Yes, I am smoking a cigarette, It’s OK though, it was 23 years ago. Back then, cigarettes were cool.
As many of you already know, this Belly Dancer is barking up the wrong tree. I think it was the cigarette that drew her to me.
It’s really weird that Belly Dancers exist in Turkey. Even though Turkey is more liberal than other Muslim countries, it still IS a Muslim country… so it should be an anathema to have women dressed the way she is wriggling around a room letting men (presumably only men) stuff money into her clothing. We all know what would happen to her, let’s say, in Iran. Yeah, not going to work out well for her there. In any case, I wasn’t going to slide 10 or 20 Lira into some part of her clothing. It seemed very inappropriate to me; it’s just not something I’d be comfortable doing.
This outing to a restaurant was by invitation of a DMC (destination management company) that had invited me to Turkey to see the sites and hopefully bring incentive travel groups to Turkey. That never happened.
However, this invitation was for more than just a visit to a club. It included a private car with a driver, a guide and entrance to several of the most famous and interesting attractions that Istanbul has to offer (Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and a Bosphorus (a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia) tour.
Here’s a picture of me and Allen in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
But back to the Belly Dancer club. I remember this Belly Dancer and the fact that I ate some food, but the rest of the evening was less enjoyable. While eating a piece of bread, I bit into a rock and broke a molar in half. Yeah, not fun but All in a Day’s Work.
The DMC made arrangements for me to see the company owner’s dentist the next morning. Upon entering the dentist office, I was led down a hall in which I walked past a room that looked very clean but also very dated. It absolutely looked like a dentist’s office in the states circa 1930. I’m serious. I was now more than apprehensive and already thinking of my escape plan. But just as I was about to say “Üzgünüm” I entered the “real” dentist’s treatment room. It looked as modern as any dentist office I’d ever been to. All went well.
I brought the receipt for the dental work home with me and submitted it to my health insurance company. They reimbursed me for the dentist office visit. I think the cost was approx. 40 million lira. I know, that sounds like a lot, but I think at the time 40 million lira converted to about $35 USD. Since that time, Turkey removed six zeros from their currency making it much easier to use. Before that time, everything had cost several million lira for simple everyday items like inek sütü (milk) and ekmek (bread).
This is the lobby of the Conrad Hilton; the hotel in which I stayed during my visit to Istanbul in 1992.
A note about Turkey: I actually lived in Turkey from 1971 to early 1973. That’s a much more complex story which I will leave for another post.