aka: The best time to be in Ankara.
Eid Mubarak/iyi bayramlar/happy holidays! For those not in the know, this holiday is the Sacrifice holiday. It marks and celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of submission to God. At the last possible moment, God intervened and gave Abraham a lamb to sacrifice instead of his first born. If none of this sounds familiar, then you know, google it… or something. Needless to say in the Islamic world it’s a big deal kind of day because they have calculated the exact date this happened and celebrate on that day every year. Even here in Turkey which maintains a (quasi these days) secular style, there is a week holiday around Kurban Bayramı (Sacrifice Holiday). Of course being secular (and über capitalist), most things are only closed for the actual day of sacrifice but people take the time to visit family or go on vacation. Which means Ankara is left empty. Blissfully, beautifully, wonderfully empty.
Up until this year I had never spent a Kurban Bayramı in Ankara — I also took advantage of the opportunity to travel or get away from the city. Usually to a place that would definitely not involve accidentally running into ritual sacrifices (lambs, goats, cows these days… no first-born sons that I’ve heard of). Technically it’s not allowed in the cities, but I’ve heard of people happening upon such sightings while out around different (more conservative) parts of towns or local villages. So I bail far. Like America or Western Europe far. However this year we’re stuck and had to stay in town. It was a combination of Mr. Awesome having to get some projects finished up and me being beyond the point of traveling around the second (if I’m generous) world without access to a good hospital or doctor in this whole baby cooking process. I thought staying here would not only be boring (as per usual Ankara), but also a little miserable since we’re actually stuck. Boy, was I wrong!
Not only is Ankara empty — which if you live in Ankara you know to be a good thing — but it’s also peaceful in a way it rarely is when the Ankaralılar are here. First, driving has been a lovely experience this past week. Which is to say normal by my American standards with a few impressive exceptions. Second, lines have been manageable or non-existent. My theory? Mostly foreigners left in town (and frequenting the Starbucks) so it’s people who actually know how to queue! (Except that girl that stole my coffee the other day even after the barista told her the cup said my name, or a close approximation of it, and tried to then argue she could just keep my decaf nonfat latte and I her full caf, full fat latte… Borcu Hanım, I’m looking at you. Don’t mess with a pregnant lady’s coffee order, people.) Third, the people left in town have been in freakishly pleasant moods for the most part. Maybe because they’re taking to heart the spirit of this bayram and being thoughtful, or maybe just because they too have had to deal with fewer than normal frustrations around town. What ever the reason, I’m loving it. I think this might be my favorite time to be in Ankara.