Spending 400,000 Turkish Liras in a couple of hours

Spending 400,000 Turkish Liras in a couple of hours

BELGİN AKALTAN - belgin.akaltan@hdn.com.tr
Spending 400,000 Turkish Liras in a couple of hours Today is Bayram; it is the first day of the Feast of Sacrifice. It is a religious holiday and it is a big deal. Not many people are religious in Turkey, especially urban people, but religious holidays are more of a social thing than a religious one. Yes, this is correct, though contrary to what you read or have been told. This country has tasted the sweet freedom of secularism and it will be very, very, very hard to take it back to a medieval order of shaping and interpreting religious values in only one way – no matter what the new American plan foresees…

I am repeating; we are not a religious people, despite the fact political Islamists are in power today. Putting headscarves on the heads of 10-year-old kids has nothing to do with freedom and it is against the values of most Turkish people. Note my words, the measure will be revoked. This change in the school dress code will be canceled sooner than you expect. It is wrong. It is the imposition of a Middle-Eastern lifestyle which does not suit our country, which I believe is far from being a Middle Eastern one, even though we have similarities. But we also have Mediterranean, Balkan, Black Sea, Aegean, Caucasian, Mesopotamian and the good-old Anatolian civilizations molded in one pot; and nobody can make us into a one-type society. Geography, history, sociology, ethnography, globalization, economy will not allow it. We, Turkish women, will not allow it. 

Ooops, my theme was a light one today. Here is my theme: How can you spend 400,000 Turkish Liras, roughly equivalent to $182,000 or 142,000 euros, in a couple of hours buying clothes? I’m trying to wrap my head around it.

With this much money you could buy a nice house or a semi-posh apartment in a nice district in Istanbul today. Or you could buy two normal apartments of medium size. You could barely save that much money all your life if you are an average journalist, let’s say. That’s all you could save, if you could, in a couple of decades.

I don’t know what you could do with this money in European or American cities, but I don’t think I have seen 400,000 liras in one place in my life. I don’t think I have spent more than 400 liras for clothes in one go at all either.

Anyway, the story is that a Turkish singer, whose name I need not write here, spent 400,000 liras in a couple of hours at an international brand’s Istanbul branch store last week. I do not want to write her name because her husband’s men beat people up on the streets and on the piers of coastal towns.

Yes, Turkey is such a country these days and I am trying to reflect these “street facts” of Istanbul to my readers abroad, or those who are locked in their offices, residences, embassies or schools. 

Another street fact of Istanbul these days: The city stinks nowadays; you know, much more than the usual amount. It is because of animals brought in from other places which are being kept in horrible, makeshift farm-like or animal shelter-like places that generate a perfumed aroma. Those places make the whole neighborhood smell like sheep sh*t. Oh, what a wonderful smell that is. It reminds me of my rural roots. Well, not exactly; I am lying. I don’t have rural roots, and I hate this smell. I don’t know how long it will take for us to set urban rules so that facilitating one segment of society to practice their religious rituals does not mean that the other segments suffer in their daily lives for two or three weeks or that they are forced to live with the stench of animal sh*t for more than they can endure.

Yes, back to this singer whose husband was involved in the bribery and corruption scandal, only to be released from prison so that he is now free to walk around. Well, when people see them, a reaction occurs. When university students on a boat tour saw them on their luxury yacht, they shouted, “Thief!” His men then beat up the students when they disembarked. There was another incident in Istanbul when some attackers tried to smash his windshield. Also, another similar thief-calling incident happened again in an Istanbul restaurant.

Well, when somebody shouts, “Thief!” my first reaction would be to look around. I mean if you take it personally that you are a thief, what does that show?

Well, I do not want to name the singer and her husband because at these times in Turkey, you better not mess with pro-government people, because they may use violence against you. This is the situation in our magnificent and lonely country at this time of history.

One reader called Ayesha, she must be a foreigner, congratulated me for being off Erdoğan. She suggested it was better for me to do this. Yes, Ayesha, that was my pure, free choice. As you suggested, it is better for my sanity to steer clear of politics.

And also this is exactly the kind of Turkey the government wants. They want happy people, not criticizing the government, writing about their travels, the smell in the city, the wonders of bayram, the happiness of religious holidays, singers and how they spend their money… 

Happy bayram folks, I will spend it happily, no matter what…