Text and photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel
As an Indian it is incredibly easy to quickly feel at home in Turkey.
The toasty, sunny -- but not too sweaty hot -- climate welcomes you. As does the beautiful landscape. And the dazzling, dancing cerulean blue Mediterranean.
Even more welcoming is the special warmth of the Turkish people. Like Indians they are full of a friendly curiosity for the guests visiting their country. Mixed in is lots of sincere hospitality. They happily lack any stiff formality and have a wonderful chalta hai, relaxed attitude. Especially endearing is their tenderness for kids.
The dollar/ rupee does quite decently in Turkey and there is much to buy that would appeal to Indian tastes -- carpets, gold jewellery, glass Chai sets, hookahs, spices. Stuff that has been bargained for in the same vigour you would employ in an Indian bazaar.
And I have never been to any other country in the world (apart from India) where as a vegetarian I could dine like a king. About 60 to 70 percent of the menu at an average Turkish restaurant is vegetarian -- a bewildering array of Mezze or delicately, lightly spiced vegetarian starters, cheese Nans, potato fry, pasta and ravioli and their special Pide, a warm, cheesy, tomato-less pizza infused with eggplant, potato and more.
Turkey seems to have just the right mix of Westernity/ modernness and Eastern and Oriental vibes -- things work and the country is plenty functional but yet Turkey has a great soul you will discover shortly after arrival. Just listen to a track of Turkish music – soulful, emotional, heart-stirring stuff and you are almost 80 percent won over. A few more days spent in Turkey you feel that perhaps you could put down roots there and spend the rest of your days in this lovely land.
To enjoy the breadth of Turkey's charms you need to overcome the lure of magical Istanbul and make a plan to travel to the beautiful southern Mediterranean coast. Central Turkey offers the ancient Anatolian town of Ephesus and Pamukkale famous for its hot springs and eastern Turkey is Asian Turkey and an altogether different flavour.
Also see: The allure of the Andamans
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