That was what my favorite Turkish instructor, Suad Bay, would say when he entered the classroom. And talk Turkey we did. I took the State Department’s short course, 3 months, and came out speaking basic Turkish. I can still manage to get around the place when I visit.
In fact I will be visiting Istanbul this September en route back to the USA. I got a fantastic deal from DC to Madrid on Turkish Airlines (THY for Turk Hava Yollari) which included stops in Istanbul to and from Madrid. And the airline earns its award as Europe’s best airline in 2012. When did you last get all the booze you wanted at no charge in tourist class or a great meal or a smalll tavel bag with slippers, toothbrush, ear phones, sleeping mask, and blanket? Individual screen video for films or whatever.
But I am a bit worried about going through Istanbul this September. Will there still be demonstrations in the streets or worse?
As I have said before, I lived twice in Turkey, first as a diplomat and next as a businessman. I know the country having toured every part and like the people. So I have more than a casual interest in what is happening there now.
I am amused by the demonstration against bulding a new complex in Taksim Square and the park next to it. Both times I lived in Turkey I lived in Ankara, which is actually older than Istanbul, but made many trips to the “Megapolis on the Bosphorous.” I can take you on a tour of the place.
Anyone who knows Taksim as I do knows that it is a big, ugly,open bus station. There is nothing attractive or charming about it. It is not Times Square, Trafalgar Square, or Place Concorde. It is just a big ugly bus stop. Anything they do to it would be an improvement. So as most quickly saw, the demonstrations were not against rebuilding Taksim, but had a larger target, the government of Prime Minister Erdogan (the g is slilent). And it goes to the very definition of Turks.
When people ask what the Turks are like I always respond, “A Turk has no problem saying I am a Turk and is immensely proud of his nationality. But the Turk does not know what a Turk is. I mean in each Turk there is a basic dichotomy, am I of the West or the East?” And this is what we see playing out in Istanbul and Ankara today.
Let’s hope it does not blow up to a full scale civil war as is raging in Syria. I would not want to see such grief and agony visited on the Turks. And I still have to go through Istanbul in September.