Posts Tagged ‘Arzu Tutuk’

Nobody ever loses a wallet in Turkey. It always gets returned

April 17, 2012


I’ve visited Turkey eleven times, and always return in awe of the honesty of Turks. I’ve written here about the lengths Enver Beyazyuz went to in order to return my wallet, which he had found in the men’s room at an Istanbul Starbucks. And here, about the Gaziantep cab driver who trusted us to call him for a return trip so we could pay him after he had been unable to change the TL 20 bill (about $12) I had offered.

On my latest visit my daughter, Susan Le, was lingering over breakfast coffee when Johann, a fellow guest at our hotel in Cappadocia (the Esbelli Ev—visit Cappadocia and stay there if you can!) sadly recounted how he had lost his wallet, stuffed with IDs and credit cards, at the huge Goreme Open Air Museum (photo).

“No problem,” Sue replied cheerfully. “Nobody ever loses a wallet in Turkey. It always gets returned. Tell Atıl (our guide, Atıl Cuce of Middle Earth Travel, hire him when you visit Cappadocia), he’ll know what to do.”

Two minutes later Atılhung up the phone. “They have your wallet.”

My friend Arzu Tutuk (best guide in Istanbul, hire her when you go there) says if you lose your mobile phone in Turkey the finder will first refill with additional minutes, then track you down and return it. I wouldn’t be surprised.



Istanbulite Arzu Tutuk explains the issues of the Kurds in Turkey and the PKK

October 26, 2011

I wrote last week about the deaths of 24 Turkish soldiers at the hands of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers party, and included a short poetic summary of the conflict by my friend Arzu Tutuk, a Turk from Istanbul.

The conflict is important to America because it threatens the peace of Turkey, the most important Muslim ally of the United States. The campaign is creating a wedge issue that can poison relations between Turkey and all her neighbors as well as between Turkey and the rest of NATO.

 I invited Arzu to expand on her thoughts about the conflict. Here they are: 

For most of the Turkish people, it is difficult to face the truth. There is a PKK issue in Turkey. PKK is a terrorist organization. There’s also a Kurdish problem in Turkey. It’s another issue, but not totally different.

I have many Kurdish friends who live in Istanbul. They went to good schools, got a good education, have proper jobs and great families. They grew up in families where the mother only spoke Kurdish. They did not hear a word of Turkish until primary school. At primary school it is forbidden to speak any other language (more…)

Kurdish terrorists kill 24 Turkish soldiers near Iraqi border. Why?

October 21, 2011

The terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) killed 24 Turkish soldiers and wounded 18 Wednesday in simultaneous attacks in Hakkari province, southeastern Turkey, 1,200 miles from Istanbul.

This attack is the most serious in years, in a battle that’s been on and off since 1984. The violence has been confined to remote areas near the border with Iraq, where the PKK takes sanctuary. Areas favored by western tourists and travelers have been free of violence.

Turkey has a population of 79 million, of whom about 14 million are Kurds, a largely Sunni Muslim people with their own language and culture, which Turkish governments have feared and repressed for decades.

Why should Americans care about this? Because the violence threatens the peace of Turkey, a friend of the United States, a member of NATO, and the Middle East’s only functioning democracy, a secular one at that. And because most Americans who have visited Turkey, especially including me, have fallen in love with the country and with its people.

The roots of the conflict are many and I thought, hard to follow, until my friend Arzu Tutuk, who makes a living showing Westerners the wonderful attractions of Istanbul and other parts of Turkey, clarified it in this crisp and poetic fashion:

Remember how happy we were when the Kurds elected members in the Parliament back in June?

Erdogan’s party did everything they could to not admit these members.

Some are in prison.

What do these people want? Broadcast in Kurdish, name their kids Kurdish names (more…)

Turks trust strangers, and the trust is repaid

March 20, 2011

I’ve written here about the remarkable honesty of—seemingly everybody—in Turkey. I got another example two days ago when our taksi stopped at our chosen restaurant in Gaziantep. The meter showed TL 7—about $4.00. Our friend Arzu Tutuk handed the driver a TL20 note. “Sorry, no change,” he said (in Turkish). “Here’s my card, just call me when you’ve finished dinner and I’ll take you back to your hotel. We can settle then.”

And so we did. After a sumptuous dinner at Imam Cağdas Arzu called the driver, he picked us up within two minutes, and she settled the bill for the round trip.

What’s remarkable about this story? The cab driver trusted a total stranger to go out of her way to pay him, when she could have stiffed him with impunity. It never occurred to the driver or to Arzu that the trust could be broken.

Hooray—again—for Turkish honesty.