I remember receiving a postcard once. It was a long time ago. But it lives in my memory. It was from Turkey. A friend on holiday sent it to me. I pinned it up – it was a monument – the Sultan Ahmed Mosque I was to find out later.
I would look at it once in a while. I didn’t really give it much attention and vaguely remember thinking to myself that it would be an interesting place to visit. And then shelved it in the back of the travel “wishlist”.
And then, a few years later, a friend who was visiting Turkey happened to upload and share pictures of the food, performances and sights from the country and that piqued my curiosity a little more. The food definitely looked delicious, the sights were varied and interesting, the traditions deep-rooted in history.
While reading some literature about Turkey, I came across the whirling dervishes. Nary a mention goes of Turkey without a reference to the dervishes – performers in white and black robes who whirl as in in a trance. Fascinating is the word. I was compelled to dig deeper, which led me to the origin and the practice of this ancient tradition.
About two years ago, I came to discover more about the city of Istanbul through an online travel feature. The Grand Bazaar, which I hear one can spend days exploring. The Basilica Cistern with the upside down head of Medusa. The Topkapi Palace – home to the Ottoman empire for more than 400 years. The 360 degree view from the Galata Tower. The Bosphorus, which runs through the heart of Istanbul.
That night, I dreamt of the Bosphorus. Even though I hadn’t visited the country, the images were clear. There are certain places on earth which live vividly in your imagination and Turkey is one of them. I saw the waters ripple in the strait, the ships sail peacefully across the horizon as I walked along the busy harbour. I was there. It was a dream, and it was as vivid as one can be.
These days, Turkey comes up quite often in my travel plans. I think of the experiences, of the sights and sounds that I want to discover, the underwater wonders waiting to be explored, the miles of walking around in store for me and the warm and beautiful people, who I’ll be lucky to encounter.
It’s a given. I don’t need a million reasons or stories; I have one. I need to visit Turkey. Because life hasn’t quite been the same since I dreamt of the Bosphorus.
(Note: “This post is an entry in the “Million Stories” Contest sponsored by the Turkish Embassy, India.” If you want to enter, do visit this page: Million Stories. There is also a Twitter and Facebook contest from Dec 20-Jan 3, 2014.