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The inner thoughts of my last taxi driver in Istanbul. Probably.

I’m working through lunch again today. It’s the only way I can make ends meet these days. On the road by 7 a.m., starting with a couple of airport runs. Fill out the morning with a few neighborhood rides, and maybe some mall runs at noon. Eat a few snacks while driving and make my last trip of the day toward home. I can quit by 8 p.m., early enough to have dinner with my family.

Having a family in this world feels like a deal with the devil…


It has been a year since I moved to Istanbul, Turkey. This country is home to some of the most mysterious, well-built historical sites in the world.

Mystery and structural integrity are exactly what I want in a home. A well-built structure with decent insulation and neighbors I know nothing about. Talking to neighbors and forging a sense of community are all fine and good. But in an apartment building, after the front door closes, information sharing should cease.

At first glance, Istanbul is a modern city indistinguishable from other European cities. People from all over come here for a…


The story of my post-America glow up.

“You’re kind of cute for a black guy.” That qualification of attractiveness among black people is common where I’m from. How many times does a young black person need to hear that before it’s confirmed as fact in their mind?

For me, the magic number was two. I’ve heard sentiments like that more than twice in my life, but I learn fast. From a young age, I believed that I was inherently less attractive than fair-skinned people.

In my family, there is a strong tradition of humbling each other. You could be dressed…


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My wife and I enjoy discovering new things. The opportunities to do so are boundless in Istanbul. The Turkish culture warm and inviting, and the city is home to several other nationalities and subcultures.

Some of the best food I’ve enjoyed in Istanbul has been non-Turkish. A favorite of mine is Uygur food. It’s a bit salty and heavy on the msg, but delicious — probably for those reasons. Another dish I can’t get enough of is Falafel. When I get a chance, I go to an Arabic spot to get my fix. …


Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

During my early years of school, I was not challenged. I basically skipped 2nd grade. I went to school that year, but I didn’t learn anything. Often I would wait off to the side while the class finished an assignment I already knew how to do.

My mom always motivated me to do well, but doing well didn’t take any effort for a long time. That changed when I got to 7th grade. Some genius math teacher saw “potential” in me and decided I should be in an advanced math class. …


Gece Kusu Instagram

Don’t you just love the food here? I get that question often in Istanbul. The answer is yes, I do love the food here. The ingredients are local and fresh, the dishes simple and delicious. Turks will tell you that the best food in the world is in this country.

Some of my favorite food comes from a cafeteria-style restaurant where you can eat the food a Turkish grandmother would make. It’s homestyle food that is always cheap and tasty.

I love Turkey and it’s food, but sometimes I crave a different type of homestyle food. …


It happens all the time here. A homeless person or a refugee approaches me and begs for money. Sometimes a child will wrap themselves around my leg — an old pick-pocketing tactic.

One day I was with a friend when it happened. Someone walked up to us with their hand out, pleading for even one Turkish Lira. To put that into perspective, one U.S. Dollar buys about six Lira at the time of this writing. My friend and I did what we always do — pretend we don’t see or hear them and keep walking. As far as problem-solving goes…

Marlon Wells

Freelance Writer. Music listener. Food eater.

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