If you ask me, people make Turkey. Warm, garrulous and inquisitive.

An Iranian family was so excited on hearing I was from India.
“India?”
“Yes”
“We love India. What was that Indian movie we saw?”
DDLJ? My Name is Khan? 3 Idiots?
“Slumdog Millionaire’
Not Indian, my friend. Not Indian.

Ali was most excited.
“I can speak Hindi too. Aap kaise hain?”
Ali collects sand from all over the world. Egypt, Peru, Nepal, Bulgaria. Puts them in coloured little glass bottles.

Selcuk bus stop. We ran excitedly to someone distributing a sweet, brown, drippy treat.
“What’s that?”
“Lokma”
“How much is it?”
A rotund man comes running to us waving his hands.
“No, no, its free. take it, take it. It’s for my uncle’s death anniversary” pushing loads of them into our hands.

Men playing backgammon. Not a tourist trap. They gather around every evening, chatting aloud, playing their game, sipping their Raki or Cay. They invite you enthusiastically, but alas I cannot play.

Shopkeepers!

Spice Bazaar.
“How much is saffron?”
“You are Indian?”
“Yes”
“I am Shah Rukh Khan. How are you Kareena?”
My saffron came only slightly cheaper.

There was this one day when I was up at the terrace and was peering into one of the open windows below. Old man on the couch, beige sweater on, being served Cay by his wife in baggy shalwar and scarve. He looks up at me. Smiles. I half expect him to offer to sell me Kilim on the floor. Half price only for you.

Yes, it’s the people.

Originally written for Random Wanderings!