Stopping at Istanbul seemed like a good transition from Egypt back to the US. It is a country in which more than 90 percent of the population is Muslim, but unlike Egypt which is definitely an African/Asian mashup of Middle Eastern culture, Turkey is mostly Western, for all that it lies in both Asia and Europe.
The median age of the almost 50/50 male/female population is young – only 28. Male literacy is around 95 percent, while female literacy is almost 20 percentage points below that. This fact reflects a lot of my experience in Turkey. In Egypt, I lived a harlem-like experience- my exposure was mostly to women, children and older married men. As a family, we didn’t go out that much at night – the only times I was out after dark involved carrying a 5 year old home.
In Istanbul, you don’t have to wait for the night to see signs of life, and you can sit out on the Bosporus and have a cup of coffee or a beer. But like Egypt, almost all public–facing positions – shopkeepers, waiters, bus drivers to bankers – are filled by males. It is a male dominated society, with over 60 percent of the economy driven by the service and industry sectors. So basically, anything you want to do, you have to interact with a male. And some of them can get quite pushy. Continue reading “Call Me Laura”