Q & A Series With Locals: Anjana From Turkey

After Uzbekistan & Kazakhstan, In my third post of Q & A Series With Locals, I interviewed Anjana from Turkey. We got in touch via Instagram. During our online conversations, she came across as a nice, thoughtful and gentle person. Anjana is an Indian expat who’s been living in Turkey. She is an artist from Istanbul, you can check out her stunning artwork here. I discovered/learned many things about Turkey from our Questionnaire. It’s been close to 2 years since my trip to Istanbul and after the Interview, I want to go back and explore the rest of the country as soon as possible!




Please tell us about yourself.
Hello, I’m Anjana, born and brought up in Bombay, India.  I’m an Interior Architect with a Masters in Yacht Design, currently working on creating art with wood in Istanbul. I moved to Turkey in May of 2010 for my husband, who is Turkish, and have been living here ever since! I lived in Izmir for 3.5 years before moving to Istanbul.

How many countries have you visited so far?
Italy, Croatia, The Netherlands, a tiny bit of Germany, Liechtenstein, Portugal, Hungary, Greece, Georgia, Thailand, UK, USA

How would you describe Turkish people?
Like with any country in the world, there are all kinds of people living here.
I’ve had both, positive and negative experiences.
I’ve met people who have been incredibly kind, helpful and welcoming. I’ve had some great conversations with people talking about each other’s cultures, thoughts and dreams. Over the years I’ve made some close friends whom I absolutely love.
I’ve also met people who have been rude, very racist, condescending and have yelled at me “go back to your own country!”. I’ve unwillingly, been subjected to negative ‘conversations’ about religion, with people trying to get me to convert.
But over the years I’ve learned to try my best to not engage with negative people because there are
loads of great people with an open and positive outlook to talk to instead ?


How would you describe Turkey?
Turkey, to me, is a country of contrasts.
Wealth and poverty side by side. Urban, busy cities next to tiny, quiet villages. Non-religious people living alongside religious ones. Open minded individuals amongst the more closed minded.
You’ll come across many tourist traps that will try and take all you have but before you can feel down about that you’ll meet some locals who will go out of their way to do what they can to help.
Geographically, it is a beautiful country. Loads of places to explore – a gorgeous coastline lined with amazing beach towns, historically rich cities, highlands with mountain houses when you need a break from civilization.


How well does people in Turkey speak English on a scale to 1-10?
Not taking into consideration touristic spots, a surprisingly small number of Turks speak English – and this is in the big cities. Most people who speak English here are the ones who have either, studied in Private schools which hire foreign teachers for teaching languages, or people who have studied abroad, or professionals working for large/international organisations.
In small towns and villages, it is almost impossible to find locals who speak or even understand English. So, I would say 1-2 overall. Turkish is an official language of Turkey.


Which is the key phrase/word/expression that people in Turkey usually say?
“Allah Allah!” It’s a polysemic expression for a multitude of emotions – good heavens! Good grief! What the hell! Ah shit! Oh no! and so on
“Boşver” – literal translation is ‘give empty’ but its used to say ‘let it be’ ‘forget it’
“Ellerine sağlık” – ‘thanks to your hands’ a very cute way of expressing appreciation when someone makes something for you (food, a handmade present).
“Güle güle kullan / Iyi günlerde kullan” – use happily / use in good days / enjoy your new (whatever you have bought or have been given)
“Kolay gelsin” – may it be easy for you, usually used when someone is working on something difficult


Which is the best/essential local food to try in Turkey?
Turkey is food heaven for meat lovers – İskender kebap, all kinds of kebaps really (Adana kebap is my favourite), lahmacun(Turkish Pizza), are just some of the many options. Definitely fistikli baklava (Pistachio baklava) & künefe for dessert.


Which is the best/essential local drink to try in Turkey?
Raki – made from twice distilled grapes and aniseed. They also have some delicious local wines made in Turkey.

Which is the best/essential festival to attend in Turkey?
The Tulip festivals in Emirgan and Gulhane parks in Istanbul, every year in April, are worth visiting.
Turks don’t really celebrate festivals on a large scale, unfortunately, so there isn’t much in terms of festivals.


Which sport are Turkish people crazy about?
Futbol! (Soccer / Football)
Go Fenerbahçe!! 😉


Which are the best cities/places to visit in Turkey?
Beach towns along the Mediterranean coast are all absolutely beautiful. Fethiye, Akyaka, Datça, Kaş, Marmaris, Çeşme, Bodrum, Antalya to name a few. Fethiye is my personal favourite. Cappadocia/Kapadokya, Pamukkale, Ephesus for their historical beauty. The Black sea region highlands and the beautiful mountain houses there.
Istanbul of course, for its historical value, beautiful Bosporus and city life.

ILhara valley




What are the landmarks and hidden gems of Turkey?
The abandoned village in Kayaköy, Af Kule monastery in Fethiye, a region called Moda in Istanbul (for its very artistic vibe, little cafes & boutique-style stores), Asansör in Izmir for a gorgeous view of the city, local vineyards in Tekirdağ.


Please share an Interesting trivia about Turkey?
Turks love drinking endless cups of black tea “Çay” throughout the day. It’s always time for freshly brewed Çay – even at the hottest time of day in the middle of summer! You’ll be offered tea at the most unexpected places (our local grocery shop always offers us tea when we go to buy vegetables & my “Very Turkish when it comes to Çay” husband, seldom refuses a cup 🙂 It’s also pretty common to finish any meal with a cup of tea (or Turkish coffee).

What are the most popular stereotypes/cliches about Turkey?
The Fez is not commonly worn around Turkey. It was actually banned in Turkey in 1925.
The annoying Maraş ice cream vendors are only common around touristic spots.
Turkey is not conservative like a lot of the middle east. (It was even more modern a few years ago). The burqa or headscarf is not compulsory, women can drive, live alone, study, etc. Praying 5 times a day is not a compulsion. The country does not shut down during the fasting festival of Ramazan.
The Turkish language is an Altaic language, not similar to Arabic, even though it does incorporate a few words from Arabic and Persian, it is not even close to Arabic.
Turkish uses the Latin alphabet.
Camels aren’t used for transportation anywhere in Turkey, I’ve actually only seen them in touristic cities.
Polygamy is illegal in Turkey.


Which is the best time to visit Turkey?
Really depends on what kind of a holiday you’ve planned!
Summer/Autumn for beaches, Winter / Spring for walking or sightseeing vacations.

Are there any local customs a visitor should be sensitive to?
As with a lot of Asian countries, if you visit someone’s house, make sure to take your shoes off at the entrance (most of the time you’ll be given house slippers).
For a tourist visiting for a short period of time, there is nothing of importance that comes to my mind – just behave polite and civilised 🙂

Pictures courtesy: Anjana B.

When I asked her to share an interesting picture of her. She chose the above one.
This is the picture taken during my visit to Pigeon valley in Cappadocia. I have come to know this interesting story from my visit: When Christians were living in Cappadocia they used to produce wine locally, wine being an important part of their religious beliefs. At some point, the fertility of the soil in the vineyards started to decline, and wine production suffered. It was during this time that a ‘wise person’ from the village, suggested that the people use pigeon dung in their vineyards as fertilizer. So the town people carved little houses for the pigeons in the rocks all over this valley – the pigeons had a place to call home and the winemakers had their fertilizer.
Now centuries later, the pigeons are gone, but hikers have a gorgeous valley to walk through while imagining how it must have been back then ? And since a lot of vineyards are still here (around Pigeon Valley and other regions of Capadoccia), we can keep enjoying delicious local wines produced locally. A happy ending for everyone!
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An Indian Traveler

Hello! My name is Saurabh and I am the voice behind the “An Indian Traveler” blog. I'm a cinephile, travel writer, an avid traveler with a song stuck in my head which I keep humming till ad nauseam :)

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  1. I love this idea, and I look forward to reading more pieces like this. The best way to learn about any place is to talk to locals.

  2. I’ve really enjoyed listening to how others in Turkey greet each other, and what some popular sayings are in that country. Loved their version of “thanks for your hands.”

  3. What a lovely interview! I just came back from Turkey a few weeks go and had a wonderful experience. I found it very contrasting too, in a good way. The places like Cappadocia are amazing. I didn’t make it to the coast, but I’ll take her suggestions for next time!

  4. It’s incredible how social media allows us to connect with people from all over the world and allows us to learn more and experience other cultures. This is a great series and has been wonderful, Anjana.

  5. Nice to know about Turkey from an Indian expat. Anjana surely shared some great information every tourist should be curious to know about. I didn’t know Turkish people do not speak much English. When in Turkey, I would love to try Turkish pizza and baklava, oh yes, the kebaps too. I loved the picture that she shared at the end – it is interesting indeed.

  6. Very interesting interview. I especially loved the Turkish expressions– it’s always a kick to hear other culture’s slang. It was also interesting to hear of the racism leveled against her for being Indian, as a black woman I know this hatred all too well. Mostly, I loved that it gave us an opportunity to experience turkey from someone viewing it with fresh eyes, like it would be if we/an american, were visiting.

  7. This is a great series. I love learning about new places from the people who actually live there. It’s the best way to get a real feel for an area rather than just the glossy tourist version that you usually find.

  8. I love hearing about locations direct from the locals as they genuinely know the area and are not trying to sell you on the tourist traps. I love learning how the locals live.

  9. I’ve never thought about Turkey outside of what the media has portrayed to us. These photos are beautiful. Thank you for sharing and giving a different perspective.

  10. I would love to visit Turkey some day, so I really enjoyed getting an insider’s perspective here. I also drink hot black tea year round, so it sounds like my kind of place to indulge!

  11. Cappadocia is absolutely stunning! I would love to visit and see it for myself. Thanks for this post, giving us all a little insight on Turkey.

  12. What a great idea. This is the kind of information people need before they travel – not the stuff you read in travel magainzes that just want to sell you something.

  13. Thanks for this great interview. I learned a lot more about Turkey. I am going to remember those phrases and try them out!

  14. It is nice to know about Anjana and her works. Thanks for sharing her experiences. It is always nice to meet and read about bloggers. It is not so easy to settle down in other countries so she is inspiring others too.