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Turkey is Typing…Midnight Express, Sweaters, and a Jar of Peanut Butter

What do the above items have in common? All of them and much more will be part of our hodge-podge edition of Turkish is Typing.

A couple of our bloggers have mentioned the film Midnight Express in their tomes lately, due to a new interview with the subject of the story Billy Hayes. If you are unfamiliar with the film and its impact on Turkey, Talk Turkey will fill you in:

My dear friend Leslie alerted me to ‘TurkLA,’ a Californian-Turks news portal, where Alinur Velidedeoglu's interviews with Billy Hayes, the real-life author of the book Midnight Express is posted. Of course, you know the rest of the story. Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay, Brad Davis, who according to some is the first heterosexual actor to die of AIDS, (not true since he was bisexual, and may actually have died of a drug overdose,) starred in it, and Turkey was left with an image problem, as a by product of the movie, that still exists today equal to millions of dollars of anti-Turkish public relations.

When I first told my father of my intentions on going to live in Turkey, he wasn't thrilled and he forced me to watch this film, hoping that it would persuade me to stay at home. My conclusion of the film is pretty similar to what Talk Turkey mentions from the Billy Hayes interview:

As once reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, “the message of ‘Midnight Express’ isn't ‘Don't go to Turkey,’ ” he said recently. “It's ‘Don't be an idiot like I was, and try to smuggle drugs.’ “


Films seemed to be a popular subject the past couple of weeks on the Turkish blogs. Aegean Disclosure discusses the International Istanbul Film Festival. And Broken Angel, a Turkish-American Film Project which is gaining support and endorsements from more than one corner of the blogosphere, hits cyberspace.

Moving on to the subject of language, Turkey and My Foreign Perspectives invites us to celebrate Mother Tongue Day:

Today, let's celebrate International Mother Language Day! I get to celebrate two: English, my native language, and Turkish, my adopted language. UNESCO recognized in 1999 that over 6,000 languages may disappear if we don't take active steps now to save them; thus, they created a day to encourage countries to pay attention to the languages of their nation….

As a writer and editor, I observe most every day the massacre of my own native language, English, and that of the Turkish language as well. Whether it's in the newspapers, on the television or in daily conversation, I notice how our languages are mutilated one step at a time….

Well, I do agree in some approximation that Turkish, and all world languages for that matter, should be protected because in the eight years I have lived in Istanbul, I have experienced this foreign infiltration of their harmonious language. Soon, we won't be able to communicate in Turkish with each other if we are from different generations.

So, in closing this post on International Mother Language Day, I reference the famous Turkish journalist and humorist Refik Halid Karay, noted for writing in perfect Istanbul Turkish. It was his goal to “save Turkish readers…” and likewise, it should be our goal to ensure we do our part to preserve and protect our languages by learning them well and pass that appreciation on to the generations that come after us.

Admitting to a growing knitting addiction, Idil from Metroblogging Istanbul talks about trying to find inexpensive yarn at the Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul:

You're faced with piles of yarn and a plethora of people that try to squish you while walking over you (this is part of the experience) to get to the prettiest and cheapest yarn. Everyone there is on a mission so beware! I ended up with a huge 4KG bag of yarn and a smile on my face at the end of my journey to the land of wool.

And to end our article today, reader the dilemma that the Carpetblogger must go through when she finds a jar of American Peanut Butter in Istanbul, only to find out that it is under a recall:

So, now I am faced with a dilemma. There are several factors to consider here.

* 300 people get sick in a country of 250 million. Is this just another example of Americans’ overreaction to minor threats, driven by the trial lawyers? By throwing out my peanut butter — creamy, American goodness with a red label and cheery white letters — would I not be indulging in behavior I frequently mock?

* Salmonella: Is it that bad? People continue to eat at Shwarma Number One in Baku even though “Shwarma Number One” means “rotating germs on a stick” in Azeri. How bad are a few hours of “explosions from both ends?” Don't I frequently brag about my constitution of steel? If I got sick, how would I know to blame Peter Pan rather than the greasy doner?

* Upon news of a recall, is Con-Agra evil multi-national, genetically-modifying, environment-destroying corporation cutting its losses by dumping salmonella-tainted peanut butter unfit for human consumption on the third world? Is that why Or-Ka Supermarket in Cihangir, in defiance of the laws of supply and demand, stocks Peter Pan? I cannot condone such behavior. But, I've already bought the Peter Pan. Throwing it out would be a meaningless gesture, right?

What to do. What to do.

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