Politics spoken here...
I am fortunate to have spent nearly five years in Türkiye, courtesy
of my job. As part of the preparation and orientation process, we who
were headed to the mid-east were cautioned not to get involved in
discussions of politics
with any of the "natives".
But, after I became moderately proficient in Turkish, and finally
expanded our circle of friends to include more Turks than foreigners, I
found that it was nearly impossible to avoid the subject without being
considered stand-offish or uninteresting by the Turks.
Two memorable conversations have stuck with me.
My wife and I were in Sinop, atop the old Roman wall overlooking the
harbor. My wife exchanged pleasantries with a young Turkish couple, but
soon found herself in uncharted linguistic waters. I walked over to
assist her and we all had a nice chat. Soon we were joined by two ladies
who, it turned out, were part of a dance group from the Ukraine on tour
in Türkiye. One of these ladies spoke heavily accented Turkish which, to
me, was comprehensible but difficult.
In Turkey - Türkiye'de
Tüm diğer müzik fırsatları için tıklayın !
Both the Turk couple and the Ukranian lady wanted to talk politics.
Not in an adversarial way, but they were interested in America's foreign
and attitudes concerning the problems in the Balkans. Since I was
and still am not qualified to explain the U.S. foreign policy, we ended
up having a very interesting, non-confrontational discussion of
perceptions and how they effect both governments and people.
We parted friends.
On the same trip we stopped in Amasya for a bit of touring spread over
a couple of days. Basically the same thing happened.
We walked to the
market just behind our hotel to check out the produce. As we were buying
peaches at one of the stalls, the owner asked generally the same
we had heard in Sinop. Nothing threatening or adversarial, just an
intense desire to understand and be understood.
Eventually a number of people gathered around to hear the discussion.
Everyone seemed curious, possibly because of the foreigner speaking
passable Turkish, but no one was distressed or negative during the
conversation. When we paid for the peaches and left for our hotel, the shop keeper
and several of the observers shook our hands
The lesson I took from these experiences was that Turks, like almost
everyone else in the world, are curious. If you talk with them, rather
than to them, and discuss rather than preach, a lot of understanding is
possible and friendships result.
BB (May '98)
In Turkey - Türkiye'de
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