Turkish Hospitality

For those who are unfamiliar with Turkiye and Ataturk, one of his famous quotes, which I was reminded of during a visit to Minaturk in Istanbul, is (roughly translated) happy is the one who calls himself a Turk. After this past weekend — combined with other weekends before it where I experienced Turkish hospitality firsthand — I would like to memorialize another quote: Hospitable is the one who calls herself/himself a Turk. But I need to amend it slightly when I think of my Kurdish friends:

 Hospitable is the one who calls herself/himself a Turk or a Kurd.

And if my readers will indulge me, my attempt to be more gender neutral has made the quote somewhat clunky, so I will further amend it:

 Hospitable are the people who call themselves Turks or Kurds.

Now I’m still left with a dilemma because the revised quote could be seen as implying that Turks (and Kurds by extension) are not happy — as was claimed in the original from Ataturk. I do not wish to suggest this at all. Both seem very happy to me. Of course, I have encountered a few angry Turks here and there (especially on the Metrobus in Istanbul), but on the whole it’s a happy, friendly place. I have never felt as at home here as I do now. Yet, of course, it has only been a month, and I have many more ahead of me that will undoubtedly bring challenges of all sorts (some likely involving things other than hospitality and happiness) — but nonetheless it’s great to feel so comfortable in a foreign land so soon after arriving.

I am completely won over by the concept of taking pride in caring for others. There are many things that people take pride in that I find quite negative, such as how nice their car/house is; for me this is one of the most positive. We should take pride in being kind to those who are in need or who are looking for a good time and hoping to learn about a new culture. I say this after feeling it firsthand, and I am now committed to being a more hospitable person myself. We can all use our gratitude to ‘pay it forward’ instead of to pay back, which has a negative connotation in more communal cultures (where individuals are more likely to see their actions as serving a broader community or familial purpose rather than as merely helping another individual, who then would owe a debt of some sort). This is how peace is cultivated.

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