Prepping For Today Show Interview With Matt Lauer

Excerpt from NBC Today Show interview prep, April 2008.

YOU'VE LIVED HERE 5 YEARS AND YOU ARE FROM NORTHERN CALIFORNIA...WHEN YOUR FRIENDS COME TO VISIT..WHAT IS THE THING THAT THEY MOST OFTEN ASKED YOU ABOUT LIVING HERE?

They wonder if I’ll ever return to America! I will, but in the meantime I'll be enjoying the Turkish quality of life... like the 5 pounds of organic produce delivered to my door every week for $25, a tailor down the block ready to rework the most trifling thing and if I want to while away the afternoon at a leafy cafe I know the waiter won't be rushing me to make way for new customers. Turks believe life is to be savored. My New York friends always want to know about real estate and are amazed to learn how affordable my cliffside apartment is, with its panoramic Bosphorus view.  Unusual for most big cities.... My friends also wonder how I  survive Istanbul's #1 downside -- Congestion. Sometimes it takes hours to cross this sprawling, hilly town.  The Bosphorus was the main drag for centuries and the water still seems the fastest way to get around.

FROM MY RESEARCH IT APPEARS THAT TURKEY HAS DONE A REALLY GOOD JOB MAINTAINING IT'S CULTURE AND TRADITIONS...WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THAT TO?

Turks are an ethnically diverse people – you know they originally came on horseback from Asia, and then Ottoman empire once spanned three quarters of the Mediterranean, mixing with all those cultures and people for 600 years. They're adaptable, but even so Turkish trsdition has very deep roots and seems almost imprinted in their genes. You'll see people from every walk of life sharing the same customs on a daily basis. Like the blue glass evil eye to ward off bad luck, which is an echo of their days of shamanism, before they adopted Islam. They wear it as jewelry, decorate their homes, offices, and cars, even on their cellphones they'll stick a small evil eye as if to say, hey no bad news will come thru this phone. Over time they've kept the beliefs that work for them.

WHAT WOULD AMERICANS BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT TURKISH PEOPLE?

Turks have a great sense of humor. This is helpful to know since they are also very inquisitive – you might say even nosey -- and may ask a question Americans feel is personal, like ‘Is this your natural hair color?  You can deflect an impertinent question with one of your own, or an obvious joke. Smile broadly and it won't matter if they don't understand the punchline. Being jovial is also a smart bargaining technique. A vendor will agree to a better price if you're playful.