Now that I have successfully made it to Istanbul, Turkey, and have had a chance to settle in and familiarize myself with the city, I can finally start blogging.
Yesterday was my fourth day in Istanbul and I had the opportunity to take part in a public iftar (breaking of the fast) with local Turkish families. My 5 other trip-mates and our interpreter, intended to visit a public iftar on the Asian side of Istanbul to take some photos and videos for our multimedia class. When we arrived, we noticed there weren’t many people and it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. In a few minutes, what started off as a small number of people, turned into a large crowd of families that were waiting patiently to break their fasts.
A kind family invited my friends and I to have a seat on the ground and take part in their public iftar. Before we could ask for anything, they started passing us all kinds of unique Turkish dishes to pour into our plates. They gave us water, soup, pastries, and lots of other delicious food. The few minutes before the Adhan, the call to prayer went off, families of adults, elderly and children were waiting together to eat. Some were talking, others were passing food to each other, and some were raising their hands in prayer.
The lady we sat with, Ayfer, spoke a little bit of English, so we were able to ask her where the food had come from, and what the Iftar was for. She was very kind and was interested in knowing where we were travelling from and our backgrounds. At the moment of break fast, everyone excitedly began eating their meals and their faces lit up with joy as they appreciated every bite.
The experience of having iftar with Turkish families was one of my favourite moments so far. There’s something different about immersing yourself in a new city and getting to know the people and their practices. Despite there being a slight language barrier, I felt welcomed in the crowd and was able to have small conversations with the families as well. What I found amazing was that despite having some differences, I was able to connect and relate to the Turkish families as a result of Ramadan, a blessed month that touches on the importance of building unity with our families and local and global communities. We shared one thing in common and that was more than enough for us to enjoy each other’s company and feel unified.
So…travel tip: Do whatever you can to immerse yourself in a new culture. Whether it’s taking part in a community gathering or spending the day with a local citizen, take the time to be a part of the society you are living in. It’s the best way to learn about the people, their values, their language and more!
That’s all for now, stay tuned for more!