While I was finishing my PhD in Paris, I told my friends that after that crazy city I would go to a quiet, smaller place. And quit smoking. Then I got accepted to ANAMED and moved to Istiklal, as life kept giggling behind my back. It wasn’t its last giggle for sure. I started the pandemic in a hospital bed, since my appendix was also yearning for a quieter place of residence than my abdomen. I discovered the meaning of care, primarily through Catie and Gülşah’s hands. Then restaurants and bars near ANAMED closed, and we could suddenly sleep at night. I would climb the spiral stairs around midnight to get some air and the sensation of open space, but my body did not yearn nicotine anymore. It’s been two months.
Objectively, we have been taken care of splendidly by ANAMED. Subjectively, at the start, we felt forgotten, neglected, exposed, and left without insight or direction about how to organize life under new conditions. Alex left before “it all turn[ed] into the Lord of the Flies.” It didn’t. Throughout, I considered the seven of us to be a household. What else could you call a place where people do puzzles together, help you get groceries, bring you a warm meal at 11 pm, and take care of you when you’re sick? I embraced my slowness and introverted character. I spent long hours in the kitchen (“Kitchen manya!”, cried Nergis Hoca). I was frustrated by online shopping. I even did some work. I did yoga on the terrace, where we also planted potatoes and onions. I kept the lookout for Dustin’s submarines but could only spot the huge oil platform floating down the Bosphorus. We invented new cocktails and tasted strawberries grown in our rooms. We made masks and celebrated all the holidays together.
Also, there were definitely no foster kittens on the terrace. And yes, in case you’re wondering, they’re happy and healthy.
And we have certainly never encroached on the top floor of the Merkez Han. But when we did, we tried to keep to high culinary standards.
What happens in ANAMED stays in your heart.
—Milan Vukašinović, GABAM-ANAMED Joint Post-Doctoral Fellow, 18 May 2020