Saturday, April 18, 2009

Letter to my Parents – September 1991

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.


September 1991


  1. A very emotional letter....

    I think the story you tell at the end is true for small towns or villages where everybody knows everybody... But in big cities or huge metropolis, it is wishful thinking or a fleeting dream.... This is true for Turkey and any other country in the world....

  2. I can't figure it out actually. It either shows how things have changed in Turkey. I wrote it in 1991 or it show how much my view has changed! Thanks so much for the comments. By the way, the second issue of my Nomadic View Magazine will be ready soon, I hope you will get a chance to look it over. If nothing else, I can promise it is looking much better than the first issue.

  3. It is a lovely and heartwarming letter to your parents.

    How things have changed in Turkey and the rest of the world. Honestly I have heard of people going to the mosque to pray and when the session is over they come out to find that their shoes have been stolen.

    Personally I do not want to live in a society where there are rules, as such. I want to live in a society where people have a conscious and a heart, who know what is right without having to be told.

    There is good and bad in all countries. But in our minds the era of our past always seemed a lot simpler.

    Just to let you know when we go for a drive to the country side, in Australia. Farmers sometimes leave bags of fruits on trolleys in front of their farms. There is a price on each bag. Those wishing to buy take a bag and leave money in the tin. I have also seen one farmer selling honey on trolleys outside his farm.

    I also find it interesting how our opinions change as we get older.


Always great to hear from visitors to Nomadic View. What's on your mind?


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