Educationist Doğan Yücel wrote about a trip to Turkey he and his colleagues organized for parents and businessmen while he was working in Lahore. He shared the memories he had from the trip and the places visited in Turkey.
As PakTurk teachers, we organized a trip to Turkey in June 2006 with the participation of some parents and businessmen from Lahore. The touristic and business trip lasted a week and was full of colourful activities. During the trip, we visited many historical and touristic places, including the tombs of ‘Mevlana’ Jalaluddin Rumi Konya and Abu Ayyub al-Ansari in Istanbul. Besides Konya and Istanbul, Bursa was also among our stops.
Hundreds of trips like this one were organized by PakTurk teachers. Most of the time, we would spend a considerable part of our annual leaves on these trips. Excursion programs were planned on daily and even hourly basis in advance. Almost everything including the hotel and vehicle reservations, restaurant bookings, appointments with dignitaries, etc. would be ready maybe a month before a trip. After preparing everyone’s documents one by one before this trip, which I will tell the story of, I went to Islamabad, 400 km away, by bus, and made their applications and delivery.
During the trip, we tried our best to go to almost every location worth visiting in the cities visited in Turkey, and to do the things that should be done there. For example, on the way from Istanbul to Ankara, we took a lunch break in Bolu. We visited Atakule, Kocatepe Mosque, colleges, schools, and factories, and held meetings with businessmen associations in Ankara. Besides visits to Rumi’s Tomb and Alaaddin Hill in Konya, we went on city tours and meetings with businesspeople. We performed the Friday prayer at the Ulu Mosque in Bursa. After visiting Emir Sultan’s Tomb, we took a city tour and also met businessmen.
The most comprehensive trip was in Istanbul
The longest and most comprehensive part of the trip was in Istanbul. After visiting Samanyolu TV on Saturday, we had tea on Camlica Hill. On Sunday, we performed the morning prayer at Eyüp Sultan Mosque and then had breakfast at Halit Pasha Mansion. We recited Fatiha and held our hands in prayer at some tombs in the Eyüp Cemetery. Later, we both rested and drank tea in Pierre Loti Café. Having toured the Miniaturk and after visiting the Sultanahmet Mosque, we stopped by the Sultanahmed Köftecisi to eat meatballs and had our fill. We had a busy day visiting the Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapi Palace and having the Bosporus tour. The next day, we visited the daily Zaman building, Fatih University, and toured factories. On another day, we visited the Yeni Mosque and the Spice Bazaar and shopped at the Grand Bazaar. On the same day, we returned to Pakistan after the CNR Fair tour.
I would like to tell you two of my unforgettable memories about this trip. Cherry can be found only in Peshawar in Pakistan. While passing through the Çay district of Afyon during the trip, we asked an old farmer if we could pick cherries from his orchard. Fortunately, he accepted. While entering the garden, I requested my Pakistani friends to “pick the fruits by the stem”. First, they ate the Napoleon variety of cherries. After 10-15 minutes, they plucked the cherries with the branches and stuffed them into the sacks they found in the garden. However, since the time was limited and the sacks were large, they broke branches. Two sacks of Napoleon cherries were collected in such a short time. The old man of the orchard went all shades of red, but he was rich at heart, so he said nothing. ☺ Picked cherries were finished in the van until we reached Istanbul.
How come you don’t know your father-in-law’s house!
My late father-in-law invited us to have breakfast at his house. However, I was confused about the streets because I had only been to his house two or three times until that day. While driving on one street after another in the van, Pakistani friends teased me a lot by saying, “How come you don’t know where your father-in-law’s house is?”
Among the participants of the trip was Mr. Asif, the union councillor (in a sense, the mayor) of the Islampura district, where our school was located. Before the trip, he had prepared plaques expressing Turkey and Pakistan friendship. We presented those plaques to the hosts or venue owners who hosted us in the places we visited. Mr. Asif was extremely kind as he mobilized his own resources to relocate the neighbourhood water pump station from the school yard to another location, distributed coupons to the prospective and deserving recipients of the meat packets before every Eid al-Adha, and arranged the overall cleanliness in and around the school campus. I would like to thank Mr. Asif, whom we always knew as a kind-hearted person, once again.
In addition, our assistant principal Eslem, who came to Turkey with another group at that time, and our student Mübashir, who won a gold medal in the Turkish Olympics, also attended the last two days of this trip.
To be continued…