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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kate's Experience

...There we were, in a Turkish café surrounded by cigarette smoke, heavy jackets, and cups of tea that took the shape of a perfect womanly figure. With our Sabanci buddies Talha and Besik leading the way, we left Istiklal, the ‘Broadway’ of Istanbul, onto this tiny cobblestone road, which led us to an incredibly charming, straight-out-of-a-children’s-book courtyard. There must have been upwards of thirty miniature tables and chairs, similar to the ones that you would give your daughter for tea parties. Twinkle lights darned the miniature trees and walls of the café, and it was only until I excused myself to use the restroom that I realized all of the tea, coffee, and shalep- a warm, white, cinnamon, egg nog-like drink that we all inhaled - was coming from a hole in the wall, two burner, mom and pop kitchen. Charlotte, Alex and myself, two Asians and an American, sat with Besik, Talha and some of his friends from high school who came to join us. We probed the two boys, since most of our interviews thus far had been with girls, about how they felt regarding headscarves. From most of our readings, it seemed like our class was walking into a war zone: the secularists on one side and the faithful activists in opposition. To our surprise, the headscarf issue was no longer in Vogue and most women were permitted to enter into universities covered, which signaled to us that what we thought was the hot button issue, is no longer so hot. That being said, it was clear that the two sides had not yet meshed together. Across the table Sar Jean from Izmet sat in his large, puffy, grass-green winter coat that accentuated his dark features. In response to our question about the girls he hung out with, he ended up answering an entirely different inquiry all-together, “I don’t have prejudice towards them” he chuckled nervously, “I just feel like if I look at them, they’ll think I’m a pervert.” Who are the ‘them’? Young women in headscarves... 

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