As Sally Potter travels around the world with 'YES'
she is keeping a diary exclusively for this web site
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On the way back to London as I look back over my short visit I am struck by the number of people who spoke to me about the insulting levels of ignorance of western visitors to Turkey. Do you all still have four wives? one French visitor asked recently. And a beautiful, grave, intelligent journalist described the disappointment in people’s faces when she told them she was Turkish when she was travelling abroad. They think we are a third world country, she says. And another reminds me that many aspects of civilisation as we know it began in this part of the world. But I am shocked when one charming young guide says, in an innocent voice, ‘We had to get rid of the Jews and the Armenians because they were too rich’. And many of the women walking through the streets look, to my eye, depressed and awkward in their long skirts and dowdy headscarves; though no more so – just differently – than the women in many American cities teetering in stilettos, their faces veiled and distorted by horrible cosmetic surgery.

In the micro-cosmic world of screenings of YES, however, I am struck again and again, not by the differences between people from different backgrounds but by the similarity of response. It seems we are all searching for meaning (whether in religion, science, or the arts), we all yearn to be heard, we all want love, and we are all grappling with the incomprehensible nature of the impermanence of our brief lives on earth.

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The Blue Mosque

Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated