Excerpts: Bright Sun, Strong Tea

Here are excerpts from my humorous travel memoir, Turkey: Bright Sun, Strong Tea.

1. Champagne in the Air

The champagne was at 31,000 feet and by happy circumstance so was I…. More

2. Divine Calculus

I discovered the magic of the Blue Mosque after moving to Istanbul in 1968, just about the time a mailman tried to convert me to Islam…. More

3. The Blonde at the Circumcision Party

Circumcision is when the foreskin on the penis is surgically removed. Olivia was a Radcliffe girl, my Impossible Dream, too beautiful, smart and well-bred ever to fall for me. Would the circumcision party give me another chance? More

4. Cheap Blond(e) Foreigners

“COME TO ANKARA. BRING A BLONDE,” the telegram read. What luck! I was going to be…a movie starMore

5. Life on Location

They had come to the mosque to pray and here were these blond foreigners, one of them obviously–far too obviously–a woman, being chased around by klieg lights and a movie camera…. More

6. The Thumb in my Soup

The director instructed the waiter to serve us the soup again, and this time to be sure his thumb was in it…. More

7. Midnight Express

Or how a convicted drug smuggler becomes a romantic hero… More

8. Aladdin’s Lamp Shop

I could hardly believe it: the troll-like guy who sold antique Ottoman lamps was named Aladdin…. More

9. Rockefeller Geldi!

Who would buy such a monstrosity? A millionaire with more money than sense. Like, uh, Nelson RockefellerMore

10. Diplomatic Démarche

The 4th edition of my Lonely Planet guide had a photo of three cute village girls on the cover. It almost caused a diplomatic incident…. More

11. What’s In a Name?

I love that part of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusadewhere Indie appears in the “Republic of Hatay” between World Wars I and II. Approximately one one-thousandth of one percent of the people who see that movie might have any clue at all… More

12. The Bile Green Color Wasn’t Even the Worst of It

I look through the dismal collection of dives squatting miserably on the waterfront of old Alexandretta. Only one of them has a vacant room. “I’m afraid it’s our worst room,” the desk clerk says. He shows it to me and my heart sinks…. More…

13. Tears at Topkapı

We leaned against the heavy marble balustrade by the Baghdad Kiosk in Topkapi Palace, gazing out at the city of the sultans. Jane’s eyes filled with tears. “I have something to say….” More…

14. Eastern Sacrifice

So we were going to separate. But first…. What? We were going to travel together through Eastern Turkey. We ended up in a remote village shortly after a dozen sheep had been sacrificed for Kurban Bayrami. We ate mutton, and 50 people watched us as though we were prime time TV…. More…

15. Some People Never Learn

The local taxi drivers said the road was bad, so what did we do? Duh, we went down it anyway, and ended up stuck in the middle of nowhere surrounded by wolves and smugglers, with night coming on…. More…

16. Then and Now

When I first arrived in Turkey it was against the law for husband and wife to hold hands in public. Now many Turkish girls wear skimpy bikinis and there are even topless beaches. How we all have changed…. More…


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