a young mother whose child died. She waited a month to report it. She was prosecuted for murder and was not convicted because the jury was not convinced that a murder happened, thinking it could just as likely have been a bad accident that the family did not have the courage to report. Nancy Grace is the America reporter whose anger at this young mother has captured the notice of numerous chroniclers as completely over-the-top.

Reading enough about the story to get the gist, I'm glad I missed it.  Following it closely would not been a good use of my time and given how angry the people are who DID follow it closely, I can't say it would have been good for my soul.  I don't love to be outraged, although I recognize there are plenty of people who do, and this Nancy Grace lady seems to play to that. And what could I have done to improve the situation? Nothing.

 Tony Blair
Facebook makes it very easy to see the media's influence on folks because all of sudden, numerous people will all break out discussing the same issues, often with the same take.

In conversation, I notice this most often with British people who all use the same word to describe Tony Blair.  To a person, Brits call him George Bush's "poodle." Now if they were all thinking that idea on their own, without help from the media, wouldn't there be some variety in the language used?  'Poodle' is not the most common pejorative.

This week's news story about the extent of privacy invasion in Britain all in an effort to bring readers the "dirt" on celebrities has caused me to reflect.  How, have I, as a reader contributed to this sad practice? Do I need to read about celebrities? Do I want to know stuff that's not my business?

 These dresses! I love them!

I don't care about Hollywood celebrities' private lives, but I do enjoy seeing their dresses. That doesn't involve invading their privacy. Whew!

On reflection, however, there is a particular story I'm ashamed of reading.

I followed the ins and outs of the DSK scandal in New York City. I had never heard of DSK before he made the news for being arrested and have nothing against him personally. Being a feminist, my heart did go out to that poor immigrant single mother.

When the case collapsed, I was sad for her, because I just couldn't believe nothing had happened. I'm sure others following the story believed the same thing which made us want to know how the prosecutors and police said one thing and then changed their mind about going forward with the case.

The New York Times (ironically, not a Murdoch publication) published a story with her confidential hospital report and I read that story. It had been provided to the prosecutor's office for evidence. I am 100% sure the reason they did this is because that's what their readers wanted to know.  The journalists follow the market. I am part of that market. In light of the stories about large corporations using people's misery to sell newspapers, I am now not proud to have done this. I take responsibility. May that lady find peace and be left alone in dignity. I resolve to do better as a reader.

One of my very favorite things about CNN International is that it does not focus on celebrity news.  I've even heard their anchors make fun of CNN domestic for the network's need to run celebrity news (Nancy Grace's ratings were through the roof) because that is what America wants and is voting for with its attention.

I couldn't help but contrast CNN's deeply admirable "Freedom Project" on human trafficking with all of the current headlines about hacking footballer's phone calls. I bet that took real executive courage to put on that series of news reports because it doesn't appeal to the lowest common denominator and asks a lot of us citizens to just view, taking in the very real and gritty story of powerless people.

Can we do better as readers and viewers? Do you have a story you've followed that in hindsight either wasn't appropriately sourced or the best use of your time? Can we help empower executives to focus on stories that really do make a difference like the "Freedom Project" rather than on celebrity news?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What Did You Think of the Royal Wedding?

 The Royal Kiss

We're having a big discussion over at The Displaced Nation. Come in and contribute to the conversation. Jane Green, chick lit author and ABC News Royals Correspondent is celebrating the traditional fairy tale. I'm asking the question that formed in my mind while visiting the Swedish Royal Palace gift shop: how could women get all the story, fashion, glamour, and romance of the royal wedding without the existence of monarchy?  There has to be a way. Contribute your thoughts!

Photo and links were added at a later date due to Turkey's ongoing censorship of bloggers.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bulgarian Beauties

 My beautiful
young couchsurfing hostess

Somewhere between Prague and Sophia, the look of the people changed.  I don't know where that line was because we probably crossed it in the dark in the middle of the night.  The Bulgarians have a slavic alphabet, but the people no longer look Slavic. While there are exceptions, it's a beauty with a darker coloring.  Here are some of the beauties I saw in Sophia.

Two young women at the movies

A young woman
at the Central Bus Station

My server for dinner one night,

A beautiful Bulgarian shopkeeper.
If you've ever worked in retail,
did you do it in heels like these?
Not me! I admired her polish.
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