On your feet, you!

Today the 88th birthday of the Turkish national anthem, Istiklal Marsi (Independence March), is being celebrated. Automatically my thoughts went back to years ago, when I first visited Turkey and went to a soccer match. I was in Fenerbahce stadium, the home team playing against Denizlispor. The atmosphere was good, even before any player kicked the ball. Next to me was a group of guys and girls around twenty years old, cheering loudly and fanatically. Everybody was standing up, but my back was hurting and when the players were on the field waiting for the match to start and some music started to play, I thought: let me sit down for a minute. Wrong! Because it was of course not the club song playing, but Istiklal Marsi. And of course then you can’t sit down. The girl next to me made that very clear by poking me with her elbow, looking at me very angry and hissing at me: ayak siz! I had no idea what that meant, but the message was clear anyway and now I knew she said: On your feet, you! For a club song?, I thought for a seconde, before realising that in Turkey the national anthem is played even for a very ordinary soccer match. And that you can never, no never, be frivolous about it.

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