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Friday, 01 May 2015

Konya: Guidebooks Don’t Quite Capture This Turkish City - Page 3

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By the time we were back outside, the heat was kicking in. We stopped briefly at a street café for something to drink—in my case, a small bottle of carbonated olive juice that even I, who’ll happily eat anything, could barely choke down—then headed downtown, skirting the central bazaar, passing windows full of manikins attired in the full-length raincoats that observant women here wore even in the stifling heat of summer. As we entered downtown we kept our eyes open for a bus company office, hoping to buy tickets to the coast for the following morning. The day before, we’d seen bus offices all over the place. Now we couldn’t find any. Finally, we gave up and went into a travel agency. 

The middle-aged manager walked over and greeted us with a smile: “Bonjour, monsieur,” he said. I scrambled to dredge up some of my dormant high school French to communicate what we wanted: “Uh … autobus billets pour... uh, uh … hier!” He chuckled, amused, probably, at this silly American who, it dawned on me later, had announced he was looking for bus tickets for ‘yesterday.’ The manager summoned his young assistant, who took us to a Ulusoy bus office down the street, explained our needs to the clerk, and got us our tickets. We thanked him profusely. He beamed, clearly pleased to have helped.

The next morning, while we waited for the minibus that would drop us near the central bus terminal, I noticed across the street a middle-aged man herding his family along toward the Mevlana Museum. He was wearing the calf-length pants popular with men from northern Europe. They were the only people I’d seen in Konya who looked like Westerners.

The bus came, and my wife and I climbed on. I gave the driver the standard four Turkish-lira fare, and we maneuvered our packs along the cramped aisle. Near the back, a stout young man in blue jeans jumped up and moved to the seat in front of him so my wife and I could sit together.

As we bounced along, we passed warehouses, mosques, and workingmen’s cafes like the ones I’d seen on our way into town. No doubt about it: except for some impressive mosques and the Mevlana Museum, the Konya I’d seen hadn’t been much to look at. But, of course, what made the place special wasn’t the architecture, anyway.

A few minutes later, as I sat there chatting with my wife, I saw the bus driver’s assistant making his way down the aisle toward us. He stopped and handed me some coins. I was surprised for a moment—I didn’t know I had change coming—but I probably shouldn’t have been. It wasn’t like it was the first time someone had gone out of his way for us in Konya.


(c)Paul Michelson


(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Thursday, 02 July 2015

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