I wish you were here – we could have coffee together – you would love the setting. Jim and I are sitting on the rooftop of our hotel, the Blue Mosque to my right, the Bosphorus behind me, and the Sea of Marmara to my left, warmed by the sun and the shouts of school children next door.
I want you to meet Eveline – what a delight! Trained as a Cordon Blu chef in Paris, manager of hotels in New York and Paris, entrepreneur who founded and managed a hotel in Istanbul, and, after that, a Cooking School and Restaurant. Eveline is clearly a self-directed woman, unfettered by constraints that would have halted many. For me, this seems a lesson in itself. Robert Fritz- artist, composer, author (The Path of Least Resistance is one of his books) argues that one approach to changing deeply embedded habits or patterns of thought or behavior – – – is absolute commitment to truth. What he means by that is that every time we consider anything as a “given,” as “that’s the way life is,” we are taking a theory or assumption as an incontrovertible “truth.” AND, further, that those moments are profound clues that we need to examine that belief.
I asked Eveline how she had the courage or vision to do all of these things. She shrugged. “İ come from a high achieving family,” she said, “and, actually I was a concern to them because I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up – or rather – there were many things I wanted to do/be: an architect, a painter, a chef.” And, so, she began to create her life.
Composing her own life didn’t suggest that her life was easier than others. Far from it. When she came to Turkey, for example, she could not find a “decent job.” That is what led her to establishing her hotel. And, yes, being a foreigner is difficult she notes. You to not have the connections – and connections are very important! And you are more challenged to understand cultural realities, the many subtle nuances of life that are often invisible to one from outside the culture. İ think of the pitfalls of starting a business in my own culture – the unending requirements, the bureaucracy, the unforeseen hurdles – – managing this in a culture other than my own seems daunting indeed.
Eveline acknowledges that “trust” is a profound enigma. She has experienced the consequences of being deceived by those she trusted. And yet, she says, you get up, dust off and go on. You can’t do business without trust. Intuition is key she says. You have to learn to trust your own intuition – – – AND you always have to realize that you are taking a risk.
A vibrant, energetic, creative woman – it has been marvelous to get to know her a bit. I asked her what advice she would give to other young women, and – no surprise – she said, “I would tell them to ‘go for it,’ go after what they want, go do what they want to do.” And, she stressed, I would tell them to watch to balance their life. This is very important to her, something she struggles with at the moment. She works six days a week from early morning until late in the evening. Realizing that this is not satisfying long term, she will no doubt create changes that will give her more time to relax, to paint, to spend time with her partner. Meanwhile, if you are fortunate enough to visit Istanbul – – – treat yourself to a meal at the Alaturka Cooking School/Restaurant ! ! ! !
A quick note about our evening there. While you can make a reservation to simply come for lunch or dinner – by far more fun awaits when you reserve a place in one of the classes and get to prepare the meal yourself, under Eveline’s expert guidance. They usually have two classes each day – one from 10:30 – 2:00 and one from 4:30 – 8:30. We chose the latter and joined eight other folks in chopping parsley, slicing onions, peeling garlic, stuffing grape leaves, etc. The group itself was delightful – young folks (25 – 35). One couple was on a 4 and 1/2 month trip around the world, spending a week or two in various locations. Three had met up in Istanbul for vacation – two of them had worked together in Seattle, now one lives in San Francisco and the other in London and their friend is from Brazil. Two others work for Boeing in Washington DC and are on vacation.
And so it goes, this global dance.
With love to each of you,