A friend of mine stepped off a plane on hot tarmac, her head swirling with worries. Mostly just the typical concerns of a workaholic – whether quality would decline and deadlines would be met without her; a little about the forthcoming break – if the hotel would be good and the weather fine. Life is full of pointless worries; ironically, matters actually worth sleepless nights and eaten nails, usually come when least expected. One just doesn’t assume the chance of a riot when booking a relaxing weekend in a country best known for its all-inclusives.
Much has been written about the recent events in Turkey; undoubtedly much more will be in weeks, months and years to come. I am in all senses foreign to the affair: I don’t know whether, in historic perspective, Prime Minister Erdogan is good for his country and whether he would make a good caliph. I don’t know much about his opponents either. As a foreigner, with no skin in the game and shallow knowledge based on a few months’ worth of media coverage, it seems inappropriate to publicly pass judgment. I do, however, happen to have a heartwarming story and a useful tip.
The most exotic souvenir my friend brought back from sunny Turkey was the knowledge of how to minimise the impact of tear gas when accidentally exposed to it (as a tourist, not a front-line guerrilla). Allegedly, lemon juice and milk (individually, not in a mix) help a lot – these simple grocery products can turn a light scarf into a fashionable gas mask. So when the streets grew loud, shots were fired, people were hurt and thick white clouds crawled through old streets, lemons became both the tools of resistance and symbols of civic solidarity. Concierges were to be seen running into the streets, clutching baskets of lemons in both hands until hotels had depleted their stocks of the surprisingly versatile citrus fruit. I like to think they acted on their own initiative; random, altruistic acts of human kindness give hope for a brighter tomorrow.