I was relaxing in Kahve Dünyası (Coffee World) enjoying an Americano under the welcome shade of an enormous parasol. It can be difficult to attract the attention of the waiters there. When you do, it’s better to speak in English than poorly pronounced Turkish as the lofty boys usually feign selective deafness. However, this minor irritant is worth it for the superior brew and the only place in town where a decent croissant is to be had (in fact a croissant of any sort, come to that). The complimentary chocolate spoon on the side is a nice touch as well.
The café is a prime location to people watch. The marina side of town is almost exclusively populated by visiting Turks. This is where the well-heeled come to get well-oiled and the young come to party. I studied the steady stream of strollers; all ages and all types gently ambled by.
As I watched, I wondered if there was such a thing as a typical Turkish type, akin to an English rose, Celtic redhead or blond Swede. What hit me was the rich diversity of Turks, a veritable United Nations of a people, from ginger to dusky, European to oriental.
It was silly of me to be surprised. Anatolia has been the crossroad of civilisations for millennia – settled, abandoned, won and lost countless times. Each phase of Anatolian history has left its DNA on the population, from the recently discovered 12,000 year old settlement at Göbekli Tepe in the East to the British yabancı marrying into the fold, and everything else in between.
No nation is racially pure. History teaches us that the invasions and migrations of the past rarely replaced the existing populations entirely. Ethnic cleansing is mostly a modern invention.
When the Germanic Angles, Saxons and Jutes settled in what was to become England, they replaced the Celtic elite, killed a few, displaced some and bred with the rest. The same phenomenon occurred during the Scandinavian invasions right across the British Isles. Yes, there was a bit of raping and pillaging but much less than comic books suggest. The process has been going on ever since. The truth is, we’re all mongrels really. I was left with the impression that to be Turkish is a state of mind, not a state of body.
As I pondered this question I completely forgot about the chocolate spoon that had melted all over my saucer and around the base of my coffee cup. A concerned waiter rushed over with extra serviettes and helped me clean up the gooey brown mess. Perhaps the waiters at Kahve Dünyası aren’t so bad after all.