We’re staying at an airbnb in a neighborhood called London Fields in Hackney, in East London. The first morning when we arrived I went up the street to get some basic groceries, and I noticed a few somethings. A convenience store with bright color pictures of vegetables and liquor bottles on the window. A barber “salon” with photos of celebrities on the windows, and everyone inside was watching tv, even the guy getting his hair cut. A kebab shop with a refrigerated case of meat on skewers. A place called “Erciyes Grocery.” Two fruit stores, right across from each other, called “Umut Supermarket” and “Sultan Fruit and Veg”. A cafe where two older ladies sat in a display zone right by the front window, rolling out pieces of flat dough onto a gri — oh who am I kidding it was gozleme. By random selection we touched down in London’s little Istanbul. There’s even an Old Tbilisi Shop and a Little Georgia Cafe with an ink sketch of David the Builder over the river Mtkvari. It was a thouroughly warm welcome.The big differences between this neighborhood and anywhere in Istanbul are:
- Presence of decent Vietnamese grocery stores and restaurants
- The Turkish moms speak English to their kids (????????)
- SIGNIFICANTLY LESS SHOUTING. I weirdly only hear traffic sounds from down below on the main street.
The next day I went out and said in Turkish to literally the first person I saw out the door, “So what’s the deal? Is everyone Turkish here or what?” And he said, “Oh yeah, all Turks. You want a coffee?” and we had a brief talk about why Turkey was committing troops to fight in Syria. I spent some time wandering around and walked into a supermarket, told the guy “kolay gelsin,” and we talked about the economic crisis. It’s like I never left.