Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A tale of two bosses

Yesterday was a pretty nice day in Istanbul that began with a coffee and a kunefe (an Arabic pastry made with fine vermicelli-like pastry, with honey and pistachio nuts) in one of my favorite pastry places -- if you've been on the Travelife Magazine Amazing Tour of Turkey, you'll know exactly where this is. I hadn't planned to stop by the shops afterwards as I had so many other countries to see and shop in, but I couldn't resist taking a peek inside especially after seeing the magical word (and incidentally, one of my favorites) Indirim (Sale) splattered all over window panes of the clothing shops along Istiklal Caddessi. Many had the magic numbers 50% written on them as well.

Istiklal Caddessi, by the way, is the longest pedestrain avenue in Turkey and the heart of most of Istanbul's commercial life. In the 1920s, it was the height of fashion to turn up here in one's best attire for afternoon tea and a bit of window shopping. Very much like Manila's Escolta or Tokyo's Nihonbashi in the old days.

Finally we continued on to a walk down the ancient neighborhoods of Beyoglu now filled with coffee shops, antique shops, hardware stores and artsy boutiques, and then finally to a casual but tasty lunch by the sea of freshly caught anchovies fried in a light batter for an appetizer, a Turkish salad and grilled fish with lots of lemon squeezed on it.


This part of Istanbul is a hodge-podge of everything crammed into narrow streets running up and down hills. There's certainly no zoning here although there seems to be some order to how the stores are arranged. Roughly, you can make out that there's a street for musical instruments, another for records, still another for electric generators (of all things) and another street full of stores that sold screws and nails of all kinds. Interestingly, they're all in the same neighborhoods.

One street that did catch my fancy was full of little boutiques selling one-off clothes that the owners obviously made themselves. It was really fun to tinker around here trying to find the perfect dress amidst hundreds of choices. I also got an idea of what Turkish fashion is about. Judging from what was on sale, people here seem to like loose caftans and long flowing dresses with colorful prints. Price-wise, it wasn't too cheap -- but then, you are getting a one-off dress that no one else will have.

Artsy vintage clothes for sale

Shopful of curiosities


After walking around a bit, I headed back to my hotel to do some work and catch up on emails. The first thing I did was shoot off an email to my friend M in Manila, the one I was bumping into everyday last week and with whom I'm hatching a project with. (Note: I'd initially named this friend Z; but then I just realized there was already a Z in this blog, so I've renamed him M, just so readers don't confuse him with Z, my other friend, who is always on the lookout for party girls and a good time...)

"Just because we've broken the cycle of meeting up everyday, I hope you haven't forgotten our project..." I teased him via email, as somehow my Blackberry's not functioning well in Turkey and I'd been on a plane for half the weekend, so we hadn't really been in touch for two days. It turns out he'd been working on our project -- or at least thinking about it a lot -- and fortunately he was on his iPad. He immediately replied with an impressively long email -- impressively long especially for an iPad, that is -- full of details and what we should do next. He ended a string of back-and-forth messages with what was practically an order, albeit a well-intentioned one: "Get to work or someone else will steal our thunder."


As you can imagine, I'm not really used to being ordered around. Fortunately, he used the word "our" so at least there's a hint of joint ownership there. But here's a riddle for you: What happens when two bosses get together to work on a project?

Answer: One of them still gets to be the boss.

I don't think I have to say more than that although I'm sure M would disagree, saying that waiting around for me and escorting me to parties isn't exactly part of a CEO's job description. As for me, well, my assignments certainly kept me busy for the rest of last night. I was up most of the time, laboring over my Mac. I like working with M, however, because he's as quick and decisive as I am. It's like wham-bham-boom and we have a contract. Slow people kill me.


Funnily, at about the same time that this was going on, I had emails as well from two friends who like to think they're the long-lost J in the blog. Obviously, one of them is, and one of them isn't. Now I've promised not to write about anyone called J in the blog anymore as too many people are losing sleep and working themselves up about it for nothing, but this was just too funny -- that two guys were emailing me simultaneously and signing themselves off as J at the same time. But one was calling himself "J the nicer one" and the other was calling himself "J the real one." I'll leave you to guess who's who, but I can tell you that one of them is J from the blog.

Anyway, I completely agreed that one of them was "J the nicer one," but the less nice J can be fun to talk to as well when he's not being too complicated. But, unfortunately, that's only once
in a very rare while lately. I answered the less nice J's email, and -- since we were already at it with these catchphrases and all -- this time I signed myself as "the only one." And I couldn't resist adding: "By the way: just because you're the real one, it doesn't mean you're the only one."

But of course he knew that already. All in good fun, and then it was back to work -- even here in Istanbul, with my Mac on my lap and a beautiful view of the Bosphorus and the Topkapi Palace from my terrace.

Travelife's Special Summer Issue
with Angel Aquino in Boracay
Angel Aquino in Bora
for Travelife Magazine's April-May 2011 issue


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