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Being at ANAMED


ANAMED Fellow Elizabeth Murphy shares her impressions on living and working in Istanbul, and being at ANAMED…

Alongside one of the busiest streets of Istanbul, the white facade of the Merkez Han filters in the sounds and smells of the city. It’s hard to separate ANAMED from Istiklal; the raucousness of the pedestrian way below, with its shops and cafes, never feels far away from the research and study spaces of the institute.  The musicians that pepper the curbs of the street play a soundtrack to the study rooms and library.  Music of Peruvian flutes, clarinetists, and occasionally percussion and singing groups migrate up and down the street, while the smells of the kestane (chestnut) roasting over hot coals lingers up into and through the front windows of the building.  Occasional street protests and demonstrations interrupt the music and clamor of the street with coordinated chants.  Women’s Day protests, anti-terrorism demonstrations, and Turkish Republic Day movements have all moved through this narrow lane, while curious research fellows peak out from windows above.  At night, the singing and strings of Black Sea music from the café across the street competes with the sounds of Istiklalian musicians, yielding a confusing dissonance of rhythms.  Yet, the crowds and din that so define the public face of ANAMED could not be more starkly contrasted than with the sounds and views of its back terrace.  Here, the surrounding skyline envelops this outdoor retreat.  Surrounded on three sides by layers of buildings, the terrace looks out to the Bosphorus, seagulls glide along fresh sea breezes, and tankers move along the waterway occasionally bellowing out their horns.  The experience of living and working in Istanbul is unique, and, in many respects, being at ANAMED places you inextricably among the many sides of this city.  I’ve been very fortunate to call this place home for the last months, and I may just dedicate my book to the Peruvian flute band!