Sunday, October 21, 2007
The Sophia Haggia is a remarkable monument. The Blue Mosque awe inspiring. And Istanbul ? Normal. Clean, wide boulevards. Cafes on promenades. Bookshops around every corner. 3 out of 4 are under the age of 30.Everyone smokes. All look as if they are either dressed to go to college (they probably are) or dressed to party (more likely). Its just about lunchtime.The city is buzzing. The air is crisp, and is soon filled with the call to the faithful from the mosques that dot the city's skyline. It is Ramadan. I too walk into (The Blue) Mosque. And watch the people as they come in. Men in cargos and gelled hair. Women in tees,streaked blonde,brunette... They bow, they pray, they leave. Once outside, they quickly fill up the bars, cafes and cars. Snatches of Akon, Linkin Park, 50 Cents mixed with excited chatter and ringing mobiles as they whiz away. Turkey is secular. Wearing religious head dress in Government offices is prohibited. As is in schools and colleges.Incidentally, nine out of ten follow Islam. As I said, Istanbul is normal. Why should it surprise you ?