The Frequent Flyer


Welcome back! My website was malfunctioning for a while, and we have resuscitated it, thanks to my excellent webmaster Cem.

We are starting a new style here, of writing some ‘blog pieces’… Let’s see how it will go!

So how is life? ‘Çok şükür’… Thank God.. Gottseidank. We are alive. The climate is changing, Greta the Climate Action Kid is leading the world and we are following avidly. She is not taking planes, to reduce her carbon footprint, as we hear. To be commended! As for myself, I am afraid I have been guilty in this respect, flying quite frequently. The Frequent Flyer. Turkish Airlines, Globally Yours, has been quite good to me in this regard. A brand we can be proud of. A rarity these days! But there it is, its faults aside, this is the airline that flies to most places in the world. I love how the world is connected, for better or worse. It is also the story of our lives, starting with my family, as we were diplomatic nomads, from the seventies to the naughties. 

Nowadays, I have a very international job, one of the two ‘main jobs’ that I have focused on in the past few years as an independent consultant. Two jobs that are both very voluntary and philanthropic in nature, not full of much pay but full of other kinds of rewards. It is a privilege to get emotional satisfaction out of your work. The very international job involves keeping up with “those who are saving the world”, i.e. the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, and how culture, specifically cultural heritage, can figure in this (- the way it needs to!). Working with ICOMOS, the global NGO for cultural heritage, has given me the opportunity to network with the whole world, peer-learning among the best. While this job is so global, and macro, the other job is that much more local, and micro. Site management in an Anatolian Silk Road town, by the name of Mudurnu. We had an adventure the past couple of years, trying to inscribe it on the UNESCO World Heritage List, as the best urban testimony to Akhism, the 800 year-old spiritual guild tradition of Anatolia and the Ottomans. We did not manage this year. Well, maybe it was a close call, and better this way. Someone coined the term ‘UNESCO-cide’, alluding to how this global brand is actually a killer, or a “victim of its own success”. While it is hard to give up on the UNESCO ideal and the allure of World Heritage, there is indeed much life outside, or beyond, this elite club of 1,000 or so sites. I am starting to believe that the more WH is permeating into the non-WH world, the better. It is a long, academic discussion; I’ll spare you. 😉 All this said, working at grassroots level makes you stay grounded and real, with many good stories and lessons to share. 

What else? Istanbul, that fantastic monster of a place where my home office is based, had historic elections this year. “Her Şey Çok Güzel Olacak!” (“Everything will be Fine!”) Respect, love and best wishes for success to Mr. Ekrem İmamoğlu, the new metropolitan mayor of Istanbul. This is the good news. The bad news? Turkey is under siege, of rampant resource extraction permits in the most valuable, beautiful natural areas. The legendary Mount Ida, or Kaz Dağları, is under attack by a gold mining company from Canada. Our country is not run well these days, from the perspective of how such abuse of our environmental, social, cultural rights is condoned so widely. Our former Goodwill Ambassador to UNESCO, Mr. Zülfü Livaneli, has written a plea to UNESCO’s new Director-General Audrey Azouley, to raise awareness on this. I found it poignant. I don’t expect results from anywhere but the tough, fighting spirit of grassroots organizations of our country. The Young Turks live on…

Now it is Bayram, or Eid Al Adha, around the world. The ‘Muslim Christmas’. (You have to put it this way for some Christian friends to get it.  😉 ) While wishing that one day we shall stop slaughtering poor animals to do charity work for this Bayram, it is nice to reunite with family and take some time out. Enjoy your Bayram, or August holidays, if you have them, wherever you are!