Kinetic Honda, Pizza hut and Turkey

When I set out for a stint in Turkey in 1995, I recall older relatives from Pallavur who asked, Turkey, is that not in Persia? Your grandfather was fighting Turks in Mesopotomia in the British army, did you know that? Are they not a barbaric lot? And the such..

The Turks have a hazy view of India too. Why not, there are very few Indians living in Turkey, the Turks hardly speak English, and there are probably no Turks living in India. Now and then a few Turks visit India for medical or other obscure reasons. They remember India – Hindistan, from lessons in their school days of Turkish ancestors who once ruled India (Babur is considered a Turk, you see). They mention Urduca or the Urdu language (actually a mix of Turkish, Hindia, Arabic and Farsi – developed by the Mughals as a language for the multinational mogul military – Urdu went on to become a poet’s language!!). Of course they had also heard of modern India as a place with abject poverty and very intelligent computer specialists. Some even asked me why India was allowing Hindu-Muslim hatred (Turkey even though 99% Muslim and heavily leaning towards world Islamic unity, is in reality a secular country).

They had a Prime minister -
Bulent Ecevit who learnt Bengali and Sanskrit to translate Tagore’s Geetanjali to Turkish and who stated of being guided by passages of the Bhagavad Gita when faced with many a difficult decision in his life such as invading Cyprus. This stanza from Lord Krishna guided him, it seems: If one was morally right, one should not hesitate to fight injustice against the mighty, and even against the near and dear ones! (The interesting part is – when Ecevit was quoting this, India who was aligned with Greece was actually denouncing Ecevit & Turkey!!).

Keep all that aside, it is all-good for journalists, what actual Indian contribution do you see out there in Istanbul? I can think of one small thing. You go to any Pizza hut; the delivery boys zip around town on red Kinetic Honda’s. I have seen them do all kinds of stunts on it, Turks love driving and speeding. I asked one what he thought about this nice scooter from India. He said ‘ever so dependable’, but that he had believed all the time that it was from Japan. ‘Do they make automobiles in India?’ He asks incredously. But they are curious and ask all kinds of questions about India; they always steer conversation to the one ‘Hintli’ person and one song they know. Raj Kapoor and Awara. To prove it they always sing a couple of lines…and I smile..

Turkey is an interesting country; but it has its faults too. I met some very nice people there and have many a memoir of the times spent at Istanbul, a city that straddles two continents.

Picture courtsey - Istanbulcityguide


Anonymous said…
If you investigate Babur's memories, you can easily understand it in which language is written.
Anonymous said…
If you investigate and read Babur's memories, you can easily understand that in which language is written (maybe,you haven't got enough time, let me say to you: Turkish)
flowergirl said…
I enjoyed your Turkey posts. Chanced upon them via the mysoreblogpark link.

We visited Istanbul last summer, and the India connection we saw on the first day was Tataindica cars!! And then of course there was "Indian saffron" - turmeric in the markets.

The locals seem more familiar with Indians now, and we did see a lot of indian tourists.

It was a lovely visit for us. Have written about it...
harimohan said…
about to leave to istanbul i cud finally read ur turkey posts