Tut, tut bide lek tut,” translated by the 8 year old Turkish girl as, “give, give me your heart,” later to be revealed by her parents as actually meaning, “make, make a wish.” It’s sort of close?
If you didn’t know, I am currently in Turkey. I have been here since May 29th (minus quick trips to Zurich and Frankfurt), which is about one and a half months, 49 days to be exact. I’ve spent most of my time in Ankara, about 5 days in Istanbul, and explored Pamukkale, the tomb of King Midas, Ephesus, Selçuk, the house of Mary (yes, Jesus’ mama), and am currently in Kuşadası. Today I went to a historical village from the 5th century, called Şirince, where the shop that made all of the jewelry for the movie Troy resides and the villagers produce wine from every fruit known to man. The şeftali (peach) wine is amazing.
As the Turkish landscape has slowly unfolded in front of me, so too has the media culture. Turkish music is actually quite to my liking beyond the traditional sounds I already knew I would enjoy, like Turkish Opera. It’s true that I don’t understand a word they are saying, but neither does the eight year old girl I teach English to when she breaks out into an accented rendition of LMFAO’s, “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” and that doesn’t stop her!
I’m really “working” hard to immerse myself in the Turkish lifestyle, which actually does contain drastic, visible differences from the U.S./Canada unlike, in my opinion, most of Western Europe. Sure, Western Europe has its “things” – smaller portions, siestas, no screens on their windows, older buildings, late dinners, espresso, blah, blah, blah – but the bottom line is that when you turn on the TV or walk into a store, you see American sitcoms and hear Katy Perry or Rihanna singing about California or repeating the word “Cake” over and over again. Of course Turkey has its fair share of American movies and musical imports, but they also have an incredible range of popular and traditional music that is distinctly Turkish. These Turkish pop stars have developed followings that extend outside of the country borders and into places like the Balkans and some parts of Asia, a.k.a. people who come to the Turkish seaside (where I am now) to vacation.
But alas, despite my most ardent efforts to embrace the culture of the Middle East/Eurasia, I find that my favorite Turkish singer doesn’t much resemble a Turk. In fact, one of her music videos was declared too obscene for TV air by the State Watchdog and banned. Hello Turkish Madonna? I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or in this case, you can’t change an old dog’s preferences; damn you ever unyielding socialization! Ironically, I am intrigued by Gülşen (pronounced Gulshen) for her ability to defy the exact culture I am trying to understand via being more like the Western world. Contradiction and the inescapable American ethnocentrism are rearing their ugly heads at me as I write this. Luckily, I also like her on a far more superficial level: she is lovely, wearing adorable 50’s inspired whites, and has amazing teeth. Her song, “Yeni Biri,” is catchy too; I watched the music video on repeat during my bus ride from Istanbul to Ankara (which is partly a result of not being able to watch the regular movies available since they were all in Turkish).
Let me know if the video is “not available in your country” and enjoy her dazzling smile! So straight…so white…sigh.