Thursday, November 10, 2011

Declaration of the Republic day parade

I should have posted the second half of our Declaration of the Republic day a week ago but alas, the five-day bayram holiday got in the way.

We left Eminonu by ferry at sunset and landed about 35 minutes later on the Asian side at the historic Haydarpasa train station whose roof was unfortunately damaged in a fire almost a year ago. According to the Daily Mail, the station was built in 1908 by the Germans as part of their Berlin to Baghdad train line. I was pretty excited to step foot inside as we were under the mistaken impression that the station had been a setting used in the second James Bond film, From Russia With Love. (Alas, I lated figured out totally by chance that they'd really used the Sirkeci Station in Eminonu whose train platform design is identical.)

We took the train a couple of stops where our friends picked us up and then we headed to Bagdat Street. All of the official Declaration Day events were supposed to have been cancelled out of respect for the Van earthquake victims but Cagatay was convinced the annual parade on Bagdat Street would still take place - and he was right. There were THOUSANDS of people packed into the street, carrying flags and wearing red. When we got there, the parade hadn't started but by chance there was a large TV set up on the corner we were at and it was playing videos of Ataturk and songs. The Declaration of the Republic commemorates October 29, 1923, after Mustafa Kemal (who later became "Ataturk" or "Father Turk") managed to eject the foreign powers occuping Turkey following a loss in World World I.

Obviously all of this didn't mean that much to me but Cagatay, Emir and Idil said that they felt genuinely emotional that night. Having said that, it was still really interesting and in some ways, I was really surprised by the absolute outpouring of patriotism that was about nothing more or less than the secular republic.

We walked a little while with the parade and then split up; Emir and Idil kept going while Cagatay and I went for dinner at a nearby gourmet burger place. Yum! Pin It

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