Coordinating Thanksgiving in Istanbul for 35 people requires a surprising amount of planning. Fortunately, the Planning Committee was up to the task and over the last three months, delegated tasks to other dependable committees, including the Menu Committee, the Entertainment Committee, the Decorating Committee, and the most vital committee, the Interfering Committee which was ably staffed by The Producer, Sammy and Mo.
Below, I will describe the activities of the different committees:
The Interfering Committee:
The Invitation Committee: The original intent of the evening was to reunite far flung members of the Baku Diaspora. Members came from Honduras, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and even America. The original guest list was capped at 20, but the quota was abandoned early on with the addition of some random Canadians, Brits, Turks and other Istanbullus. When the list hit 30, we said absolutely not one more person, since there were no more chairs.
But let's say you were in a smoky club the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, rocking out to Baghdad's only heavy metal band. You learn that not only are the young dudes in the band extremely nice and cute and English-speaking, they are also refugees. Wouldn't you invite them too? Of course you would, and you would find the extra chairs.
Acrassicauda, which is the Latin for a black scorpion that lives in the Iraqi desert, is subject of a recent documentary called Heavy Metal in Baghdad. The four dudes started the band after the fall of Saddam, but due to a variety of, uh, logistical obstacles including but not limited to a violent insurgency, had trouble finding venues to play and uh, places to live without getting killed. They joined the millions of Iraqi seeking refuge in Syria. Having failed, they are now in Istanbul, with no resources, trying to figure out where to go next. They were gracious and entertaining guests, and they got a lot of good advice about managing their band, producing videos, procuring groupies and touring America from people who may or may not have any experience in these areas.
The Decorating Committee: The Decorating Committee approached the Grand Bazaar with no preconceived notions about what appropriate Thanksgiving table decor looks like. After a marathon bargaining session, the stall owner relented on the price of 30 feet of table cloth material, largely to put an end to the acrimonious creative disputes that were driving other customers away from his shop. Additionally, Turkish tea glasses make excellent candle holders.
Our American meat products traveled Turkey via Incirlik AFB in eastern Turkey, then were trucked all the way back across the country to Istanbul. Our yams, turnips, cranberries and pumpkin pie mix came from various Safeways. Other than our Georgian and Lebanese wines, Azeri caviar and Iraqi refugees, our Thanksgiving dinner was indistinguishable from yours.