my Turkish travels, all other variables were removed.
I was traveling without male comrades; my
companions were the same two lovely ladies as in Egypt.
We smiled the same at any passers-by. We did
little to attract any additional attention that three smiling,
foreign women did not already invite. The
only changing quality was geography.
were to lure us to merchants’ wares, and the offers of a chatty cup of
usually resulted in a marriage proposal (total: 8).
The lines thrown at us were all sexual in
nature – Egyptian men good lovers! Or, Money,
Money? I suck you
well! And endless others. The ill
intentions may not have been there
(and were proven to be false by some), but on the mere surface value of
low uncertainty avoidance, the assortment of Egyptian men we
the same anatomy-based objectives.
We were warned of
the saucy audacity of the Turkish chaps – promised to be more severe than Egypt. Once on Turkish turf, however, the story
played out quite differently. The
whistles still chased us, and the weight of the piercing gazes lingered
after passing by shops and vendors. But
the men that approached us came under the terms of education and pure
friendship. Am I being too naïve? Two men caught our attention on a busy street
in Taksim Square. For the next five minutes one of the men
nervously stammered his way in English through the introduction,
statements, rebuttal, and conclusion to why we should share a cup of
him before we could get a word in edgewise. Some
of the key points of said speech:
They wanted to exchange cultures – music,
stories, food, politics, and ideas.
They longed for English conversation.
They were university students and really
They promised to take us to a crowded public
café, and we could leave if we felt uncomfortable.
They wanted to hear of our preconceived
and its people, and learn of our current feelings.
How could we say no?
These two men were not
ones that approached us this way. We
exchanged emails with so many people simply to continue the
dialogue. All experiences turned into
beautiful connections and enlightening conversation. Safe and
geography change our interactions so distinctively? Only an
in-depth (this is a mere skiff),
multi-sited ethnographic focus could derive an answer. This
contemporary form of study is elucidated
in George E. Marcus’s article, “Ethnography in/of the World
System: The Emergences
of Multi-Sited Ethnography” in
which he proclaims the importance of its “unusual trajectories” within
ever-changing and inter-connected globe.
“It develops a strategy or design of research that acknowledges
macrotheoretical concepts and narratives of the world system but does
on them for the contextual architecture framing a set of
subjects.” The parameters to my Egyptian-Turkish
equation were constant. I am not saying
that the Egyptian ethos has instinctive and impure intentions; perhaps
experience was rare. I am also not
trying to claim due to their hesitant approach and higher uncertainty
that all Turkish men want English/American women purely for legitimate
educational purposes. But comparatively,
I discovered yet another traveling anomaly that will need much more
exploration to be understood.