Thursday, October 9, 2008

All Politics is Local


My intensive Turkish language class is tough but fun. I’ve learned much in just two days but my jet lag kicks in during the fourth hour when I become worthless.

Just when I thought I had traveled far enough from home to leave behind the last several weeks of the presidential debates and the economic capriciousness, I met Engin. En route to the tram that takes me to Taksim Square, where the Tomer Language School, is, I have had the pleasure of visiting with this local rug artisan who refashions pieces of Oriental carpets and kilims into hand and travel bags. He has invited me to join him for tea to practice Turkish and I plan to take him up on his offer. Meanwhile, this is what he said to me when I ducked in to ask him where I could buy a fan for my room.

"For electrical appliances you must go to a part of town called Karakoy. It is like Wall Street in New York, with lots of banks. Only they have money."

I grinned. "Can you believe the mess the U.S. is in?"

"They are all stupid. It’s all about getting people in debt," Engin says, putting down his leather tools so that he can gesticulate better with his hands. "They spend 500, even 5,000 on a dinner in New York and yet people elsewhere feel lucky to have bread. Stupid! But there are people like them here in Turkey, too. Everywhere."

When I visit Engin again, I will ask him how he would deal with the Wall Street debacle and who he would like to see become the next president of the United States. Perhaps after that, I’ll leave politics behind...


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