Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Istanbul Finale: "The Great Gatsby"

Our final evening in Istanbul capped a bountiful excursion, for sure. After I spent a second day in bed with total body-breakdown, Ayhan and I were invited to accompany Turkey's most popular singer Sertab (see posts below, for background blah blah) and her partner Demir, to a private birthday party for world-acclaimed pianist Fazil Say.

After Sertab participated in the "European Capital of Culture" festivities Sunday night (see below post), we took a cab to meet with them at Beymen Café in the Nisantasi nabe, had a drink and catch-up, before their driver took us to the fabulous age-old Zihni Bar, which used to be the home of an architect and for more than 50 years (see left), has been considered one of Istanbul’s premier upscale destinations.This joint was like stepping inside F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," with women adorned in elbow-length gloves, dressed in their best black, and men outfitted in their finest nighttime garb. While smoking indoors is illegal in Turkey, there was an old-school civility, as people lit their cigarettes—again, like a different era—as if above the (often silly) laws that pervade modern world culture.Our host played grand piano, and was accompanied throughout the night by his talented guests: a violinist here, a belly dancer there...And yes, Sertab sang. She offered one of her hits "Lal," which the pair performed together a few years ago at New York's Carnegie Hall.Ayhan tells me the room was filled with Turkish celebs: singers, actors, comedians, who of course were faceless to me (Ayhan finally was forgiven for not knowing Mary Tyler Moore, when I met her years ago and had a near breakdown, to his shrug).

Talk about a grand finale... A night to remember amid a week I shall never forget.