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Ronita Torcato


A little chit, a little chat, a little bit of this & that;meaning news, views & lotsa reviews from an independent journo based in Bombay aka Mumbai


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Turkey's celluloid connections


Did you know  the wooden horse from the 2004 film Troy, is preserved on the seafront at Çanakkale, Turkey?   ( The Trojan Horse was a wooden contraption  in which Greek soldiers hid to trick  the Trojans into opening their city gates, thus losing their long drawn out war. Helen,wife of King Menelaus of Sparta was "given" by the goddess Aphrodite  to Paris, who  was married and deeply in love with a nymph named Oenone, but left her for Helen. The Spartan queen eloped with the Trojan prince after being convinced by the goddess abandon  her husband .)
I knew about the Helen of Troy from Greek myth and the movies and learnt about the movie horse at Canakkale from a representative  of the  Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism at the Mumbai roadshow organised by the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) and the Turkish India Tourism Council (TITC)  

Turkey was showcased by 18 representatives of the Turkish travel trade comprising  DMCs, hotels, travel and tour operators, and the national carrier Turkish Airlines. Interestingly, the Guest of Honour at the event was Mr Genet Teshome, the Ethiopian Consul General in Mumbai.

The event was part of a five-city roadshow which included Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad.  TITC and TT is also drawing up  a specialised training program for the Indian travel trade which will take off next January. Designed for frontline staff of agencies and tour operators, the two day workshop  will be conducted in  Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Kochi and Ahmedabad.

We also learnt that  Turkey has just introduced a Visa-on-Arrival facility for US/Europe bound Indians who can avail of the travel document in Istanbul by paying 15 Euro or USD 20 . The 30 day Visa  will issued to Indians holding a valid US, UK and Schengen Visas.
Currently,travellers can fly into the capital Istanbul and proceed from there to such other places of interest as Cappadoccia,Marnara,Izmit.Konya,Ankara and Çanakkale.
I'd like to go to visit Turkey someday, especially the Hagia Sophia (circa 6th century)  Christendom's greatest Byzantine church for almost  nine centuries and used as a mosque for almost five hundred years after 1453  and subsequently, in 1935 to be precise, designated a museum by the great  Kemal Ataturk. I would like to visit too the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, near Selcuk in the Aegean city of Izmir (ancient Smyrna)
Mary, the mother of Jesus is said to have spent her last years in Ephesus. According to tradition, Mother Mary was brought here by St John the Evangelist  who was  buried on Ayosolug Hill.  St John wrote the fourth Gospel in Ephesus ( and the Book of Revelation on the Greek Island of  Patmos in 96 AD.)    A  small chapel was constructed over his  grave  in the 4th century. The church of St John was upgraded to a monumental basilica during the region of Emperor Justinian (527 -565 AD). In the 14th century, the chapel was used as a mosque, much in the manner of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem . The Basilica was gravely  damaged by a large earthquake in the same century.

Paul VI who visited India in 1964  was the first pope to visit the shrine  of Mary in Turkey  the 1960's. In the 1980's, during his visit, Pope John-Paul II declared the Shrine as a pilgrim place for Christians.  In  Rome,  aTurk called Mehmet Ali Agca would try to kill John Paul who forgave him. Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at the shrine on  Wednesday Nov. 29, 2006
Interestingly, Mount Zion in Jerusalem is the place where the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, is said to have fallen asleep for the last time, just before she was assumed  into Heaven. The Dormition Abbey  in Jerusalem was completed by Kaiser Wilhelm II between 1906 and 1910, on land given to him by the Turkish Sultan Chamid as a gift.

In 1978, Midnight Express, British director Alan Parker's adaptation of American college student  Billy Hayes'  prison ordeal in Turkey affected the Turkish tourist industry .After serving nearly  five years in Sağmalcılar prison and about to be set free, Billy was demoralised when the Turkish courts decided he was a drug smuggler, not just a tourist caught for possession of hashish, and upped his nearly-served sentence to life in prison.
Hayes escaped by boat ( not the way you see in the film whose screenplay was written by Oliver Stone.) Hayes has gone on record as saying that his  problem with the controversial  film is that "it created this overall impression that all Turks are like that" (meaning bad )

Stone's script majorly revised  Hayes' account.
As Hayes told NGC's Locked Up Abroad, "Things like the courtroom scene, after the sentencing where they've got me (or Brad) saying "This is a nation of pigs and I f*** you all. And I f*** your mothers." The Turks hated that scene and rightfully so. What I actually said (which is in the Turkish records and in my book) was something about "You know, I've been in your jail for four years now. And if you're going to send me to more prison, I can't agree with you. All I can do is forgive you." That is what I said. That's the diametric opposite of what was said in the film."
As we know, film adaptations are rarely faithful to  the  original source. In other words, inaccuracies and stereotypes are par for the course. Which doesn't mean one has to put up and shut up.

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About Ronita Torcato

Torcato Agnela Ronita
An incomplete round-up of movie news, features & views from an independent journo & (dare I say it:-) film critic in Mumbai

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