Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

150,000 children had never seen a sea

If I hadn’t been in Berlin for a business trip on April 23, Children’s Day, I most certainly would’ve attended in an event by the Clean Sea Association, or Turmepa. I’ve been following their activities for years.

Turmepa this time took about 3,000 children for a boat trip Ğ the children that live in Istanbul yet have never seen the sea. I wish I could be with them when they see the blue of the sea for the first time and witness their excitement all over their faces.

Turmepa launched the project "Unlimited Blue" in 2007 with school-age children. Since then, they have gathered 150,000 children who have never seen a sea. This is the result obtained from various printed tests the association sent to some schools. The project will be completed by 2012. Since high schools are not covered, the figure is possibly greater.

Gastronomic losses
Turmepa President Levent Ballar says that if the families of 150,000 children are included there are approximately 2-3 million people living in Istanbul yet have never seen the sea. Millions of people in Istanbul see the sea through televisions only. But Istanbul first of all means "sea"; the only city in the world divided into two by a sea. Is it possible to name people who have never seen the sea as "Istanbulite"?

The "Old and New Istanbulites" symposium by the Ottoman Bank Museum I attended recently was quite useful in terms of shedding light on this dilemma Istanbul faces today. Migration to Istanbul has geared up since the 1950s, and the population of the city has grown 12-fold since then. The style of living, the social and cultural structure, and the faces of neighborhoods have quickly changed in Istanbul, which itself has transformed into one of the biggest metropolitan cities in Europe.

Now, the number of the old Istanbulites is gradually dropping. They are losing blood and voice against the new Istanbulites. As the elderly yearn for the good old days, the new generation is preoccupied with the thought "How we can conserve what is left from Istanbul?" According to one of the speakers at the symposium, Istanbul is also facing the danger of some gastronomic losses. For instance, according to the same speaker, some deli owners do not know what "lakerda" is, though it has been a traditional food since the Byzantine era.

The speaker was appalled by the question when one of them asked whether "lakerda" is cooked. Actually, it is pickled raw fish, usually tuna or swordfish, that is salted generously and kept salted at least two weeks. I come across young cab drivers who don’t know the most popular districts in Istanbul such as Perşembe Pazarı, Tarlabaşı or Tepebaşı.

Once, my friend famous author Buket Uzuner and I gave a hard test to a taxi driver. When he didn’t know any of the places we asked, Uzuner, as the author of a new release "Istanbulites," lashed out at him.

Deli owners, cab drivers Ğ what about reporters or journalists?

In the Skylife magazine of the Turkish Airlines I was horrified when I read an article. A journalist wrote something about the Prince Islands, known as the jewels of Marmara. But the article reflected so many mistakes and a lack of knowledge. For instance, this fellow journalist wrote something about "ornamented" houses and coaches in Kınalıada, which in reality there is never seen a coach in this island, saying that it looked the richest of the Prince Islands. On the contrary, Kınalıada is the most modest one among all.

"Ornamented houses," which all have timber adornments, are rather seen in Büyükada. Such sloppiness and lack of knowledge is unbearable. So I couldn’t read the article any further. People who have no interest in Istanbul and people who live in this city yet unwilling to catch the spirit here are not Istanbulites, in my opinion.