Jun 25, 2015

Turkish Diaries: Part 1

The cricket in the kitchen chirped away to a still screen of Gabriel Macht holding a file, frozen on the television. My wife looked at the watch and told me to book the cab.

It was time.

We had been planning to go on a trip to Turkey for eons. It took a wedding, a small session at a pub nearby and several jealousy-inducing pictures on facebook for us to finally take the plunge. This series of posts is our version of how we travelled as a couple to one of the most beautiful and endearing countries in the world. It is not an indicator of what you should be doing; there are better websites out there that are also better written somehow, although it is beyond me how it is so. One of those unexplained mysteries of the world.


The preparation for the trip was an arduous, 8 hours of intense planning and googling. As many people might mislead you, planning is the last thing you should be doing for a trip to Turkey. My philosophy is somewhat similar to what a valiant beast of the wilderness, say, a tiger, does after getting up one fine, Sunday morning – decide what to do for the day, on the go. Maybe chill out with the tigresses for some time, play with a few berries, hunt and devour a wild boar and maybe wind up at the nearest watering hole for a nightcap. To quote a famous ceiling fan manufacturer’s tagline – it has to be dynamic.

So, as the first step we booked the tickets. I have married into a family that has slight Marwadi traits of which I was completely unaware of; which worked largely in my favour as the trip progressed and I came to know a little bit more about my better half. Coming back to the better things in life, we waited and waited until the airlines figured that there was this Indian couple who wanted to make a cheap trip to Turkey and decided to lower it a teensy-weensy bit. We sprung, booked the tickets and ran around the room, crying inside at our forthcoming inevitable credit card statements and cheering outside at the onset of a long-due trip to a lovely country.

We had made a mistake.

In the heat of the moment, we had booked tickets for a mere 7 days. It was an error of enormous proportions, which we came to realize much, much later. Don’t run away thinking I will not talk about it. I will elaborate in due course in gory, painful detail that will make any KJo movie seem like an action flick.
TIP: Plan for more than 7 days to Turkey. Preferably 10 days, or 20 days or 42 days or even 365 days; but never 7 days. Or less than 7. Which might be... *goes to get a calculator*
Meanwhile, preparations started somewhat. We googled for some time and then lost interest. It was two months in advance and there was a truckload of time. Procrastination is beautiful.


Around a month before the trip, came the visa. I found out that I was eligible for an e-visa to Turkey, all thanks to the company I worked with. However, my wife was not. So we consulted leading experts in the market of obtaining visas and zeroed in on Thomas Cook. The second big mistake, but this we realized much earlier.
TIP: Do not go through travel agencies to get your visa unless you have a weird fetish for getting high blood pressure. Apply yourself – it is easier, cheaper and less of a hassle.
After several trips to their offices, with barely 3 weeks to fly, Thomas Cook wanted our marriage certificate for God-knows-gujarati-what-reason.  They have a fixed template like an Andhra meals menu for all Middle-Eastern countries; none of which made sense for Turkey. The lady there even went to the extent of lying about a delegation from India flying to Turkey exactly on the same dates we were going. We went solo and got the visa rather easily. We swore at the guy who recommended us the agency and proceeded to go home and have a cup of filter coffee to calm our frayed nerves.

So, everything was more or less set. More googling happened. The googling may or may not have included shopping for clothes; my wife is unable to determine the exact location or nature of this particular memory segment.


Yahoo! weather came to the rescue, as we began packing 10 hours before the flight. It was supposed to be partly rainy around the time we were going; so we flung in an umbrella and a plastic shower cap for good measure. Apart from that, we decided to travel light. Please do not attempt to crack a joke asking whether we packed in Philips or Godrej. That sort of wry humour will not be tolerated.
I have made a checklist here of the things we took,
  1. 2 knapsacks
  2. 2 smaller bags
  3. Clothes for 7 days (me)
  4. Clothes for 83 days (wife)
  5. 2 pairs of sandals (for both of us)
  6. 1 Burma Towel
  7. Phone charger
  8. 1 plastic shower cap
  9. Camera with 2 memory cards and 1 pendrive (very helpful)
  10. Selfie stick (which was on the list but we forgot to take)
  11. 1 umbrella
  12. 2 books
  13. 1 soap, 1 toothpaste, 2 toothbrushes and 10 shampoo sachets
  14. 1 bucket of enthusiasm
  15. 1 small dead cockroach
The phone rang.

The cab had arrived.

I turned off the television; Suits paused at some dramatic point of the episode. I checked my watch for horoscopic auspiciousness and then realized I had no idea what the kaalam was. It was 12:30 AM, if you really want to know. It did not matter.
TIP: Start the previous day itself if you are going to the Bangalore airport. I am not aware of any visa required for that, as of now. Even if it is, strict no-no to Thomas Cook.
We high-fived, blew a kiss to the cricket and stepped out. All that mattered was beginning.


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