This week as I ask myself “What am I doing here?” the answer is in the smiling and helpful faces of all these Turks around me. Yes, the stereotype I held before coming here certainly never included anything like the word lovable when I thought of Turks. Instead I thought of Midnight Express, big Turkish mustaches, sodomy, the movie airplane and the mention of Turkish prisons, Turkish bath houses, more sodomy, drugs, Midnight Express again, Turkish delight, Narnia (since that was the only thing I knew about Turkish delight), Turkish coffee, hookahs, and some vague ideas of the bad guys in World War I or the sort of duncy bad guys in World War II – oh yeah, and sodomy and Midnight Express.
Most of these associations came from films and TV shows like Indiana Jones, The Mummy, Lawrence of Arabia, Midnight Express and the extreme exotic oriental-ism of the west combined with some of the worst racial stereotyping in history. Seriously, I’m ashamed of the ideas I had about Turks before I came here because the fact of the matter is that Turks are among the most lovable people I’ve ever come across. Don’t get me wrong, they will certainly cheat you if you give them a chance when you are doing business with them, they will lie to you and break your heart if you let them (just ask any of the many foreign women who come here, get charmed, and then learn that they are dating a married man who has no intention of leaving his family) and if it comes down to a fight, you can probably expect a knife or a gun to come into play at some point. The average Turk is just as dangerous as any biker gang member. And, there probably is some sodomy and a bit of the Midnight Express going on beneath the surface….
But, walk down a busy street and look lost and someone is sure to ask you if they can help. If you let them help, they will go to no small ends to assist you – down to paying for the taxi they finally put you in or walking you for two miles to ensure you find your destination. If you offer them payment for this help or try to pay for your own cab, they will most certainly refuse. Invite a Turk out to lunch and unless you make it clear from the beginning that you intend to pay and manage to argue about it and win – the Turk will pay. Ask a favor of a Turk, even a mere acquaintance and they will go to great lengths to fulfill it. Need I mention that you will be brought tea when you go to the bank and have to wait? Or the idea that the same cab driver or carpet merchant that will happily overcharge you for your fare or rug will also invite you to a dinner that will exceed the overcharge by 2 or 300%?
Why do they do this? Because when it comes down to it, there is something that is very good and decent going on inside of Turkish people. That same man who has a girlfriend, a wife, and three prospects actually loves each one and might spoil them all – and as to the right and wrong of what he is doing? If it was wrong, he wouldn’t be doing it. For him (or her) is simply is right. And I suppose this brings me to the physical characteristics of the Turks – I’m not sure there are a better looking people on the planet. Walk through the streets of Izmir or Istanbul and you will see men and women seemingly everywhere who look like Hollywood actresses and actors. Better looking actually. Obviously not all of them – there are plenty of older baba women and old Turkish farmer types with round bellies and full mustaches….along with the dark Kurdish and Arab types – which I suppose is something I should clear up right away – Turks are not Arabs. Turks are not Kurds. Kurds are not Arabs. They are all different. Turks are light skinned, Mediterranean looking people. Often they look less dark than Greeks. And, here is something else, Turks are descended from Asians so they sometimes look like they are Korean or Chinese more than Arab or Indians.
So, what am I doing here among these beautiful Turks? For the past week, I’ve been web-slaving away, building websites, doing SEO, and writing copy. All of this while drinking apple tea and trying not to eat the rich and delicious baklava or borek which always seems to be at hand. I’m searching for a reasonably priced house to move my family into and taking photos as I cross the Bosphorus, wander around the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, stroll through the oldest, largest covered shopping center in the world and idly wander through some of the most impressive architecture in the world.
By the way, did I mention that I managed to implement the coolest hotel booking engine in the world onto this very site? Give it a try Hotels.Vagobond.Com and while you’re at it…check out the incredible flight booking engine we now run Flights.Vagobond.Com – so, that’s what I’m doing here too. Turning Vagobond.com into the place where you can find the best prices on hotels or flights for your adventures, business, or relaxing holidays.
And, in the meantime, I ‘m surrounded by all these lovable Turks. Life really is pretty fantastic.