Istanbul May 11, 2007

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By Bruce B. Brugmann

CNN today was drumming on with news of Tony Blair going and Gordon Brown coming in as prime minister of Great Britain. The Turkish Press was reporting that the national elections here had been moved up three months to July 22, and this surprised the political parties, who were alarmed and said they were forced to bring in the professionals to help them carry on effective campaigns during the short period left before the election. The Turkish Daily News, Turkey’s English daily, reported that there was no space left on the TV stations or on the billboards and that campaign ads would be competing with ice cream manufacturers.
On the plane coming in, Spiro Vryonis sat next to associate pubublisher Jean Dibble and filled her in on the elections from his perspective as a Byzantine scholar. Vryonis, retired director of the center for the study of Hellenism in Sacramento, told her that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported his Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul for president. “They get along like two dogs until someone throws a bone between them,” he said.
Meanwhile, I found good advice in Time Out Istanbul, the city-living guide in English. It wrote about the art of Keyif, which translates as “a pleasurable state of idle relaxation.” The article said that Keyif has been honed down to an art form by the Trurks and laid out 10 ways of experiencing Keyif the Turkish way. My favorite was the idea of walking aimlessly along the Bosthorus, the body of water seperating Asia from Europe. It said that “you’ll be surprised how relaxing the Oriental art of walking around with no destination is.” The 58th International Press Institute world congress and general assembly starts tomorrow. So I think I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon doing Keyif. B3