Thursday, March 29, 2007

Istanbul for breakfast

Breakfast remnants
Originally uploaded by camille_in_istanbul.
This morning started really really really badly. Shitty even. I opened the door around 7.30 as I was heading for an early morning flight. My morning boost was lost immediately as I realised that it was pouring down. I cast my worry for my laptop aside as it was not the first time I cycled with it in the rain. I turned to unlock my bike only to find out that some f****r had stolen my precious bright green vehicle. I was already running slightly behind my schedule and the prospect of relying on the Amsterdam (ever so unreliable) public transport made me slightly worried.

In the end things worked out, I comforted myself at the central station with an expensive yoghurt-strawberry smoothie and am now sitting on the plane on my way to Istanbul’s Sabanci University (well, first, Atatürk Airport). I am attending a British Council event (Network Effect) for young professionals on public-private partnerships in building a welfare state. I am in an Advisory Board for the project which is superfun (international project, great and intelligent people). I am really looking forward to this weekend although my voice is still a bit down due to the flu earlier this week.

Yep, Turkey again. Or to be more precise Istanbul. I was there last year four times and this year I know that I am heading there at least on three occasions. I am starting to love the city. It is mostly due to the wonderful people I know there. My Istanbul is not “a bridge between East and West” or “The Gate to the Orient” or a “Muslim capital” but a group of sincere, intelligent, passionate, kind and hospitable people. My Istanbul invites me to its homes, to the hip underground bars, plays top-of-the-class electro rock, gathers into a cafe for a four-hour breakfast and produces the funkiest T-shirts on the planet.

I met part of my Istanbul friends for a drink last Sunday as they were performing in Amsterdam. Some things they said really stuck to my head which is why I also shared them with a number of my colleagues who are heading to Turkey in April:

“If you look at the Turkish history, we have always been forced to adapt. Adjusting is part of our character so the development of the last few years is nothing new. In the same way as complaining is part of belonging to the Turkish ingelligentsia.”

“Our music does not sound at all Turkish, I mean we sing electro rock in English with no darbukas, so we get this questions of the bridge between East and West all the time. I must confess that I am slightly fed up with it. I mean, I would like to talk in the interviews more about our music and less about our government or the Kurdish question.”

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