travel writing

Welcome to Turkey

    Turkey flower flag at Ataturk Mausoleum

    We arrived in Turkey at a very interesting time. The Battle for Turkey’s Soul is afoot, pitting the “sons and daughters” of Atatürk (as well as the Turkish military) versus the “headscarf republic,” or Islamists. Hundreds of thousands of Turkish secularists have marched in Istanbul and Ankara at the slightest hint that the prime minister and president of this country both could come from the AK Party. Yet there are some people here that believe that the silent majority favors a government that has strong ties to faith.

    Turkey is fascinating because it is the only majority Muslim country that is devoutly secularist. Atatürk’s mission to fashion Turkey into a modern republic included banning religious dress within state institutions. Therefore, for instance, women who wear headscarves and wish to study at the university must remove their scarves in the classroom. A revelation (to me) during these few weeks of constitutional crisis is that Prime Minister Erdo?an sends his daughter to school in the U.S. so that she can study at university AND wear a headscarf. It’s the difference of freedom from religion (Turkey) and freedom of religion (U.S.).

    I cannot even personally begin to understand nor analyze the situation in Turkey. And, I don’t know if I want to – at least not in this forum. One thing I have come to learn in the few weeks that I have lived here is that Turks take themselves very, very seriously. As Jan Morris writes in the forward of Mary Lee Settle’s excellent book Turkish Reflections: A Biography of a Place:

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    ‘Trying Really Hard to Like India’

       

      india_goodbalance

      I think Slate’s Seth Stevenson is one of the best writers out there: hilarious, concise, and with a sarcasm that I can appreciate. He’s most famous for writing the webzine’s Ad Report Card, which is probably the only column that I read regularly. But now he’s gone and stolen my mojo with his new Well-Traveled piece:

      Trying Really Hard to Like India

      In all seriousness, his journal entries so far are dead-on correct. I’ve been building up to address the poverty that I see every day in Mumbai, but was waiting to compose my thoughts. Plus, of course, I don’t want to scare anyone from coming to visit me. But here’s a little slice of my daily views and dealings with the everyman outside of the gates.
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      What Travel Writing Should Be

        I have been absolutely riveted by Richard Bangs story on his Tour of Libya for Slate.com.

        As much as I may like to fancy myself a travel writer, I’ve certainly got a lot to learn from Bangs and others who occasionally write engaging pieces.

        Last year, I tried querying Tom Swick of the South Florida Sun Sentinel with several article ideas. All were rejected, sadly, but he did direct me to read his article that details what makes a good travel story. Hopefully he won’t mind if I post it here – maybe he’ll get better queries from us so-called travel writers.
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