x0x Best of both worlds in Istanbul
Given Turkey's strategic location, the country believes it is part of both
Asia and Europe.
So do Turks consider themselves Asian or European?. I casually ask our
host Adnan Aykac over lunch at Matbah Restoran, in Istanbul's Ottoman
Hotel Imperial, which serves authentic cuisine from the Ottoman era.
Aykac, General Manager (Northern and Eastern India) for Turkish Airlines,
appears momentarily taken off-guard but recovers quickly: .Oh, we are
both,. he smiles, .though the younger generation today think of themselves
He couldn't have put it better. Turks have always had the luxury (or is it
confusion?) of mixed heritage: European and Asian, though one is tempted
to think that it is more of the latter than the former. But there is no
doubt what the youngsters consider themselves to be. They dress, eat,
speak and behave more like the Europeans do.
Indeed, Istanbul, or at least the modern part of it, appears more like a
European city than the throbbing port city of an ancient country, which is
what it actually is. Make no mistake, if you expected head-scarves, women
with hijab or men with flowing beards, you'd be disappointed.
Turkey is a secular, progressive and modern country with Muslims
accounting for more than 95 per cent of the population. The credit for
this secular ethos goes to the founding father of modern Turkey, Mustafa
Kemal Ataturk, but that's another story.
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