In a country like Turkey there are plenty of conspiracy theories. Just about every person in the street has at least one they fervently believe. Today, however, I’d like to tell you that I have fallen victim to a 100% genuine conspiracy at the hands of some nefarious yet innocent looking people here in Istanbul. It didn’t happen to me on the proverbial “bridge between east and west” but on the very real bridge between Karaköy and Eminönü, a.k.a The new Galata Bridge. What happened? Well, I can only tell you that I was minding my own business, wondering about the future of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s republic when I fell prey to the twisted words of a white-shirted, black trousered man, saying, “Cold beer! Cold beer! 5TL! Yes, my friend?”
Yes, I thought I was stronger and better than that, I thought I was prepared for the wiles of the most wily sales pitches. But no, my friends, I was bedazzled by the promise of golden nectar on the Golden Horn. Before I understood what was afoot, I drank not one, but two cold beers. Worse, to my abiding shame, I think I even enjoyed the experience. This is not uncommon. According to my source—whose identity I must obscure (pictured below in profile to protect his identity ) who will remain known only as, “cigarette smoking man”—it seems that in order to pay the 16,000 TL (approximately $9000 US) monthly lease on this restaurant space under the bridge, restaurant employees are willing to hurl themselves in your path and encourage you to consume draft beer at dangerously low prices. Fortunately, there are strong-willed people, both Turks and foreigners who can resist and fight their way to a growing number of muessesemiz alkolsüzdür (alcohol-free establishments) on the southwest corner of the bridge, where such distastefully tasty beverages are not served, let alone tolerated under the burning afternoon sun. Too bad these paragons of virtue weren’t able to intervene before the recent paint job on the bridge was completed. It looks like more than one member of the crew succumbed to the lure of 5TL beer.
If you’ve also been harmed by the beer conspiracy, please feel free to contact me in full confidence and share your story. I’m told that the moderately Islamic, highly progressive government currently in charge is actively encouraging more alcohol-free businesses in order to protect me from myself. I was truly relieved when they blocked beer sales at a recent Pulp festival concert where I might have had a tin or two of mediocre beer and injured somebody by singing off-key to Common People. After all it was on a university campus. It’s a relief to know that the next generation of adults are protected from actually exercising their personal judgment, thinking for themselves, or being trusted to behave like responsible adults.