Friday, June 22, 2007

Turkey Travelogue 1 (June 4-5) - Culture Shock

Scene 1: A friendly interchange with an immigration officer on our arrival in Minneapolis reminded me of a conversation I had had the previous week with a Canadian NT scholar who teaches in the U.S. Canadian disdain for Americans, she said, boils down to prejudice. So perhaps I need to think twice before I attribute the following to typical small-minded American swagger:

Border Guard (BG): Where do you live?
d.: Caronport, Saskatchewan
BG: Where are you going?
d.: Turkey
BG: Why Turkey?
d.: Vacation
BG: Why don't you vacation in the U.S.?
d.: smile
BG: What do you do in Canada?
d.: I teach at a college.
t.: And I'm a student.
BG: Not his student I hope?
d. and t.: NO!
BG: Have a good trip.

No doubt there are typical Americanisms, but the charge of prejudice rings true when I react negatively to people merely because their accent reminds me of the border guard.

Scene 2: The airport was loaded with army personnel dressed in military fatigues. It reminded me of Israel--with the crucial distinction that these weren't packing automatic weapons. I noticed one soldier sporting a small American flag from her backpack. Also hanging from her backpack was a teddy bear.

Scene 3: After several hours in the airport we discovered a quiet sitting area away from the maddening crowd. t. found the sofa more conducive to a nap than the floor.

Scene 4: Over 24 hours after leaving home, with a 6 hour layover in Minneapolis and another 3 hours in Amsterdam's smoky Schiphol airport, we landed in Istanbul, paid for our $20 U.S. visitors' visas (the visa for Canadians is $60 U.S.), and made our way by LRT and streetcar to the old Sultan Ahmet area of the city,
and, finally, to our air-conditioned room at the Apricot Hotel:

P.S. In case you were wondering, there is UPS service to Sultan Ahmet:

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