June 2020 marks a fifth year anniversary of my move to Istanbul. The past few months of the pandemic gave me a chance to explore this enchanting city more intimately, than in all the years of living here. I set out to portray the city in crisis and confinement, but what I found was a diverse social fabric where pockets of hope and human resilience prevailed. As a tribute to the multiple layers of Istanbul’s unique cultural identity, I have collected stories of the so-called “non-essential workers”, whose lives have been derailed by the pandemic. As they spoke to me, they related not just fears, but also hopes and musings about the future and ways of trying to adapt to a new reality. From street vendors to magicians, barbers to dancers, hamam scrubbers to imams, each of them ex- pressed dignity at the face of hardship and a unique way of resisting and overcoming their daily stresses. In his memoire - Istanbul: Memories and the City, Orhan Pamuk wrote: “If I see my city as beautiful and bewitching, then my life must be so too.” As I explored the various parts of this vast megapolis and connected with its inhabitants in their own microcosms, their moods and feelings imprinted on mine. In this process, I began to embrace the city as my own in a way that I haven’t done before.