Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Keyif is one of my most favorite Turkish words! If you look it up in any Turkish-English translation  website, you will see that it means joy... pleasure... merriment... delight... enchantment in English. BUT... I don't think any of these words do it justice at all!

As far as I am concerned, keyif  is not just a word - but rather a very "Turkish" lifestyle... In my opinion, there is no other culture that enjoys the pleasures of "keyif" more than Turks! I've always wanted to write an article on keyif, but it didn't fit the format of the magazine I worked at, but now that I have a blog... I can write about anything I want - of course without offending anyone and just having a good time by sharing my thoughts and opinions! let me give you some examples of keyif. The most common "keyif" activity that comes to Turks minds is having a relaxing "rakı/balık" keyif at a seafood restaurant or tavern. In brief, this means getting together with a bunch of friends for a relaxing and lingering evening of good cheer, conversation and food which includes Turkey's local drınk "rakı" accompanied with appetizers and/or fish. This is another article unto its own and will be addressed at some point in the future.

But, this is not the specific type of "keyif" I want to write about. Maybe what is "keyif" to me is a "given" for most local Turks, but after living abroad for over 30 years and then coming back to Istanbul, I look at it from a different perspective.

Here are my examples....

When I returned to Turkey, I started working at Koçbank (now part of Yapı Kredi Bank) as the Manager of Advertising & Public Relations (was promoted to Director later on). I was shocked at some of the differences in the corporate world here compared to NYC. First, I was shocked to find out that we had a person assigned to our floor who served us coffee, tea, etc. - on the bank's tab! Then, I was further surprised when I was handed a book of vouchers for a pre-set monthly amount to buy lunch with! My final shock was when I found out that the bank had complimentary transportation services to carry employees back and forth from work! Now, if this isn't "keyif" I don't know what is! In the USA, we never had perks like this at my company or any other company that I know of. Sure, if you are at a certain level, you got a company car and phone... but the perks I mentioned here are given to ALL employees! This is the norm at most of the companies in Istanbul. In fact, some companies go a step further... for example, some ad agencies have "game rooms" with billiards, etc where employees can relax - others have an in-house restaurant and cafe (like at the Vakko - major Turkish retailer -headquarters) for their employees, while others have in-house fitness rooms. Actually, the list goes on! I don't know if this is a common practice in Europe, but it definitely wasn't in NYC. We had to make our own coffee, wash our own cups, buy our own lunch and get back and forth to work on our own - with our own money! Another perk that all employees had at Koçbank was that we got 16 salaries/annually instead of 12! So, every 3 months, we got double salaries!

On the housing front, almost all housing complexes and apartment buildings have a janitor/superintendent. So what you say - this is common in the USA too. HOWEVER, the janitors in Istanbul will deliver your newspaper and fresh bread in the am AND... knock on your door once or twice daily asking if you need anything from the market - and I mean anything! Mine even goes to the pharmacy for me! Plus, this "service" is included in their salary, so you don't have to tip them. But, if you ask them to do other things - like pick up your dry cleaning, play lotto for you, etc. then a small tip is appropriate. Finally, just leave your trash out by your door in the evening and your friendly janitor will throw it out for you!

When you purchase white goods, furniture, etc... the delivery of your items is extremely fast! If you purchase an item in the morning - let's say a fridge.. you might even be lucky enough to have it delivered the very same afternoon or the latest the next day!!! And.. there is NO delivery charge and the delivery guys will install your fridge and throw out the boxes - again at no extra charge! Most furniture (except for IKEA - there is a delivery charge) and bedding companies offer the same swift and complimentary service.

You went to your local supermarket and did a lot of shopping. Your home is close by and you don't have a car. No problem, there are "baggers" at the market and besides bagging your purchases, for a minimal tip, they will carry your bags home for you!

Let's say you purchased a pair of pants and they are too long. No problem, most retailers offer free and quick tailoring services  (usually at most one day).

Need a taxi? No problem...just pick up the phone and call your local taxi stand and they will send a taxi to your home or office. Of course, during the peak hours, cars may be scarce, but if you are willing to wait, they will send you the next available car.

Is your faucet leaking or do you need some electrical work done? No problem here either! You don't have to wait days for someone to come AND more importantly the prices are quite reasonable and there is no extra "service charge" on top of the cost of the work being done.

So... what do you think - is this keyif or what! I LOVE the perks of living in Istanbul!

As a final note... the following are some of the keyif activities I enjoy doing...

   1) Entering the Istanbul Atatürk Airport from the THY (Turkish Airlines) CIP lines and the security guards are extra nice! Of course, you need to be flying business class!

   2) Being pampered by the wait staff at Lucca in Bebek and Kitchenette at Kanyon Shopping Mall. It pays to be a longstanding customer, but more importantly, these guys/gals offer the same service to all their customers.

   3) A dry martini with 3 olives at Mikla Terrace with a stupendous view of the old city and Bosphorus high atop the Marmara Pera Hotel in Tepebaşı - with Sabiha - the sommelier and manager of Mikla.

  4) A superbly prepared beef stroganoff and a glass of red wine at La Brise Brasserie prepared by Executive Chef Esen Hünal Blake.

  5) Waking up at the crack of dawn in a suite room at the Four Seasons Hotel on the Bosphorus and sitting in the bay window and watching the fishermen in their dingys bobbing along the Bosphorus strait.

  6) Watching the colors of the Bosphorus Bridge change from my living room and balcony in the evenings.

  7) Listening to Moby and the Pet Shop Boys on my ipod as I walk along the Bosphorus from Kuruçeşme to Rumelihısarı (about 4 kms) and then stopping at Mama for an espresso before walking back along the same route to Bebek.

  8) Being woken up everday at 8:15am (no matter what time I go  to bed) by my lovely new pup Luka with kisses who is jumping up and down with joy as he feels I have slept enough and now its time for our morning walk!

 9) Chowing down a cold slice of whole wheat pizza from Little Caesars and sipping Glenlivet on the rocks while watching reruns of Will & Grace on Digiturk.

So, what do you do for "keyif" - feel free to share your comments!


  1. Merhaba Vildancım, Blog un hayırlı olsun,çok güzel olmuş...Sevgiler,

  2. Merhaba Vildan Hn,

    Bu yazıyı okurken cok keyif aldım. Hemen arkadaşlarımla paylaşmak istiyorum. Bu arada blog'unuzda yer alan mekanları çok keyifli anlatıyorsunuz. Aralarından gitmediklerimi bir an önce görmek istiyorum.

  3. Çok teşekkürler Pınar'cım.. evet bir an önce denemeni öneririm.. çünkü sürekli yenileri ekleyeceğim :))