A country full of Eastern promise
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A country full of Eastern promise

Watching the current Euro football championships has served as a reminder that the official name of the country known to most of us as Turkey, is now Turkiye, pronounced "Turkiya". This name was approved by the UN in 2022. The change was believed to have been made partly to disassociate the country from the large bird of the same name and other negative interpretations of the word "turkey". You can understand why Turks could be irritated by silly newspaper football headlines such as "England roast Turkey".

As a kid I was always vulnerable to the tasty Fry's Turkish Delight, a blob of gel which we were told was "Full of Eastern Promise". During my teenage years I admit to being influenced by the stylish television ad which featured a slinky maiden rolling about on a Turkish carpet, offering her sweeties. It turned out later that the model was anything but "Eastern" and was actually the daughter of a Yorkshire miller from West Riding. It was still a good ad, though.

Little did I know then that in a few years I would be trundling across Turkey aboard an old bus on an overland journey from London to New Delhi. Crossing the border from Bulgaria into Turkey proved to be one of the more memorable moments of that trip in 1969.

It was my first taste of Asia (apart from Turkish Delight) and you could feel the changes as our old bus left Europe behind and rattled its way towards the extraordinary city of Istanbul. Everything was different with mosques replacing churches, smells getting increasingly exotic and food that was an adventure for my bland taste buds. Welcome to Asia.

There's always Torquay

Discussing the pronunciation of Turkey sparks memories of a female Japanese tourist, Kumiko Tsuschida, who was in London and wanted to get to Turkey. Her English wasn't too hot but at least she knew how to say "Turkey". At Waterloo station she met some helpful Londoners who bought her tickets and put her on the right train… or so they thought.

After a long rail journey the train inspector informed Ms Kumiko she had reached her destination. What she didn't know was that she had arrived at the Devon resort of Torquay which to English ears sounds very similar to Turkey. Apparently believing she was now actually in Turkey she set off looking for her Istanbul hotel. She began to suspect something was wrong when no shops would accept her Turkish banknotes.

Eventually, looking totally lost, she was thankfully picked up by police. "She even thought she had been through the Channel tunnel," said one policeman.

Ms Kumiko explained later: "I thought it was a long way to the airport, but when I asked passengers 'Turkey?' 'Turkey?' they all said I was on the right train".

Bangkok oasis

It was encouraging to read this week the authorities vowing to preserve the "Green Lung of Bangkok" that unique oasis of greenery in Bang Kachao just across the Chao Phraya River from Klong Toey. For many years it was Bangkok's best kept secret and has somehow escaped major development.

I recall walking around Bang Kachao in 1979 with colleague Tony Waltham. It was full of orchards and a pleasant contrast to the concrete jungle across the river. While strolling through one orchard we passed a family sitting outside their modest house. They could have told us to "buzz off" because we were on their land but instead they invited us to join them. We were about to enjoy true Bang Kachao hospitality.

Fruitful meeting

Our enquiries as to what fruit a certain tree bore prompted one of the kids to scurry off and return with armfuls of chompoo (rose apples) for us to consume. Within a flash the father had climbed a tree and was tossing mangoes down to us. Then granny appeared and berated the family for only giving us plain water and not coconut milk to quench our thirst. This was a cue for coconuts to come tumbling down from the palms.

Some hours later we staggered off with enough fruit to open our own stall and an invitation to return a couple of weeks later for celebrations for one of the sons entering the monkhood.

And return we did. It was a memorable experience although the wicked home-made pineapple wine clouded my recollections of the party somewhat. It was an evening of wining, dining and dancing in a small clearing in the orchard. It must have been fun because I ended up dancing with granny.

There was a Thai band whose enthusiasm made up for any musical limitations. They repeatedly belted out "My Sharona" which was a big hit at the time and another golden oldie "Ring My Bell". Remember them?

Apt or not

Recent columns have featured the word "aptonym" involving people's names which are appropriate for their line of work. I should point out that a similar word "aptronym", with an "r" has the same meaning. So you can make your choice which spelling is preferable. While on that subject thanks to a reader for informing us that she once had a therapist called Dr Fears.

Which brings us to film producer Sam Goldwyn who famously remarked: "Anyone who goes to see a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined".

Contact PostScript via email at oldcrutch@hotmail.com

Roger Crutchley

Bangkok Post columnist

A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.

Email : oldcrutch@gmail.com

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