Test yourself: Are you a true Aegean hedonist?
Nazlan Ertan - firstname.lastname@example.org
DHA photo“That’s it. I’m coming back to İzmir to settle here and nothing you say or write will dissuade me,” said a friend after I wrote that “white Turks” should think twice before settling in İzmir. “Besides, shame on you for trying to stop us as you flaunt your new-found Aegean hedonism with selfies in vineyards, beaches, sails, luncheons with girls and exhibitions on your Facebook account.”
Ah, only if our lives were as glorious as they appear on Facebook (or, as columnist Gülse Birsel puts it, our skins as translucent as they appear in Instagram photos). Nonetheless, I was intrigued by the term “Aegean hedonist” – particularly because it came from a former İzmir girl who spent the last three decades living a Spartan lifestyle imposed by a 24/7 international job.
So I started asking around to local experts about just what makes a true “Aegean hedonist.” Here is the result, a quick 13-point questionnaire to determine whether you are suited to become one.
1. If you could live anywhere you like, where would you live?
a) New York (0 points. Subtract 5 points if you’ve said Istanbul, Paris, London and any other cosmopolis. If you’ve said Ankara, Washington, Brussels or any city that does not have a sea coast, don’t bother taking the rest of the test.)
b) The Greek islands (5 points)
c) Why, İzmir, of course (10 points)
2. How do you deal with Monday syndrome?
a) Arrive at work early to get a start on what I missed during the weekend, picking up coffee along the way (0 points)
b) Sing along with the singer Sıla as I drive to work at around 11 (5 points)
c) Post “Monday Lisa” photo on instagram to my friends who are at the office, poor devils (10 points)
3. You are at the opening of an exhibition at the Arkas Arts Center on a Friday evening. Lucien Arkas and the French ambassador are standing at the entrance. Who do you say hello to first?
a) Ambassador, of course. Isn’t that the right protocol? (0 points)
b) “Ah, there’s Lucien Arkas. Who’s the guy next to him?” (5 points)
c) An opening on a Friday evening? You’ve got to be kidding. I already left for Çeşme around noon. (10 points)
4. You’ve landed a job as the high-level executive of an international company. How often do you play the rookie?
a) Never. I owe it to my team to be accessible 7/24 (subtract 10 points)
b) Up to three days a week – isn’t that what conferences, colloquiums and meetings outside the office are for? (5 points)
c) Why would I even consider being in a corporate atmosphere? (10 points)
5. Can you count the vineyards around İzmir?
a) Yes, there are around half a dozen (0 points)
b) Are you asking about the ones on the Urla vineyard route or the Kuşadası-Aydın route? (5 points)
c) Are we here to drink or have a pop quiz? (10 points)
6. Where do you get your fruit and vegetables?
a) Nation-wide supermarket chains (0 points)
b) Local supermarket chains and open bazaar (5 points)
c) We get everything from İpek hanım’s organic farm, which we visited earlier this year
7a. For a man in his 30s: “You want to get together in July for dinner in town?”
a) Yes, but it would have to be a weekday, we are at our summer house Friday-Monday (0 points)
b) Sure, but it would have to be man to man. My wife will be in Çeşme for the whole summer with the kids (5 points)
c) No sorry, we’ll be on our boat the whole summer (10 points)
7b. For a woman in her 30s: “What does your best friend do?”
a) Civil servant or manager in a multinational (0 points)
b) Member of the board in a family company or head of a pressure group/NGO/sports club/federation (5 points)
c) Blogger on design, fashion, health and art of living – gives yoga lessons, too (10 points)
8) Those people who criticize İzmir for being slow and provincial…
a) May have a point (0 points)
b) Probably have some past grudge against the city (5 points)
c) Are not our sort of people and should just leave the city (10 points – add five if you roll your eyes as you say it)
9) The first thing that comes to mind when we say Churchill…
a) Sykes-Picot (0 points)
b) Cigars (5 points)
c) A drink made up of soda, lemon juice and salt (10 points – add 20 more points if you know the Karşıyaka bartender who invented the drink)
10) You take your travel tips from...
a) The Financial Times’ “How to Spend it” or Tyler Brûlé (0 points – subtract 10 points if you know who Tyler Brûlé is)
b) Ayhan Sicimoğlu (5 points)
c) Nedim Atilla (10 points – subtract 20 points if you don’t know him)
11) Your hair is…
a) Chestnut or darker (0 points)
b) Chestnut with blonde highlights (5 points – add another 5 points for effort if you had it highlighted after you moved to İzmir)
c) Blonde since the age of 16 (10 points, add another 5 points if it is in long tresses)
12) Your son decides to get married. What is your biggest criticism against your potential daughter-in-law?
a) She’s been around the block (subtract 20 points – İzmirians do not have this double standard on sexual experience)
b) She is a workaholic who will eventually insist on moving to Istanbul (5 points)
c) She has fat ankles (10 points)
13) Your claim to fame is…
a) When the PM comes here, he always comes to my house (0 points)
b) I established a company and sold it to the Brits/Americans for a neat sum (5 points)
c) I can always get a table at Deniz and Yengeç restaurants (10 points)
Do we really need to rate it? OK, here then:
10 points or lower: Stay where you are. Come to İzmir on one of your rare holidays if you must.
10-80 points: You are Aegean alright, but not yet totally hedonistic. You are either a recent comer to İzmir who is not fully integrated, an İzmirian who is pushed by economic necessity to work hard despite his/her natural temperament or an İzmir-born person who has chosen to escape Aegean hedonism but dreams of coming back at retirement. There is hope for you yet to achieve full hedonism – keep your eyes on local habits/celebrities/status symbols, not on work.
80 points and above: Shame on you for posing as someone who wants to move to İzmir. You are a true native…