My first brush with Turkey was as a child, when we had to learn the capitals of all the countries in the world. I must have been in the third or fourth grade I suppose. Now this was in the ’80’s and one had to buy special books that contained all this information. It wasn’t as easily accessible as it is today – like the tap of a finger . That was the first time I came to know that a country called ‘Turkey’ existed. I was still unaware about a bird existing with the same name though. I learnt that the capital was Ankara and the phrase “Turkey-Ankara” just rolled off my tongue and was one of the easier ones compared to let’s say “Iceland-Reykjavik”. I knew that it was at the cross section of two continents – Europe & Asia or Eurasia, where East met west, Religions intertwined, and important trade routes existed. That formed the foundation of an indelible curiosity, that still exists about this place that I want to visit.
Over the years, Turkey kept being mentioned as part of academia. I learnt about the prominent Turkish invasions like those by Mahamud ghaznavi and Mohammed ghori, which permanently changed India as we know it today. And then followed the pop culture references. I liked listening to world music – Greek, oriental, Turkish, Finnish and many others. As expected, Turkish music has a lot of influences from Europe, Asia, Africa. It all percolated down my senses into a tiny memory pocket somewhere.
Then followed the visual influences. Even though Istanbul was part of the locations of popular films like “From russia with love”, it was only when I watched the Bollywood film “Guru”, that I got mesmerised by the beauty of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul as well as the Nuruosmaniye mosque, Istanbul, where “Mayya Mayya” was shot. After that, visuals of Turkey always sprang out at me, whenever I would watch any films shot there. And I would have a sense of deja vu, without having visited the place, ever. The latest such instance was when I watched Skyfall – the most recent Bond film and saw Daniel craig, tearing down on a motorcycle through labyrinth corridors and grand bazaar rooftops. I wanted to jump behind him and chase him over the fascinating landscape. I know the labyrinth routine was a set but at least the bazaar setting was real :).
Being a photographer, I come across a lot of ethereal travel photography, some of which is from Turkey of course. All this exposure has intrigued me even more and I really want to visit the mosques, the spice market at Istanbul, see the nightlife at Antalya, travel back in time in the underground city of Derinkuyu, experience hot air ballooning at Cappadocia & catch a sunrise while flying over the fairy chimneys, take a dip in the hot springs at Pamukkale, visit Roman ruins at Izmir and much more! I would love to immerse myself in the cultural melting pot that is Turkey, experience the Byzantine & European drifts, be at the centre of Eurasia, capture some precious memories to narrate to others and seek out the familiar India within that land! If you vote for me, I could do all this for real! Pls vote here: http://turkeytourism.in/contest-entries.php?cid=2&ceid=71
This post is an entry in the “Million Stories” Contest sponsored by the Turkish Embassy, India.