Istanbul, Turkey

This guy had sandbags strapped to his legs so he wouldn't fly away. #istanbul #hagiasophia #balloons

A photo posted by Scott Zuniga (@scottzuniga) on

No city in the world has inspired me more than Istanbul. When you are there, it feels like you are visiting three cities in one. It's the only place that I know of where the worlds of East and West so effortlessly come together in a circus of food, architecture and culture.

While visiting Istanbul in December of 2009, I read Orhan Pamuk's classic novel My Name is Red. The presence of the Ottoman times that the novel describes are still felt as you walk the streets, mosques, and markets of that ancient city and smell the same thousand-year-old scents.The 19th chapter of the book is titled 'I Am a Gold Coin' and is narrated by a small gold coin who describes his part in the drama. To me, the idea of an inanimate object taking a central role in a narrative was amazingly creative and inspired my song 'I Am a Coin.'

I don’t understand all these names you gave me / Or the little games you invent to save me / While I hide out in your safe / Night and daytime you come borrow me

I plant a little seed so you get discouraged / I can make a man feel like his hurt is all he’ll feel in this world / And there’s so many men in this world

I’m the root of all this city’s evil / And the one who’s feeding all your people / While I fall down and inflate / And when you are sleeping I stay awake

And people curse my name/ For all they’ve got is not all they want / People bite my face and place their bets on my tails or head

I’m the little coin that sends you working / Sweat along your brow until you’ve fallen / And you lay down in the earth When you’ve quit talking / I’m still alive!

In everyday life, I'll often catch my mind wandering back to Istanbul and wondering when I will be able to return there for an extended stay. Here are a few pictures of our very brief but memorable time there, taken by our good friend and photographer Ketan Gajria.