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  • Writer's pictureNirupama Esvaramurthi


Too comfortable to leave my bed the next morning but eager to explore the Turkish fashion and luxury scene on our last day in Istanbul, we stepped out for brunch and coffee. On our way to Federal Coffee Company, as I was deeply engrossed in planning our day and trying to fit in a thousand places with barely enough time, I suddenly found myself on all fours. In a pool of slush. I looked up to find some fine gentlemen rushing over to help; turns out, I had tripped over a step and my stockings were ripped. Talk about perfect timing for a wardrobe malfunction. Thanking the kind people that came over to help while trying - in a vain attempt, of course - to hide my face that had turned twenty shades of red from embarrassment, I resorted to coffee for consolation. The rich, unfiltered bitterness of Turkish coffee was what I needed.

(Source: here)

Our shopping expedition began at the crowded Istiklal Caddesi, whose Ottoman-era buildings and vintage red and white tram had Krithika and me channeling our inner Blair and Serena and clicking pictures on the street for about 30 minutes. Hundred points for our time management skills! Tending to my need of the hour, I picked up stockings from Calzedonia and visited almost all the mainstream international fast fashion brands. The massive Koton store stood out particularly, leaving us with an extensive winter wear collection and a lot less baggage space. Grand Bazaar was next.

Lost in the never ending passages of the Grand Bazaar, we wandered without direction through the noisy crowds, stopping every now and then to check out stores of interest. The loud jewellery hawkers and their counterfeit jewellery got me worried about the authenticity of the zultanite earrings that I had purchased from the Hagia Sophia museum the previous day. After going in circles and landing in the exact same spot we started - thousand points for our sense of direction - it was impossible to find Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi, a place famous for its Turkish coffee. With my knees giving way from the walking, we moved on to the next place.

Though our time constraint left us with minimum time for most places on my list - a list that took me only about a month to prepare, the following places were definitely worth a visit. Beymen - a massive department store housing various luxury brands at the Zorlu Centre. Visiting Zorlu right after Grand Bazaar sure does provide you with a contrasting experience. Also, Turkish brands such as Fey, which had a beautifully curated collection, Vakko, Dilek Hannif at Nisantasi and Arzu Kaprol are a few other stores definitely worth dropping in.

Vakko Store at Zorlu Centre.

(Source: here )

As the day ended we boarded our flight to Cappadocia with our hearts and luggage so full. As we reflected on the two days in Istanbul, etched in our brains were its historic buildings and its people. I say people because the Turks we met were the kindest and most well-mannered people that seeing the news about the highest femicide rate in Turkey and the B&W photo challenge on social media to raise awareness for the same left me quite stunned. It was contrary to my experiences in Turkey. It also made me grateful that we got to meet the most polite and helpful Turks who accidentally became a part of our memories - memories that Krithika and I made while living our high school dream of travelling.


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