I’m in the middle of writing an article about Turkish women who grew up in the Netherlands but who decided as adults to move to Turkey. Well, decided…, that’s not the right word in some cases. A few women moved to Turkey for a year and planned to return to the Netherlands after that year. ‘That’s three years ago now’, one of the women said. At first she hesitated to leave Holland, partly because of a wrong picture of her parents’ home country. She knew it only from holidays, which the family spent in some small dusty village with too much social control. She thought Turkey didn’t have too much to offer, apart from a job for one year. But after living in Istanbul she got to know the country better and found a modern life that suited her nicely. So when she was offered an extension of her job contract she immediately said ‘yes’. Then she met a man and got married, and plans to raise her baby boy in Turkey.
I remember packing my bags to go to Turkey. I wanted to broaden my experience in foreign journalism and Turkey seemed a good place to do it. I was not mistaken: Turkey is exciting, alive, and, from a journalist’s point of view, objectively speaking, just the most interesting country in the world. From the first month on, work went well. And slowly I settled in more and more, sometimes without even realising it. Building a website after just a few months – you don’t make the effort if you plan to leave again six months later, do you? Getting a resident’s permit instead of leaving the country for a new tourist visa every three months. Deciding to become a taxpayer in Turkey because it would save me so much money. And, very importantly: seeing so many stories that I want to write. The subjects that I am especially interested in, like women’s lives, human rights, politics and minorities, just never fail to inspire me. Besides, how could I leave with local elections coming up in March 2009 and Istanbul being Cultural Capital of Europe for 2010? Turkey has gotten a firm hold of me. When I packed my bags, I intended to come for one year. This month, that will be exactly two years ago. How much longer will I stay? As the Turks say: Allah bilir – Allah knows.