It's not like anyone writes Carpetblog anymore, or reads it, but ten years of reports from Crapistan seem worthy of a passing mention, right? Carpetblog was born this week in Baku, in 2004.
The bigger news is that for the third time this decade, and eight years to the day since my arrival in Istanbul, Carpetblogger is decamping. I've been blabbing about leaving Istanbul for more than a year, so it's not as sudden or as secret as the word suggests. But, with glacial speed and inevitability, it's happening.
I considered the obligatory expat gesture of a "why I'm leaving" post but I find those self-indulgent (something careful readers know is studiously avoided on this blog). Because, who besides me, cares?
Istanbul, and Turkey, are headed in a different direction than they were when I rocked up. That's fine. It seems to be what many Turks want. It's not what I want, so I'm exercising my ability to check out. Turkey's chauvinistic political and consumer culture, once dominated by an arrogant secular elite and now by a pious middle class, interests me much less than it used to. I'm sick of water and power cuts and having to use a VPN. I like all laws to be enforced, not just the ones that restrict the media or peoples' right to advocate for their interests. I work in places like that. I don't want to live in one.
If you like how boring Carpetblog has become as it's moved west, you're going to love the next move. After this long navigating the choppy waters of countries in economic, social and political transition, I'll be based in a country that I'm convinced, despite its best interests, will never, ever change: France. It's possibly the least dynamic country in the world. There aren't even as many Russians on the Côte d'Azure as there used to be, something that both saddens and thrills me.
I'm still finding it hard, when people ask, to answer "I live in France." It sounds like I gave up. In my head, I live in Istanbul. When I think of "home," my eyes see the Bosphorus view from my balcony. My friends are the complicated people, located mostly between Cihangir and Galata, who've accommodated my faults and let me into their lives despite them. I've lived in Istanbul longer than anywhere else in my adult life. Accordingly, it's hard to synthesize years that, often simultaneously, were among the worst and best of my life; full of catastrophic, systemic failures and marginal but satisfying victories.
Ironically, the Yeni Türkiye might provide more fertile ground for Carpetblog than the Eski one, but I don't care to stick around to see what happens next anymore. Given the environment in which Carpetblog was born and thrived like a meth addict in rural America, I already have a pretty good idea. Thanks, but I'll pass.