Dear Turkey, I left you with a heavy heart, etched with the magnanimity of your people. A kind lady in the small town of Safranbolu opened her doors to me on a late rainy afternoon, to feed my vegetarian self a special meal of Peruhi (Turkish pasta) and Pasta (cake in Turkish) prepared for a family gathering. An old man from a bakery in Ordu gave me a ride in his truck to the town’s chocolate factory, after I walked five kilometers and stumbled into his shop for directions for the remaining three. A family living in an isolated hut on Boztepe Hill invited me in for a meal of home grown aubergine. A blacksmith who found me admiring his creations invited me in for çay and proclaimed his eternal love for Hindistan even though he had never been there. A young otel (hotel) owner in Cide went out of her way to ensure that I boarded the right connecting buses to my next destination without losing money or time. A cafe owner in the small town of Ordu, where I impulsively got …
Once ominous and difficult to navigate, the Black Sea derived its name before the Greek colonized its shores, and was often more blatantly referred to as Inhospitable Sea. No, it is not black in color. On the contrary, it flows in an entire spectrum of blue, along the coast of northern Turkey, where I fell in love with it at first sight. Such are its shades, such is the intensity of sunsets over it, and such are the skies that protect it.
In the wee hours of the morning, I manoeuvre my way through the cobbled streets and ancient stonewalls of Safranbolu, a small town in the western Karadeniz region of Turkey. I had been reluctant to leave Istanbul, probably the first big city I’ve fallen so in love with, but as I step back in time into a 300 year old Ottoman house perched on a slope, I’m glad I came! Genghis, my host, greets me with a warm smile and bits of English, and shows me to my quaint room in the part of the house now converted into a pansiyon (pension aka guest house).
Dear Turkey, I am at your Ataturk International Airport as I write this, waiting to board my Turkish Airlines flight back to India. You have welcomed me with arms wide open, charmed me with your beauty, and overwhelmed me with the kindness of your people. In the last 20 days, I have picked up pieces of your language, learned to maneuver your territory, indulged my taste buds in your food, and in a moment I didn’t anticipate, I have come to know you as my home in another part of the world. I quickly built my first impressions of you when I got here, and if there is one thing I would change of them, it is that you are more beautiful and your people more hospitable than I could have imagined.