Following tradition I am ill once again during my stay in Turkey. This time at least it’s not a stomach bug; I just seem to have caught a bad cold (in this heat!). Still, this hasn’t prevented me from experiencing the better things of life. I am back in Istanbul again and attended a nice Jummah prayer in an ancient mosque over looking the Bosphorus, followed by Maghrib in Taksim. Both times the Qur’an was beautiful; both times I looked around to see young people in the congregation. It is nice to be back in civilised company.
Yesterday we spent the day in the company of a Professor of International Relations and his family. He is a specialist in Turkey-EU relations, Democratisation and Human Rights – and proved interesting company. Then we spent the evening in a luxurious neighbourhood with my wife’s best friend and her family – who happened to include a Chief Advisor to the Turkish Prime Minister. All of these people were Muslims, but more than this, they were intelligent – people you could hold a sustained conversation with. No generalisations and cliches. It was a pleasing change.
The assault on the senses wrought by hours of football on Turkish TV every night and dull broken-record conversations covering the same ground again and again and again start to take their toll on you after a while. A change of environment is most welcome.