A quick note about police differences as observed from walking around Istanbul: The police NEVER turn off their flashing blue/red lights.How do they pull people over then, when they are constantly crying wolf with their lights? I have no idea, but they never turn off their lights. The people seem to be used to it and basically ignore police unless they’re using water cannons or are in riot gear, and even then that seems to be normal enough to not incite significant alarm among the locals. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
Other silly thoughts from a Sunday: have you ever tried doing business with somebody with whom you do not share any natural language? Online or in stores in the USA this is pretty tricky, but it happens all of the time here on the streets. Purchasing flowers from a woman who knows nothing other than quantities and prices is completely possible, even with negotiating the price, without saying a single word that either of you understand. Numbers can be communicated using fingers, currency speaks for itself (numbers again), and body language does a good job of expressing thoughts and feelings without any words. Think about online commerce, though. Possible? Sure, but do we ever do it?
How will people who do not do any business online handle this in the future if they do not speak one of the few languages that is fairly universal (English primarily)? There will always be a need for offline commerce, but it has been interesting to see business taking place in our group. Being multi-lingual to a larger extent than the average American group of twenty-some people, still none of us speak Turkish so that has not really helped directly, though perhaps we are mostly used to working with others without a common language due to shared experiences in these types of situations.
Okay, back to the timeline of things happening. We left around 09:45 to go to the Dolmabahçe palace. From the outside, it looked fairly standard, but inside we learned about another sultan and his life. We learned that the sultan’s mother runs his house and decides all kinds of things, including the running of his harem and all that is associated with that from the (up to) four wives and several other concubines (I’ll leave it at that…. Google it for more information).
Inside the palace was a grand ballroom, with the second-largest carpet in the world according to our guide. The room was, well, amazing. The chandelier in the center weighed around four tons, which we all agreed was more than the lights in our own homes (seguewarning: I put up a light once in my home and while trying to get it fixed to the ceiling it felt like it weighed thee, but not four, tons). While this room was the central focus of this particular palace, the surrounding rooms were also very impressive in terms of their artwork, furniture (all original), and gilding. We were not allowed to take pictures in there but feel free to look online for more about the Dolmabahçe palace. A bit more information: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/Istanbul/Sights/Bosphorus/DolmabahcePalace.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolmabah%C3%A7e_Palace
After the palace stop, the bus dropped us off near where our church meetings would be held. We had time to scrounge for lunch and then we met with the local branch which was delightful. An infusion of twenty-some foreigners filled up their meeting area for the Sacrament meeting, and I cannot help but wonder how the local members felt overall. I imagine we were louder overall with doubled numbers, for example during singing the hymns. In all relevant ways, it was a Sacrament meeting, though. Speakers, singing, the Sacrament, prayers; having part of the meeting start in Turkish and then be translated to English, or vice versa as was necessary for the last talk, was fun.The people were all friendly and we had some great lessons while there. It may be worth mentioning that the country was just opened about six months ago for the Church to be officially recognized (there is some proper terminology that I should use here, but I do not knowit) and the country now has four missionaries, at least a couple of which were in our meeting.
The metro was used to get everybody back to the hotel, which was an easy ride on just one line. This really is a great way to get around, but I’ve covered that already. The rest of the day was free for anybody to do whatever. Around 21:00 there are rumors of karaoke nearby, so we’ll see how that works out.