Europe according to Turks: Turkish point of view to European countries :)))

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Sometimes funny, sometimes helpful, sometimes annoying, we face negative or positive stereotypes- or make them- every day. For travellers away from home, it is not uncommon to encounter the stereotypes, the assumptions, and the single story approaches about topics around our nationalities or countries. Where there are stereotypes, I find, you will also find those well-traveled, international sorts busy justifying, educating, and preaching to break the stereotypes they hear,  or, carefully become stereo-typer in to their own range of.. ahem… classifications! :)

Recep (Ray-jep) has a unique vibe and blended personality. I haven’t seen anyone able to handle stereotypes as well and as fun a way as he does. He considers most people “learners”, and I witnessed how he handles stereotypes for Turks without disapproval or discomfort, provocation or over-explanation. He manages to both convey his message and entertain anyone around him. I realize in some contexts  he ironically reverse-stereotypes with his humorous and fun approach.
Without further ado, here are Recep Duzakar`s  “7 stereotypes of Turks abroad” and his insightful comments about each of them:

1. Shis Kebab: All-time favorite icebreaker topic of foreigner to Turk. Since it is common, most Turks feel overwhelmed with this and when it pops up in a conversation we just grin and bear it. Usually it comes from people who enjoy kebabs rather a lot, and who often have very good relations with their local Kebab shops. However, the common belief appears to be that Turks eat kebabs for all three meals and they cook them at home. We would all agree that we our mothers would never allow that huge giant spinning kebab machine in our kitchens- at least not permanently.
2. Belly Dancing :  A nice exotic, light-hearted topic. Some think Turks employ belly dancers for all parties and every occasion. Even in Turkey, belly dancing remains a popular form of extra-ordinary touristic entertainment. We get to see belly dancers when we are on holidays or on TV morning shows.
3. Apple tea: Unfortunately the biggest scam ever. The bad news is no one really drinks apple tea in Turkey. It is in fact a cost- efficient (read cheap) apple-flavoured, hot sugary drink often exclusively served to tourists visiting carpet and jewelry stores. We have a saying in Turkey: `Free vinegar is sweeter than honey.` In a culture that prizes its tea, this sums up apple tea pretty well.
4. Midnight Express:  A movie about an American journalist sentenced to 30 years in prison for smuggling drugs into Turkey (1978). This one-track glimpse into Turkey of the 1970s is an archaic stereotype born from people who wanted to challenge foreigners intellectually and politically/socially on their understanding of Turkey. Among many critical misunderstandings of the Turkey of 2014, this film perpetuates stereotypes of more simple circumstances. For example, most every male character smokes in the movie. No surprise that Turkish guys have reputations for being chain-smoking machos.
5. Turkey like the bird?: The most naive and genuine stereotype ever. It comes from the people who want to bring light-hearted humour or from people that actually don’t even know there is a country called `Turkey.`  For obvious reasons they associate the animal with its origin in the country Turkey. As it turns out, barely anyone eats turkey in Turkey, and the most common genus is found in North America, on dining tables, at Thanksgiving.
6. Religion Effect: The majority of people in Turkey are Muslim so the language must be Arabic, the country must be on the Arabic peninsula, where it is summer all year round and the main form of transportation is camels. Always camels. More than the desert comment. More than hookah or nargile…camels. So tour companies got wise and imported camels to Turkey and the myth lives on via camels you see have lived long lives of short rides in tourist destinations. Headscarves are often tied into this package too. Turkish girls are often asked if they wear a headscarf back in Turkey. In Turkey the headscarf remains a matter of freedom of choice and some girls have, and some not, but the stereotype that females MUST or that it is COMPULSORY to wear headscarves in Turkey is a myth. If they are not wearing a headscarf abroad, this does not mean they wear it in Turkey. I guess the stereotype comes from watching too much mainstream TV and is often misleading.
7. Turkish Delight: One thing that is our trademark. Sadly, we lost the battle over baklava. If you were to travel abroad you can find eclectic forms of this dessert and all in different forms. I guess this makes a good icebreaker and starter for a conversation. The Turkish Delight “compliment” especially works on some girls, but then again some Turkish girls do not like it.  All sugar no substance is never a good thing, in Turkish Delight or elsewhere.

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