One of the things that made Turkey special, without doubt, was the fact that they were some of the friendliest and warmest people that I have ever met.
They were extremely helpful whenever we asked them anything. In case a person didn’t know English or couldn’t answer our query then he or she would go and call someone else who could. They would really go out of the way to be helpful. There were times when people came and stopped us and pointed out that one of our bags were open. Then there were a couple of times when there were people who came and asked us whether we were lost and needed help in navigating the local transport.
Especially memorable was the elderly gentleman who saw us at the Taksim Metro ticket counter, thought we were lost, and insisted on guiding us on how to reach our destination, Topkapi Palace. He was very earnest so I couldn’t break it him that we knew the drill by then. So we just played along. He had a very kind looking face and got off abruptly before we could thank him. I tried to click him from inside the train for memory. Not that I will ever forget him.
Then there was an old lady near our second hotel who was selling lace handkerchiefs. Kainaz felt she reminded her off of Mamma and took a photograph with her. She later bought a handkerchief and the old granny kept beaming and kept repeating ‘merci, ciao, terrekezen(thank you in Turkish).
They were quite sporting too. There was a ‘Turkish ice cream seller’ at Goreme park in Cappadocia. He saw me taking a picture and insisted on doing a flourish with the ice cream so that we could get a good picture.
Have you ever had a hotel owner literally feeding you? Well, there was this kindly, avuncular, gent who insisted on feeding ravioli with a spoon to Kainaz in his restaurant. He also told her to mix chilly flakes and salata (a local salad spice) in the ravioli and was clearly keen to ensure that she enjoyed her meal in his restaurant… or should I say house. The board behind had letters of appreciation from people all over the world. I was not surprised to see so many and added my own too.
And of course there was this young man at Starbucks who did not understand my order of cikolata (chocolate) frappuccino at first. When he realised this, he was so upset about it that he came and gave me a free one. I struck gold through our little ‘lost in translation’ tableux as cicolata frappuccino was the most heavenly drink that I had ever had.
There were so many more. The earnest poster seller in windy Taksim Square, the enterprising maitre d at the Museam hotel, the cheerful young man from our travel agency at Istanbul, the friendly shop keepers in the spice market…I love Turkey!!!