Over the phone, Moris Farhi's raspy voice resounds with the leisured articulation of a native-born Briton. His birthplace, however, is Ankara, Turkey’s capital. Farhi, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the vice-president of International PEN, the worldwide literature organization, says he still can catch smells of his native land in his dreams, and, when awake, he tries to recapture them by strolling among the cafes of London’s mainly Turkish, Greek and Cypriot-populated Green Lanes.
Turkish and Kurdish shopkeepers defended the neighborhood during the riots of early August, which doesn’t surprise Farhi. “They created a phalanx and the rioters left,” Farhi said. “That’s still very much the Turkish spirit.” He goes to the area often to listen in to arguments of politics, which he finds nostalgic. “We knock [back] a few glasses of rakı and get involved in discussions. It's in a way an ambience that has been transported here, with the immigrants, but that was the general air of [the] Istanbul that I grew [up] in.”
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Maria Eliades is an Istanbul-based writer who covers Turkish literature and culture.