I wrote this letter to my parents about a week after I arrived in Turkey. It was in fact the first letter I wrote after I decided to stay. I was attempting to explain my reasons. Is it still true? I am not so sure, some things have changed here perhaps. I was living in a small town back then and maybe that was a factor. I don't know. Anyway, here is a copy of the original.
Dear Mother and Dad,
It was good to hear your voice when I called and really, your reaction to my news made me so proud. Everyone could clearly see on my face how happy you made me. The decision to stay here was a difficult one to make as you can understand, and it took a lot of time and thinking to be sure. There were many things to consider.
But sometimes, I believe, it is impossible to realize how unhappy you are until you something, some other life, to compare. When I came to Turkey, it was obvious to me.
As I told you on the phone, all the rules you taught me since I was a child- the rules of social conduct- just didn't seem to work out so well for me. They always seemed a bit impractical and naive, given all I had seen, felt and done.
But I firmly believe that your rule are correct. I mean, maybe people should behave that way, but I couldn't find so many that actually did. People I met and knew, usually found it easier to behave in a way, not exactly bad but without any sort of rule whatsoever. Certainly living like that, following rules is a way that the world no longer seems to recognize. I always seemed about to lose hope or to join in with that way of thinking.
But somehow I never quite surrendered that faith you taught me. You have seen the pain I went through over the years. I never really knew how much you gave me and how much I learned from you until I began to travel. Those rules you ingrained in me work so much better here. They seemed to be practiced as a matter of course. You can observe them in daily action in Turkey.
Not long after I arrived here, I was told a story along these lines. It's supposed to be true and it sounds plausible enough. There was a fruit seller on the street. While he was working, he heard the call for prayer and since the mosque was nearby, he left his station and went to pray. Meanwhile, in his absence, the customers came and went. The man was kept longer than he had anticipated and when he finally returned, there was pile of kurus near the fruit from each customer.
This sort of thing would be unbelievable nowadays in the USA. But I have seen things like this in Turkey. The rules of behavior- the most important lessons any parent can teach their children- are old-fashioned where I came from. They have vanished but they somehow remain here for the moment in Turkey.