From the moment we set foot in Istanbul it felt like we had fallen into a love affair of sorts. It didn’t matter that we had unknowingly stationed ourselves for the next month in Balat, or Little Tehran as it’s known, Istanbul’s most traditional Muslim neighborhood. It took us a while to come to this realization but Balat was quite literally like no other neighborhood in the city. Our apartment was directly on its fringes; one block downhill put us in a rather typical Istanbul setting while one block uphill was a scene plucked right out of the Middle East. Women flowed down the cobblestoned streets in shapeless black burkas, their eyes and noses peeking out of small triangular openings in the fabric while their fathers, brothers and partners wore sported thick beards and dressed in long gray trench coats and finely embroidered flat-topped hats.