On the forty-second page of “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar” author Paul Theroux wrote (emphasis added):
"To some degree, we all worry about what foreigners and strangers think of us," Pamuk says. "My interest in how my city looks to western eyes is—as for most Istanbullus—very troubled; like all other Istanbul writers with one eye on the West, I sometimes suffer in confusion."
"To see Istanbul through the eyes of a foreigner always gives me pleasure," Pamuk goes on. Flaubert, Gide, Nerval, Knut Hamsun, and Hans Christian Andersen all visited Istanbul and recorded their impressions, and in most instances what they saw was a fading Orientalism that ceasted to exist as soon as it was described—the harem, the grotesque and the pictueresque, dervishes, hubble-bubble pipes, the slave market, Ottoman clothing, floppy sleeves, Arabic calligraphy, and, he says, the hamals, the porters, though such men can still be seen, heavily burdened with huge loads on wooden pack frames, trudging up and down the cobbled streets of the old city. Whenever I began to generalize about Istanbul's modernism, I encountered an exotic vignette—a shroud, a fez, a minaret, a veil, a donkey, or something grilling fish over coals by the roadside.
But Pamuk's book, like all passionate books, is a bewitchment. Once you've read his Istanbul, you have been persuaded to see the city with his eyes—a gloomy, smoky warren of narrow lanes and conflicted families, serene, half fictional, like a city in a dream.
I find most cities nasty, but I can see that Istanbul is habitable, a city with the soul of a village. Unless there is a bomb in the bazaar, or a Kurd-related outrage, there is never news of Istanbul in the Western press. To say it is beautiful is so obvious as to be frivolous, yet the sight of its mosques and churches can be almost heart-stopping. I am imprevious to its charm, even the word "charm," but I admire Istanbul for its look of everlastingness, as though it has always existed (it has been a noble city since its first incarnation as Byzantium 1,700 years ago, and looks it in part). Most of all I like the city for its completeness and its self-sufficiency: it is a finished work, distinctly itself. Of course, you can buy gold and carpets in the Grand Bazaar, or jewelry and leather goods in the Egyptian bazaar, but everything else is available throughout the city too, because Turkey makes everything—stationery, cheap clothes, computers, knives, cigarettes, refrigerators, furniture. Heavy industry flourishes. The newspaper business is lively and competitive, book publishing is energetic, Turkish literacy is high, and book sales are brisk.
Give the fact that Turkey shares borders with Iraq, Iran, Syria, Arme[nia]