A big fat Indian wedding, a masala dosa and sightseeing made a Rotary International’s Friendship Exchange Programme special for Turkish guests Sibel Akkon and her husband Ismail and Selcuk and Berna Aslan . “It’s difficult to understand the nuances staying at a hotel. Staying with the locals is not only a great way to understand their culture but also make new friends,” said Sibel. The two couples are on a 12-day tour of Andhra Pradesh.
Besides connecting people from different parts of the world, the exchange programme also aims to promote tourism in less popular parts of the country. Apart from exploring Visakhapatnam , the visitors will visit Rajahmundry and Vijayawada. The Turks will be hosted by the Rotary members in the respective cities.
For Sibel and Ismail, from Izmir, this is their third visit to India. Back home they too have hosted several guests from different countries.
For the younger Selcuk and Berna from Canakkale, , they wanted their Indian trip to be about exploring Indian cuisine. Said Berna, “We had masala dosa for breakfast! It is an interesting stuffing of potatoes and onions – a combination which don’t use in our dishes back home. I look forward to making dosas when Ireturn.” The Turks were hosted by Vibha and Amit Agrawal, and PM Vidyasagar and Rama Devi.
Sibel Akkol with school children in Vizianagaram
They drove to Vizianagaram where they explored the Rama Narayanam Temple and interacted with students at a government school. One of the kids requested Sibel to sing because he was curious to know what Turkish sounded like. Sibel sang ‘Üsküdar’a gider iken’, a Turkish love song. The experience said Sibel reiterated the strong belief that despite differences people are the same everywhere.
The couples enjoyed another quintessential Indian experience – a wedding!
They were floored by the competitive spirit and enthusiasm at the sangeet ceremony. “Our weddings usually have an open dance floor,” said Ismail.