Avoiding A Cultural Boob

  • WARNING: This blog contains reference to bare boobs. Look away now if you’re likely to be offended.

As one of our major clients is sponsor of the McLaren Formula 1 team, we’re required to watch each Grand Prix and submit a report on the race for the following day.

If I’m honest, as we’re both big fans anyway, it’s hardly a chore; indeed, the relationship has even secured us ringside seats at a couple of car launches – although not at the races themselves (yet).

But, with temperatures on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast forecast to reach 43C last Sunday I have to admit a pool was a vital addition to our usual pre-race preparations.

We duly arrived pool-side in time for a quick dip before it all kicked off in Belgium … and what a race! But, as I lifted my eyes from a screen I’d been glued to for a couple of hours, I was greeted with a sight which shocked me more than the shenanigans between Hamilton and Rosberg.

The lady in her sixties who had introduced herself to us as “Judith” was floating face-up and topless on a lilo, arms spread like a crucifix paddling herself around the pool gently with her hands.

Now I’m no prude. If you have the confidence in your body – or if you just don’t care what other people think – and it’s accepted practice, then why not?

The thing is, this isn’t the south of France. This is Turkey and it’s a Muslim country. There are mosques everywhere, the call to prayer echoes over our village five times a day. The older, more conservative women still wear head scarves and long ankle-length skirts, even in the height of summer. They’re still getting used to seeing girls in T-shirts and jeans.

I have absolutely no idea what Judith’s justification for whipping her top off might have been. After all, I wasn’t about to start an argument with a half-naked lady on an inflatable mattress (although I think I probably went a bit British and tutted quietly).

But I have to say I found her apparent insensitively to the customs and traditions of her host nation surprising – particularly in light of her claim to have visited “lots of times” before.

There are bound to be a few thinking I’m making a mountain out of a molehill here. Indeed, it’s something we’ve already seen polarise opinion on social media forums.

But I can’t help wondering how many in the “I’ll do what I want; it’s my holiday” camp would challenge immigrants in Britain for wearing the burqa or accuse young Turkish men of treating British women with no respect.

Yes, parts of Turkey have been “Westernised”, most locals speak English, they love banter with holidaymakers and happily barter with you in the shops and markets; they’re open, friendly and hugely accommodating.

But beneath it all, there is still a culture very different to our own – and that ought to be respected.

SP

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