It’s 2AM before my flight to Istanbul. I open WizzAir’s check-in. It prompts me with my visa number. Panicked, I frantically attempt a route-around—to no avail. Resigned to confinement in the UK, I belatedly click through the Turkish e-visa application. Two minutes later, I’ve checked into my flight.


If God requests love, then Allah demands respect.

I have never experienced something quite like being (unbeknownst to others) illictly present in a mosque for maghrib. I pass as Muslim: I’m brown, with long black hair and a beard that implies I’m a decade older than I am. While police in front of the Blue Mosque were shouting at pale-skinned Italian tourists that non-Muslims were barred from entry, I walked straight by with nary a stray glance.

A church has pews; a mosque has rugs. A church has an altar; a mosque has a mihrab. There is no pulpit, no elevation of the imam. There is no color, no asymmetry, no idol to revere. The effigies have truly been expunged. Luther would be proud.

In a church, you kneel. In a mosque, you bow. Prostration occurs not through another (as in Communion) but through oneself. Banker, baker, beggar—all equally supplicant, deferent in the name of Allah.

I knew this. I did not know this. It’s one thing to read the Quran, another thing to practice it, and quite another thing to practice it in Istanbul in perhaps the most majestic mosque ever built.

The Blue Mosque is closed to non-Muslims after 7PM for prayer. I pass as Muslim, so my half-ignorant self decided to walk in (after all, it was my last day in the city). I had never felt such spiritual violation before—but I was the violator.

Islam demands respect in a way I haven’t seen elsewhere. Perhaps this was a consequence of intruding upon a sacred ceremony in arguably the centre of the Islamic world, and certainly the centre of the Islamic Golden Age. I don’t think so.

Apart from that, the food was great! Doner++

eth conf

DevConnect was underwhelming.

The coworking space was quite good. It was centrally located, near a metro station, with food provided and surrounding restaurants. Bit hard to find anyone to talk to, though. Attending the events themselves was slightly annoying, as you had to get a separate wristband for each event. The satellite events were extremely unattended, and as always, advice for conferences like these is to find friends and/or come with friends.

Progcrypto was overwhelming! 0xparc put on a wonderful event, with accessible workshops, great talks, and even better palate cleansers. Met the Axiom lead and Wei Dai (not that Wei Dai).

maths communes

Nesin Kolyeri is one of a kind. A village in the Anatolian hills dedicated to educating the next generation about the wonders of mathematics. Founded by a prominent Erdogan critic, Ali Nesin, it is run by the people for the people (with a very tasteful library).

0xVillage was an event hosted by the village to bring together researchers working on the cutting edge of cryptographic methods—I went, and had a blast. Learned what fully holomorphic encryption was, how to write ZK circuits in Rust, and figured out that the crypto community had a different ArXiV (e-print). loved <3