March 2010

The internet is likely chockfull of photos of the classic Istanbul-i sights – the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Galata Tower, the Golden Horn and Bosphorus which I too filled my camera with. So I thought I’d show visitors to this site some images that I caught of things that tickled my fancy or funny-bone in different places, which made this trip unique for me. Local men over tea in a rooftop cafe at the foot of the Galata Tower; On the Galata Bridge amid the rows of local fishermen, a woman  in fire-engine-red ‘hooker’ boots (who was she really?… the hooker hooking for lunch?); a pigeon making it’s home in the eaves of the Hagia Sophia in the very section where flash photography was strictly forbidden due to restoration; and those odd gourd-headed critters adorning a storefront in a the fishing village at the tip of the Bosphorus before it merged with the Black Sea. Do click on the picture to your right and browse the sights through mine or rather mine camera’s gaze.


Either way, it’s where I am. One of the great things about Cairo is that it’s so easy to get away. So before my deluge of welcome and wonderful guests descends on me tomorrow, I decided to make a short lick-my-wounds trip out of the country and Istanbul came up as a possibility. And with my friend Kathi joining me we booked our tix late Wednesday night and Friday morning 4 am we were on the plane!!!

It’s been mostly a relaxing time — rainy and colder that I expected but with enough warm and clear days to get in the must-do’s (e.g. Bosphorus cruise) under the sun. My hotel is located gorgeously in the Sultanamet district – I greet every morning with a cup of tea  gazing at the gracious dome and turrets of the Hagia Sophia. Which is where I’m typing this from by the way. Here’s my view clouds and all …

By day

and by night…

It’s a place I’ll need to return to. Much more of a livers city than a tourist one I think though there are tourist wonders aplenty. My personal favorite the Basilica Cistern – with its ghostly auras and in the far corner, the Medusa head columns glaring balefully from different angles.(Didn’t get pictures but the atmosphere was fabulous). The Blue Mosque — not any bluer than others I’ve been to – the exterior is  lovely the interior, I think a bit much for me, but impressive nevertheless. And while I can believe the stories about Istanbul being a foodie town, this trip was not one that thrilled my taste buds as much as I expected. Except for the fish. And now I’m off to get my sandwich from the pier, before it’s too late. and also buy a few spices. The museums will have to wait.. that’s what next times are for.

So shortly after my last post I received a message from the dream position that I unfortunately did not make it to the next round of interviews. Or in their words, it was “unlikely though not impossible,” that I was going to be invited for a campus visit. And then yesterday (there’s always something to add salt to injuries) another letter, possibly the nicest reject letter I’ve ever received, from a job that I had actually not held out hopes for anyway – at the University of Minnesota. Their letter said that they had received so many impressive prospects that they had actually attempted to create a second job, but alas, budgets didn’t allow (that last I believe). Long and short – no job. Any wonder I’m feeling rejected and dejected?

The only reason (besides the unable-to-afford-to-do-so) I’m not yet quartered is that well amid all these disappointments are consolation prizes. Just received word that my talk of a year ago is now officially part of a published preprint series from the prestigious Max-Planck. Check it out and download the same from here if interested. The paper is the same one that I revised for JHB and that has already appeared in the online version last summer. Like I said, it’s only a small consolation prize, but a salve to my bruised ego nevertheless.

It’s how I’m feeling these days.

For those of you who haven’t been keeping track of time, this is my sixth and hence, last semester in Egypt. Yep that’s right – I arrived here in August 2007 on a 3-year contract which is coming to its end. And am I ever in a state of panic since I still have virtually no clue as to where I’ll be come September! So far out of the gazillion applications I’ve had tons of outright rejects, one campus visit (in Pune, about which I’m not precisely clear what’s happening) and one first round interview – I won’t say where but if I get it .. OH MY GOD!!!.. it would be fantastic – and few pending ones a new round of applications that I’ve begun in desperation.

Actually  it was completing one of those applications (I’ve spent the better part of today on it but got it off just in the nick of time (hopefully – and grammar police note that I mean I am hopeful) that promoted this post. This application was not a letter – which is somewhat simpler if annoying – but required a 2000 word project proposal as well a sample syllabus for a course that I could potentially teach based on my research. A lot of work which actually turned out to be very interesting, which fact bodes well in a way, because it means I will actually enjoy working on the project should I ever get going. Which vindicates my choice of the unattractive-to-potential-employers history of science as the area in which to pursue a Ph.D.

But I can’t enjoy myself on an empty stomach — as all off my fellow foodie friends will attest to heartily – and there are days here I’m waking in a panic wondering what the hell I’m going to do if I don’t land a job for next year. Any job, I’d say except the prospect of another stint in an Oh Where-like place is almost more daunting than having no job. So friends and well wishers send your good feelings my way… and even though I’m not a believer in The Secret, I will bless you all and treat you all to a good meal when that dream job is mine.

More venting later. Have to go shower now