Turkish entertainment similar to American, with slight improvements

It started with the cluster of multicolored pinpricks in the distance spotted ecstatically during a bus ride to the airport.

A moving rainbow of vibrant blues, greens and yellows, a fluorescent curve rising above the parking lots and malls. A carnival.

Since that first sighting, I knew that I had to find my way onto a Turkish Ferris Wheel, one way or another. The quest proved to be difficult at times. (Googling “Istanbul carnival” brings up an overwhelming number of unhelpful links.) But in the end the toil was totally worth it. As my friends and I marched triumphantly through the opening arch up to the ticket window, my eyes lit up like I was 7 years old.

I fancy myself something of a carnival connoisseur — living for that perfect combination of twinkle lights, spinning rides and creepy attendants. I have to admit, though, that this carnival experience was even sillier and more borderline-terrifying than the usual.

It was 8:30 p.m. on a random Sunday in late November, and the place was still open despite the fact that my group comprised about 90 percent of the people there. The rides only cost the lira-equivalent of $1.50 (suck it, GreatNew YorkState Fair), and you could tell no money had gone toward improving the safety of the giant machines. There is no feeling more exhilarating than almost flying out of an enormous, empty swinging pirate ship as it soars up and up until it’s nearly perpendicular to the ground.

We rode bumper cars, went on the Ferris Wheel, ballerina spun and then Gangnam-styled with another small group of teens that was there. The night ended with a photograph with one of the grinning, greasy ride operators.

The magical winter, nighttime carnival isn’t the only example of Turkish entertainment that is different from its American equivalent. This week, I went to the theater to see “Argo.” Going in, I didn’t expect a cinema experience to be any different.

Start the music and cut a movie montage of unexpected wonders: spacious, comfy loveseat couches instead of individual seats; smiling acceptance of moviegoers bringing outside snacks or meals; and a 15-minute intermission to ensure drinking your large Starbucks coffee doesn’t cause you to miss any of the action. Oh, and the ticket only cost about $5. I think I’ve found my new favorite weeknight activity (if only more movies besides freaking “Twilight” played in English).

Another activity that’s better in Turkey is attending soccer — or futbol — games.  Although the food selection paled in comparison to what is offered at most U.S.stadiums and beer was nonexistent — not just overpriced — the sheer level of fan enthusiasm was incredible. The reason Turkish futbol stadiums can’t sell alcohol is because the fans are already too rowdy without continued inebriation  For the entire 90-minute match, theIstanbulequivalent of the ’Cuse student section did not stop hopping, chanting and clapping its hands.

Flares were lit in the middle of the stand, and riot policemen were on guard. But the game I went to was neither a win nor a loss, so their shields and pepper spray weren’t necessary. I’m not generally a fan of paying money to watch sports. But before the game even ended, I found myself planning out evenings I would have to leave free to go to my next game. Turkish futbol game experience, you earn an A+.

My friend is now trying to convince me to go bowling with her this week. Honestly, I find it hard to believe that anyone can make wearing ugly, uncomfortable shoes while sliding heavy balls into the gutter over and over again fun, but hey, if anyone can do it, it’s the Turks.

Jillian D’Onfro is a senior magazine journalism and information management and technology dual major. Her column appears every Tuesday. She can be reached at jidonfro@syr.edu.


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