Sarai Sierra in Turkey

Traveling tip: don’t let female family members go alone to certain countries. Topping the list of countries that are a no-no include most of the middle-eastern ones. And Turkey too, like Sarai Sierra’s family learned. Hopefully, they get a happy result from their trip:

Sarai Sierra in Turkey
Sarai Sierra in Turkey

Relatives of a missing New York City woman who disappeared during a vacation to Turkey, her first trip outside the U.S., are heading to Istanbul to look for her, her brother said Sunday.

Sarai Sierra’s family was last in touch with her on Monday, the day she was supposed to start her journey home. The 33-year-old mother of two had been in Turkey on her own since Jan. 7.

Her brother David Jimenez told The Associated Press that he and Sierra’s husband, Steven, were planning to leave for Turkey on Sunday night. He said he had no return date planned.

“I don’t want to come home without my sister,” he said.

Sierra planned to head to the Galata Bridge, a well-known tourist destination that spans the Golden Horn waterway, to take some photographs, said her mother, Betzaida Jimenez. Her daughter then supposed to begin traveling home and was scheduled to arrive in New York City on Tuesday afternoon.

I hope she is found. In a vaguely similar story of an American abroad, Saeed Abedini was sentenced to eight years at Evin Prison. God bless them both. . .

Legos & the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria

Muslim folks haling from the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria are pissed because Jabba’s Lego Palace resembles the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul:

The Jabba's Palace Lego set has been criticised by the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria group
The Jabba’s Palace Lego po’d the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria group

Lego has been accused of racism by the Turkish community over a Star Wars toy allegedly depicting  a mosque.

The critics claim that the Jabba’s Palace model, part of Lego’s Star Wars range, offends Muslims as it resembles the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul – one of the world’s most renowned mosques.

Members of the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria group also accused the toy manufacturer of depicting Asians as having ‘deceitful and criminal personalities’.

I wonder what this Muslim group thinks of the DARTZ Motorz Company’s Black Snake.

Istanbul and Chicago, Sister Cities?

Imre Azem’s directed a documentary about Turkey called “Ekumenopolis: City Without Limits.” And the flick popped the image of a romantic Istanbul for some folks:

Director Imre Azem said audiences at foreign film festivals were surprised at what they saw on the screen.

“It shatters their image of Istanbul. They have this nostalgic kind of image of Istanbul, with its mosques and all this tourist stuff,” Azem said. “For Turkish people, it’s kind of saying things that they already know because they live in this city and they know its problems.”

Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. The backstreets of Beyoglu, the worn facades and sharp-angled shadows recall the city that Nobel-prize winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk described in his memoir.

Azem, 36, grew up in Istanbul and went to the United States to study, but returned often to find a frenzy of change.

“One time I come here, there’s a park. And then the next time, six months later, the park has become a building,” Azem said. “I really just started questioning where this is heading.”

He said Istanbul was so vast that he had met some poor residents who had never seen the Bosporus Strait even though they had lived in the city for years. A common Turkish term is “gecekondu,” or “built overnight,” a reference to the shoddy apartment buildings that authorities in Istanbul condoned over decades, but now talk about replacing.

Hmmm, you know what? Istanbul sounds a lot like Chicago. Except in South Side Chicago they don’t call it “gecekondu,” or “built overnight.” But “gone-kondu” or “gone overnight.”