Sunday, October 21, 2007

Salaam ,Istanbul

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 ?

"Everything Must Go"

A few weeks ago , finding a 2 hour gap between meetings , my colleague and I decide to spend it wisely . We research Oxford Street's newest retail trends.

Though am not much of a clothes person, I enjoyed watching my colleague check out the latest that M/S Hugo & Ilk had disgorged. And between his visits to the changing room, I avoided the shop assistants' disdainful look (methinks 5-year old ColorPlus Chinos take away from me) leafing through the stores glossies.

One glossy -"Suits for Hire" (Yes, and I was getting heat from Mr Snooty Tight Pants for wearing my own Chinos) was intriguing. Having made a note to myself " So,this is how HRH's Subjects get natty ", I FFWD to Intriguing part.

One of the priciest morning suits on hire was the Nehru jacket.I asked Mr STP nonchalantly if anyone indeed did hire these Nehru jackets. Dismissing my query with a haughty "Yes " he added with practised ease,"And no, its not Indians. But by gentlemen with better taste"(than Mr ColorPlus Chinos, presumably).

Hmmm. After a lifetime of trying to foist(!) Marxist ideals Che ends up as coffee mug merchandise in wannabe Starbucks. And The Architect(!) of Socialist India as a jacket for hire in Oxford Street. A free world leads to a Free Market, I suppose. Or is it the other way around ?