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Random Acts of Kindness

Mount Dora, Florida
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Random Acts of Kindness

Dear Forum Folk, Recently I received a PM from an individual who wanted to share a very positive experience he had with a taxi driver in Istanbul. This individual suggested that we might want to create a thread of positive experiences we have had in Turkey.

I have pondered how to start this for several weeks, because I would want to begin with an example or two and there were so many I really do not know where to begin. I truly believe I could write a book on Random Acts of Kindness in Istanbul.

In the US it seems to me that kindnesses among strangers are rare and growing even more rare. If someone is not rushing ahead to capture a parking place then they are tramping on my toes to reach the head of the line at Mc Donalds. The clerk at the drugstore is annoyed when she has to interupt her personal cell phone call to take my money, and the butcher at the market takes a deep sigh and rolls his eyes to the top of his head when asked to prepare a specific cut of meat.

I am quite confident that the concept of random acts of kindness was born in Turkey. At least I have never visited any other country when so many strangers went out of their way to help us in ways big and small. So I am going to write of a few experiences we had, and I hope that others will include their experiences as well. Would'nt it be great for first time visitors to Turkey to know what they can expect before they arrive?

When we got to Turkey we were whisked through the airport and into our waiting car so quickly that I did not even see anyplace to exchange currency. When we got to the hotel I asked about a place, but was told I was "too tired to do that now so not to worry". The following day, a Sunday, we used the 100YTL my son-in-law had obtained at the airport. On Monday the owner of our hotel, and a former tour guide, offered to take us through Sultanahmet. My first request was a place to exchange currency so I could pay for admissions, meals etc. This charming man said we should not take time to do that, and then he reached into his wallet, removed 300YTL and said he thought that would be sufficient for our needs for the day and we could pay him back anytime we wished to.

Our hotel was ground zero for random acts of kindness. Tea or coffee were always offered in the afternoon when we returned from our adventures. Our quest for directions to a restaurant were always provided with a guide to take us. From a can of Coke to a farewell dinner, the staff of our hotel displayed a level of generosity we have never before experienced.

On the first Thursday we were in Istanbul we had dinner at the Moziak. My husband left his brand new $3000 camera at the restaurant. We had walked about half way back to our hotel when we were stopped by a server in the restaurant. He told us that several servers were fanning out all over the area to look for us because we had left our camera behind. Shortly there after the server with the camera delivered it.

Almost every time we asked anyone for directions they stopped what they were doing and personally guided us to our location. In Bursa a man walked with us for eight confusing blocks to deliver us to the Ozdelik towel store. In Istanbul a man got off of the tram and walked with us to a camera store, and then got back on the tram to resume his journey.

Tea must be the liquid of random acts of kindness. I remember from the years we lived in Turkey that we were offered tea several times in every block, from every home and shop in our village. It was no different in March if I paused for a minute to lean against my cane and catch my breath someone came out with a chair and a glass of tea. In Sirkeic, when it was completely clear that the lady in the camera store did not have what we needed she nonetheless insisted on sharing a glass of tea before we left, permitting me to rest for a few minutes before resuming my walk.

My favorite tea story happened after sunset in the park between the Blue Mosque and Aya Sophia. My husband was off somewhere taking pictures and I waited for him on the benches in the park. It was quite cold and there were only two or three other people there. After about ten minutes an old man came and sat by me. He did not speak a word of English, and I spoke no Turkish but he smiled and waved down a waiter and ordered two glasses of tea which we shared together. The waiter, translating for the old man, told me the man ordered the tea because "...it was good I should be warm on a cold night."

In reality acts of kindness in Turkey do not seem to be random at all. They seem to me to be part of everyday behavior, but I know that some of you will remember behaviors that were particularly unusual. So share them with us.

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1. Re: Random Acts of Kindness

What a great idea!

I often remember a strange incident during my first visit to Istanbul. I was with a small group of ladies and we had just crossed Galata Bridge and were walking along the embankment in front of Yeni Mosque when a group of young lads snatched my friend's bag and ran off. One of the women ran after them while I stayed to comfort my friend. I heard myself telling her not to worry as she'd get her bag back. She looked at me as if I was mad (I remember thinking the same thing myself),,,then suddenly a Turkish man came running up with her bag. He'd chased the lads across Galata Bridge and retrieved the bag intact with purse, credit cards and digital camera. He refused any payment and disappeared into the crowd..

Deb.

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2. Re: Random Acts of Kindness

hi busy-retired

what a brilliant write up regarding acts of random kindness in istanbul (in fact all of turkey) i myself have experienced many acts of kindness myself when visiting istanbul my country is the same as yours now lacking sadly in manners

im of to istanbul on thursday so i will write about my trip on my return

one act thats sticks out to me ,i lost my wallet containing £400

4 credit cards,do not relise this untill i returned to my hotel . the manager asked me if i had lost anything i relised my wallet was missing he said the lady who was cleaning the floors in the shop were i had been found it and handed it in to her manager what great honesty it would take her months to earn the £400 cash what was in my wallet

this is just one act of random kindness there are more ...

im now good friends with the family of the lady who found my wallet in fact when i arrive in istanbul she will be the 1st person i will visit

as ive stated i wll write about my visit to istanbul on my return

once again busy- retired what a brilliant statement

(evertonia123)

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3. Re: Random Acts of Kindness

hi b/r

sorry about my grammer in my reply but im packing and typing at the same time

(evertonia123)

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4. Re: Random Acts of Kindness

Stopped to buy an icecream in a little shack cafe on a beach, very cheap, lady made us apple tea for 2 and 2 pancakes she said on the house, we only had to pay for 1 icecream, bless I left her an extra 1tyl, she came running after me and insisted I took a jar of free honey and gave me my tip back, what kindness, I have never known anything like it in England.

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5. Re: Random Acts of Kindness

What a great idea for a thread, BR! Like you, I was amazed at how every time we asked for directions we were escorted to where we were trying to go. I cannot count how many times that happened. It didn't matter if the person we asked was male or female, young or old, someone we were passing on the street or even one time an employee who was working in a shop...all of them insisted on escorting us rather than just giving us directions. It got to the point that my daughter and I stopped asking for directions and wandered around lost a few times because we didn't want to inconvenience anyone.

I was also amazed when we bought a lamp in a carpet shop not far from the Gulhane tram stop and the nephew of the shop owner insisted on walking us all the way back to the Armada Hotel so he could carry the lamp for us. Our hotel wasn't just a few steps up the hill...it was up the hill to Sultanahmet Square, then over to Topkapi Palace and then all the way down the other side of the hill to the shore road where the Armada is located, despite all of our protests that it really wasn't necessary. Now this wasn't an exceptionally heavy lamp, nor did we buy a carpet or anything of significant value from this shop. All we bought was the lamp and a small bowl, both of which we were quite capable of carrying ourselves. Where else on this planet would something like that happen?

Then there was the Turkish grandmother who didn't speak any English who was out with her two young grandchildren on a very hot day. She came and sat next to us in the grass at a park next to the underground cistern and started fanning us when she noticed we had sweat dripping off of us. We had a lovely half-hour "conversation" with her and her grandchildren that afternoon that ended in hugs as we later went our separate ways, even though we spoke no Turkish and they spoke no English

And another very elderly Turkish woman who didn't speak any English who was walking down a very steep hill in Balat behind my daughter and I. She noticed we were slipping on the sand in the street and she came up behind us, took our arms and led us over to the very edge of the street where there was no sand to slip on. All of this was done with gestures and smiles because we didn't speak the same language.

There were so many similar incidents that occurred during our trip that it would take a year to recite them all. It seems to me that there is some wonderful trait ingrained in all Turks that causes them to be unbelievably warm, welcoming and helpful to everyone they come across. I've never seen anything like it anywhere else that I've traveled, and it's why I think Istanbul is the most fantastic city in the world.

Jo

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6. Re: Random Acts of Kindness

What a nice subject! Reading peoples experiences I even think more than kindness there is lots of random honesty.

My first experince was during a holiday in Turkey, I wanted to walk to Oludeniz over the mountians from Kaya Koy. And we were going to be picked up in Oludeniz. So we left without money and no cell phones because in those days reception was bad anyway.

We started towards the evening. We followed the guidelines in a book, and we ended up in Cold Water Spring Bay. A place where you can only come by boat or by walk. As it was getting dark we could not return and there was no boatservice. Only one restaurant where they were getting ready for the dinner from people who came from their yachts.

We talked to the owner, he told if we could wait he would take us back after his job had finished. So no money and getting hungry, so we talked again, in no time our table was prepared and we could have a very nice meal on this lovely location!

The owner told us to leave the money for the meal in the village in a local shop, he would pick it up from there.

He took us to our hotel by boat and car later that night, and we had a wonderful evening.

This is just a small exemple of kindness, and trust, I don't know why we forgot this attitude, first because we are not prepared to help anymore or do we get an impulse straight away that you can forget about the money.

I should add to reassure that the walks are all well marked these days in and around the Kaya Valley and you can't go wrong anymore. And ain't I lucky to live here now!

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7. Re: Random Acts of Kindness

We too recently had a wonderful experience with acts of human kindness. Actually it was more my husband who experienced this.

He had gone to the airport to pick up two guests. While travelling on the road towards Cirali one of his car's tires went. Meanwhile he tired to fix the tire but the car's jack was insufficient and did not work.

He had flagged down a passing motorist and left the car ( with our guests ) behind to get a person to fix the tire. Anyways as he was gone a passer by and most likely a taxi man stopped...took a look at the car's situation...pondered for a few moments and then proceeded to get out a larger jack and change the tire.

The guests told me that he spoke no english and when he was finished he put his hand on his heart and wavied goodbye....he never asked for any money to preform this act of kindness and he stopped on his own accord.

When my husband returned to the car after a bit the tire was fixed and the man that stopped to offer help was gone. This shows to me that there is still greatness in the world and proves that the turkish people truely in their hearts are very willing to help.

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Cirali
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8. Re: Random Acts of Kindness

What a great post.

When in Turkey several weeks ago, we were on a crowded dolmus. we were amazed when a young turkish man got up and gave his seat to a lady that got on the dolmus. This kind of gentlemanly behaviour just doesnt exist in the uk anymore and hasnt done for many years.

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9. Re: Random Acts of Kindness

What an interesting response you are receiving to this thread B R.

My own story is a party of six stopping at the Pera Palace second weekend in January.(a few years ago ). Most of the Taxis would only take three people,

but this one guy who hung back a few yards away from the Hotel entrance would carry the six of us in a large Amercan car. He absolutely made our holiday a time to remember, and at the end of the first day was showing us where to eat and of course we included him with us. Nothing was to much trouble, even finding shop owners to open up on Sunday. How I wish I could find him again on my forthcoming visit in November.

We often see complaints on the Forum about Taxi fares being to high, let's have a few phone numbers of Taxis that will carry for a reasonable charge.

Pageboy

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10. Re: Random Acts of Kindness

We had many great experiences with incredible hospitality in Turkey I would like to share. First, when visiting Buyukada we were invited into one of the GRAND homes on the main street by a man who we learned through some hilarious fast page flipping of the phrase book was the caretaker. He was clearly so proud of the house and wanted to share it with us. We'll never know if his name was Ankara or if his family lived in Ankara (the phrase book failed us in that exchange) but we had a wonderful time on this impromptu tour. Second, upon exiting the Pera Palas Hotel after just peaking inside the staff who were clearing flowers from a wedding or a banquet offered my friend and I each a large bouquet--which we kept in our room for our stay in Istanbul. So delightful. Third, in Selcuk we were eating at a hotel and the hotel manager invited us to the hotel lounge for some Turkish fruit wine and to meet his friends. It turned out his friend was the manager of the Ephesus toilets and was the genius behind the hilarious sign outside the toilets (you'll know the one when you see it). Well we were able to ask Mehmet the toilet manager all about the sign and his inspiration and his passion for bringing customers into the Ephesus toilets (seriously he could wax poetic about it). Without the kind invitation of the hotel manager we would never have learned the secret history of the bathroom signs at Ephesus and it really was the most hilarious and enjoyable episode on our trip.

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