(flying to Istanbul, Turkey from Tajikistan...)
I find myself back in Istanbul's Ataturk airport, sitting in the exact spot in the same cafe that I did before I flew to Tajikistan. I know I know, it's incredibly cliche to do these sort of "post-experience reflections" but I'm not even trying to avoid that, so here it goes. I am kind of in personal amazement at what I have gone through these past two months. I don't physically feel different (well...I lost some weight...) but with any experience comes growth and I'm sure that I have done a little bit of that.
(Cafe in Istanbul...loved it!)
I realized that I never posted while I was 8 days in Istanbul. Let me just quickly comment (I have to catch my 12 hour flight home!) that it is an AMAZING city--cosmopolitan, dynamic, diverse, exciting. Turkish is an incredibly difficult language to pick up but I managed to learn a few key words from my handy phrase-book and recently I have been able to fool everyone! Just after saying "mehraba" (hello) to the waiter in the airport and "bir espresso lotfen" (one espresso please) he thought I was Turkish! Now, I'm sure that being tan-skinned helps me because I'm sure I have an accent.
(The call to prayer resonated throughout the city 5 times a day...)
Turkey is a fascinating country...it is literally the bridge between east and west--Istanbul is surrounding a body of water called the Bosphorus and on one side is the continent of Europe and on the other is the continent of Asia! While walking down Istanbul streets, you will see a group of girls in tank tops, shorts, and high heels and they will be walking next to a group of girls wearing the headscarf and Islamic attire. On first glance, I was amazed that there was such cohabitation without violence/conflict. On talking with Turkish friends, however, I realized that the country is going through a period of change. Basically, Turkey is the only Muslim country that is secular, but there has been an increase in popularity with the Islamic political party and more and more women are seen wearing the headscarf than before. I'm not sure what will happen, but some people think that Turkey could become like Iran.....that's an extreme though, I think.
Anyways, enough about politics. I have to go catch this plane...but first, I'm off to the CD shop to buy some Turkish pop music!