“Why we decided to stay and live in Cihangir and Cukurcuma?
Once you move to Istanbul due to work or any other reasons and plan to stay here for a certain time of being, you have to decide where you want to live. Istanbul is large, however, most of the ex-pats stay mostly around Taksim, or Nisantası, Maslak, Maçka, Galata… Each neighborhood has its advantages and disadvantages, each has its own spirit and communities of locals. Based on recommendations of my colleagues I settled in Cukurcuma, south from Taksim, cities hot pot. I am not here with family, so look rather for nice social life than quite a neighborhood, but not an extremely touristic place. And I met ladies from Istanbul Stay and Services, and the story started.
First, we met on that charming quarter, that reminded me so much Europe, but with some slightly different spirit of naturalness instead of European perfection. The range of houses I saw was broad, from modern, oriental up to highly design old houses. It took me to decide where I want to live less than a day. Then started my adventure of Cihangir and Cukurcuma. Neighborhood with a number of bars, restaurants, antiques, small shops, vinyl shops, vets, where you find your butcher, baker, veggie shop, but also massage, hairdresser, yoga or box classes. All you need for your real life in town. You even do not have to leave the neighborhood and you can manage you a super good and comfortable life. But, at the same time, it is walking distance to the old city, to Bosporus, some parks, even if you like walking you can reach stylish Bosporus Bebek. You meet here the cosmopolitan society either of liberal Turks up to foreigners that decided to move here. As one of our German friends said “I found here what I know from my childhood in a small city in the ’70s in Germany and what I missed so much later in Berlin. I became a part of the community. And that convinced me to move here. I moved to Cihangir, not Istanbul …”
There are things that are absolutely normal for Turks, but for many of us, ex-pats, unique. You just
experience them in your everyday life, especially in Cihangir and Cukurcuma. And one of the most remarkable is the mutual relationship between Turks and street animals. Cats are the most beloved creatures for these people. They ensure them the comfort of well living in their neighborhood, feed them with high-quality food, building them houses, even whole blocks of their apartments. Once I walked the street with my best Turkish friend when she noticed something is not good with the jaw of a street cat (don´t ask me how she could notice, when walking and talking to me .. that must be some Turkish sense). She took the cat and went to the vet. No matter what was her plan. And then it is absolutely natural, you see people sitting in bars, having a cat on their laps, petting it and enjoying their company. Once I asked my neighbor, design shoemaker, why are that positive relation of Turks toward cats? She surprisingly looks at me and gave me the most spontaneous answer: “And why not?”. Yes, and then we have to ask ourselves, why we do not like street animals? Why we behave to them with antipathy and consider then something that does not belong to our streets. After your stay in Cihangir, you will perceive this very differently.
But not that cats are somehow privileged. You see dogs sleeping deeply and snoring in the middle of the sidewalk to be by-passed by crowds of people. They feel safe because people are friends who feed them and take care and not throwing them from human zones.
But mine the most impressive story came in spring. I got ants in my house. So, naturally, I went to the store to buy some spray. It was upheaval in store! Five people came to explain to me that they have also ants, they will leave the house when it gets warmer, there is no reason to kill them, why I wanna do that … Honestly, I felt like an animal killer.
So, choosing the neighborhood for your longer stay is very complex. But being on a nice, good looking place, with all that warm and all you might miss at home, experience what we do not have experience any more at home, that all can make your stay so valuable period of your lifetime.”