Back to square one on İstiklal Street

Back to square one on İstiklal Street

A photo that has gone viral on social media nowadays is one that is comparing the current state of Istanbul’s İstiklal Street and how it used to look 10 years ago. A decade ago, the street was paved with cobble stones; there were trees on both sides of the street, shops were full, the tram was functioning; it was crowded and fun. Its situation today is dreadful. 

For years, the issue of what the ground should be paved with has not been solved; the street has been done and redone numerous times; stones were broken, and in the end, the street was asphalted from one end to the other. All of the trees were moved. It is an awful street with no fun. Most of the stores have been closed. There is no trace of glitter, history, tree or liveliness.  

I went to a high school overseeing the İstiklal Street. I remember when it was open to traffic. Later in my university years, I followed how the cafes and entertainment venues boosted the area. Then they expanded to Asmalımescit and became an incredible attraction and entertainment center. 

Inevitably, the street is again going under construction. There will be infrastructure works, the tram rail will be rebuilt, and granite stones will be paved on the street. In fact, it is somehow going back to its original in terms of looks. This is of course good news. However, the bad news is: there are no trees, contrary to the original. 
While we mention that there is not even one tree on İstiklal, there is of course the horrible concrete look of Taksim Square, but my heart is too weak to delve into that. I swear I will bring and plant a couple of seedlings over there one day. 

Shall we collect money for İTÜ? 

Carrying on with our urban planning theme, I wonder if you remember that on February 2016 at the Istanbul Technical University’s (İTÜ) Maçka campus, heavy machinery entered its lawn to build a café. Students started to guard the place and did not allow the construction to go on. 

That green area is now standing like a dumping ground. The work of heavy machinery, toppled surrounding, trees with their roots outside and debris are seen… 

Dear İTÜ administration, how much would it cost to clean this place and replace the soil? Shall we collect some money as neighbors? Do you need money? When will that lawn go back to the days when students and teachers ate simit, drank tea and read books? Or is it your way of protesting against the students keeping the debris there? 

Brigitte, you are lovely, but… 

France’s new first lady, Brigitte Trogneux, 24 years older than her husband Emmanuel Macron, has become a glimpse of hope for all middle-aged and old women of the world. 

She looks so fit, nice and energetic for her age, that with some exaggeration many 35 and over women argue that she looks the same age as her husband and is charming. 

This is my personal view; it may be right or wrong. I do not understand an age difference of 24 years, no matter what gender; I don’t judge it, I just don’t understand. I find Brigitte and Emmanuel more gracious than Donald Trump and Melania Trump, for instance; but at the end of the day, it is 24 years. There is something called math, also biology… 

I am not politically correct; I dare all the critics. 

Of course there is also the fact that Macron was 17 and Trogneux was 41 when they met. Let’s not go into that…