Turkey is Typing…Ramadan Edition

Ramadan is in its last week and it seems only fitting to hear from the Turkish part of the Middle East region as to their impressions of this holy month. Join us as we talk about the perils of early morning drumming, censoring food on TV, the running of the cows, and perhaps the best ice cream in the world!

In the case of any holiday time, and specifically with one a rigorous as Ramadan, there are always downsides and upsides to fasting. Expat bloggers, for one, note the frustration of the drummer that walks through the neighborhoods to wake everyone up. From Carpetblogger:

Ramazan started this morning, and when I was told that the “Ramazan Davulcusu” would walk around the neighborhoods at daybreak beating drums to wake people up in time for Sahur, the morning feast before the day of fasting, I suspected that was probably a quaint tradition that lived on villages, but not in cosmopolitan Istanbul.

Since double-sided drums are being sold at the local Carrefour, I shouldn't have been surprised when, at 4 am this morning, about five young guys walked all around the neighborhood beating their drums and singing Ramazan carols. Um, 30 days of 4 am wake up calls with drums? Sorry I'll be missing that!

And from Turkey and My Foreign Perspectives:

In Turkey and around the world, there was a time when we had no alarm clocks. Humans had to find ways to wake up in the morning to go to their fields or to work. Many waited for the sound of the rooster to crow them awake, or the church bells to chime, or the first call to prayer bellow out from the mosque.

Today, we have personal alarms to wake us up—so I thought. This morning at 3:45 a.m., I was abruptly awakened by a very loud, tinny-sounding drum in my neighborhood. I thought there was a parade coming to town. The drum was heard throughout the neighborhood for a full 15 minutes!

Since I rarely sleep through the night, I was not amused, because I don't return to slumber for at least a couple of hours. I am NOT humored by a poor drummer coming to my neighborhood to sound his drum at such an early hour of the morning.

I got another reminder this morning that I live in Turkey

Ramazan (the Turkish word for Ramadan) also brings with it and increase in food prices, traffic accidents and traffic deadlock, and the odd bit of censorship as Me and Others illustrates:

i have just finished reading a column in a newspaper. now, this columnist is asked what he thinks about a specific situation observed in tv shows. i dont really watch tv so im only rephrasing him. as you know we are in the holy month of ramadan. and in tv shows, when people are drinking, the glasses, the bottles, or whatever are blurred so that people dont see what they are drinking. and i mind you that they are not doing this auto-censor because they are sensitive about giving bad ideas to the kids who might be watching the show. they are doing it because we are in the holy month of ramadan and they want to show that they are sensitive about it.

from my point of view this is just stupid. and i think this is a peer pressure. i know how tv channels work and how they are money oriented, which also means they get as populist as it gets. so i have no little doubt that they are in such a foolish act just because they want to look like politically correct….

also, we might be in the month of ramadan in real life, but the virtual people of tv series dont have to follow our agenda. they might be enjoying the sunny beaches while it is snowing outside of our very windows. they can drink because they are not supposed to be in ramadan. or, they can be in ramadan and they can again drink, because those drinking characters might be representing those infidel secular citizens of turkish republic who have no respect for the common values of our moslem yet suppressed population. then should we blur the raki glass? and does this change the fact that they are drinking? does showing or blurring such scenes make any change in the lives of those moslems who watch the show? or perhaps, dont they juts care and they are only those money oriented media barons who come up with such stupidity? why they werent practicing such stupidness in the past but now, for the cost of our very valuable brain cells.

Ramazan is also a wonderful time too (despite the complaints), it is a time to wish others well, to tease your friends for things like including an Efes beer with your Iftar meal (the meal to break the fast at the end of the day), and times for your office to get closer with special celebrations. Bea from Turkey and My Foreign Perspectives gives a great list of things to love at Ramadan:

I love to see the homes and restaurants filled with people who are breaking bread together and for a few moments everyone greets one another in peace. We can do the same by calling a friend or a family member to ask forgiveness…

I love to see the restaurant owners send their waiters to give someone less fortunate in the street a tray of food. We need to make a special point to give something to those less fortunate….

I love it when my neighbors inquire after me because I am alone during Ramadan. Do you know someone who needs your attention?…

I love it that people have a time they commit to doing small kindnesses remembering that Ramadan is a time for doing something for their God and also for mankind. Can we think to do this all year long?

In other matters, Istanbul has been the home for some amazing pieces of art, as Talk Turkey points out:

The city I was born in is hosting the 10th annual International Istanbul Biennial, the contemporary-art festival held every odd year with “more than a hundred artists and artist collectives from three dozen countries” as reported by Peter Schjeldahl of The New Yorker. Lucy Cunningham, a critic for Bloomberg News says, “Istanbul was voted as 2010 European Capital of Culture in part because of the biennial.” No matter what the event, or the eventual excuse, I will always have a special place in my heart for Istanbul, even though as Orhan Pamuk confesses, “the new and opulent Istanbul of today is not the melancholy city I knew as a boy.”

New York Muhtari has scores of photos of Istanbul this season, including many of the cow parade placed around the city for the Biennial.

We end today with some information about Turkish ice cream, an acquired taste to be sure, but ice cream that doesn't melt has its perks. The Thinking Blog explains:

Two features distinguish Turkish ice cream: texture and resistance to melting. It is much tougher and chewier than that of the ice cream used in sundaes, gelato or commercially produced ice cream. The unusual texture is produced by the use of salep (a flour made from dried orchid tubers) and mastic resin as thickening agents, together with other flavorings. It is sometimes sold from carts as street food, where the mixture is churned regularly with long-handled paddles to keep it workable.

Be sure to visit the post for links to video to see how it is made and treated. The Carpetblogger however isn't as favorable to this unique Turkish desert:

Dondurma is ice cream made with salep (flour made from an orchid tubers) and mastic, which makes it taste like a cold, sugary tire. Personally, I can't stand it, but Turks go nuts over it. Generally, I like hot salep (a warm drink made in winter that cures every ailment) and mastic makes Turkish puddings nice and gummy, but the two together in ice don't work for me.

The vendors on Istiklal do raging business, stretching it and whacking away at it with metal poles and playing tricks on little kids.

That's all for this week, to those in Turkey celebrating…. Iyi Bayramlar!


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.