Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | March 4, 2011

Interesting customers at molly’s cafe

Part of running Molly’s Café means having conversations with the customers. We have the mutual ‘where are you from- how long have you been here’ questions and then go on from there.


Quite a few people who work in the region come here. Several aid workers have come by ones and twos from Sudan, for example. This included a whole family of Italians one time. They are happy to come to cooler weather and easier conditions. Not long ago a couple came in who were working in Ethiopia. During the troubles in Tunisia a Canadian couple came in who were on their way back to their teaching jobs there. They admitted that it was crazy to go back to anarchy, but that was where their home currently was. One man was here and said he worked in Iraq but lived in Jordan. When I questioned what he did, he said reconstruction, but to me he seemed a little dodgy; however, perhaps you have to have a dodgy side to work in a dangerous place. One customer who came in was a plump creamy chocolate skinned woman. She had a flat in Kabul, where she worked with aid organizations. She also lived in Thailand, but comes to Istanbul a few times a year. She said she was from Johannesburg. When I commented that I had heard that Johannesburg was very dangerous, she said that it was actually more dangerous than Kabul, as in Johannesburg the violence was more random and more criminal.


Local foreigners come here, too, of course. I have written about that before– the poets and writers, the students and teachers, all coming to a quiet place to read or write. Now Molly’s Café is starting to get a name, which is nice, so locals come to check it out. Molly’s café has hosted several birthday parties, some going away parties, and a few special dinners for people who live here. That is good for my business too, as more new people are invited and often come back on their own.



Most of the tourists who come are very impressed by Istanbul and want to come again (easier if they live in Europe). I am very glad when French, German, and Austrian tourists in particular come, as many people in those countries do not like the Turkish immigrants (as well as others, I am sure), and these tourists can see the Turks on their own turf. Sometimes tourists tell me that they had been to Turkey before, but only to the Mediterranean or places like that, so they had finally come to Istanbul. Sometimes I am surprised at the tourists who come in, for they sit on the sofa or one of the big chairs for hours. I wonder how they are seeing the city. Others of course stop in for a brief respite and continue on with their sightseeing.


I love the random conversations that come up in Molly’s Café For example, recently a Turk and a Brazilian, both of whom came in randomly, had an intense conversation for an hour or more on a range of topics. These two young men hit it off as they spoke about politics in both countries (not so different in many ways), religion (quite different approaches), and, of course, futbol.


Another connection is the six degrees of separation. One day a couple of sisters from Oregon were in one room in the big chairs. In the main room were a group of Germans. It turned out that one of the Germans had married a woman from Oregon. The sisters did not know her and didn’t talk to the Germans, but it was funny that there was an Oregon connection. One day a man from Oregon came in here with his wife. He looked kind of familiar– it turned out he was the weatherman for channel 8 there and of course I had seen him many times when I lived in Oregon.


Then there is the American doctor who came here for six months to study a particular approach to a medical issue and the newly arrived American journalist who had been working in Iraq and Pakistan. Occasionally American soldiers come in who are on r & r, away from their work in Iraq or Afghanistan. There is a German journalist who comes for the quiet. He had lived in Serbia and Slovenia before this.




Not long ago a group of international people came in. One was a professor who had come once before. The sole woman was a Greek Cypriot. Her husband was an Armenian Turk. The third person was an Italian Dominican priest. They had a very interesting conversation about religion and how non-Muslim religions fit into Turkish society. It is a little difficult, but mostly people accept them. There are not many people attending church, however. The priest gave me his card, but I told him I don’t go to church. By the way, his church is around the corner and has been a church since the 1200s.


Another recent customer who I thought was very interesting was a young Pakistani man from the Suat Valley. He is a student here now. He told me that the Taliban came from the Suat Valley and when I asked if he knew any, he said he was sure some people in his family were Taliban. He was telling me that the Suat Valley is very beautiful, but instead of simit sellers you see people selling guns. These are often copies of the real things, but if you ever want a bazooka clone, you can get one there easily. He also told me that his uncle, now dead, had been an imam but was also a marijuana farmer. So interesting!


So, you can see why I really enjoy the people part of Molly’s Café I would say that 99% of the people are very nice and most are very interesting. Come and join in!








  1. And then there was that six-legged banana merchant from Venezuela who slipped on a banana peel, landed on his head and realised he was one of the long-lost Romanovs. Remember that guy, Molly? Seriousness aside, though, Molly fails to include herself in the “interesting people” list. She is one of the main reasons so many of us around the world frequent her cafe. Face it, put some drab money-money type at the helm and the cafe would sink faster than a bad reputation. Molly’s electric and flamboyant personality, as well as her attention to customers’ needs and good home cooking, keep us flying in from all over the planet.

  2. oh billy you are so kind!

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