As the guys are totally exhausted after a Haniballian experience in
the mountains it is my pleasure to write the blog tonight.
The post war boom in Turkey’s economy has to a considerable extent been the result of the farsightedness of several Istanbul business dynasties
and Ramhi Koc and his Son Mustapha Koc own and manage much of the car construction, white goods and petrol chemical industries from their basein Istanbul. John has know them for a few years and liked them, as creative, warm and hugely energetic individuals. John emailed him to say that themotorbike gang were in town . He got invited to dinner and since all theothers in the bike group had their wives/ partners in town John suggestedI joined him as his date(!!) I was now another singleton.
Initially we were to dine on the family yacht but even for this monster
craft the weather in the Bosphorus was a bit rough and so Mustapha and
his wife Caroline held a dinner party at the house to welcome John , a
few of their close friends and family. We were picked up by limo from
our hotel after John had raced back across town from the BMW garage
having had his blown clutch replaced for the price of a new Genoa. We
were a bit late and the limo driver gave us our second hair-raising run
across the city in the rush hour charging up one way streets the wrong
way and driving at terrifying speeds . After one and half hours we
turned off the south beach road on the Bosphorus, through a set of
massive gates opened by a set of dark suited musclemen looking like they
were moonlighting from the CIA. We travelled up a winding drive and into
a beautiful circular drive way to have all the doors of the limo
wrenched open by a further set of minders who whisked us towards the
house, up marble stairways and past fountains.
Oncemore further squadrons of Mediterranean men took our anoraks(!!!!) anescorted us upstairs to a sumptuous drawing room. (I counted at least 5
settees ) . We were introduced to Mustapha and his wife and in turn to
brothers and sisters plus their spouses. Everyone spoke immaculate
English. Mustapha and his wife had just got off a flight from the US but
despite this were incredibly warm and interested in our trip. His bother
in law Serti was also crazy about bikes and offered John his own BMW
should the repairs not hold.
We were of course offered drinkies, John and I chose red wine and were
given a large glass the size of a bucket with about £500 worth of
Chateau de Wotnot in each, plus quaint little custom -we had to hold
these enormous glasses with a small napkin- I initially pocketed mine
until I noticed that everyone else wasn’t touching their glass but had
insulated them with their little white napkin- so I whipped my crumpled
square out of my pocket and followed suit
I chatted to Sula, the very beautiful wife to Serti, she had of course
lived in LA, New York and New Jersey- Naturally she ran her own white
goods business with her father and looked after her 18 month old son
while her hubby runs most of the petrol chemical industry in Turkey not
run by Mustapha.
Mustapha is about 45 and weighs in about 20 stone-a big guy and kept on
putting his arms around John and throwing him up in the air- so very glad
to see him again. He was very warm and very amusing and even with a strong and guttural Turkish accent he managed to interject a number of wonderful profanitiesinto his boisterous discussions. He is crazy about diving and photographing leopards- he has done about a thousand of each. In fact hehas published his own book on the African wildlife he has snapped andwas happy to tell John and I that a leather bound copy would bearriving for both of us in London soon.
The House was in the grand Ottoman style, wood and stone , shielded
from the rest of the world and the Bosphorus by two huge Mangolia
Grandiflorae . The house inside was lined with beautiful white painted
panelling plus arched windows like the palaces in Venice. The walls were
painted in dark greens and reds/plums;every spare space of wall had an
original painting , many portraits of sultans , relatives etc. And , of
course, Persian carpets the size of tennis courts.
After a while we were formally called to dinner in a room with a massive
mahogany table that could land an F16 . Caroline , Mustapha’s wife had
got the placement all sorted and we were wafted to our places. I think I
was surrounded by about 6 beautiful women between the ages of 20
and 35, their faces engaging lit up by the massive array of silver at
each table place. It was straight from the set for dinner at Downton
Abbey . Caroline had recently returned from Xian where she had acquired
about 25 midget terracotta warriors who had lost their arms -poor things –
so she had artfully secured them to a beautiful 1000 year old Chinese
buffet( rather like ours Susan) with iron stirrups.
Anyway, appreciating that if my mother were a fly on the wall she would
now be thinking that everything she had taught me about decorum and
manners, with luck, could now finally come into its own. I thought I had started well by declining a second bucket of absolutely fantastic claret in order not to fall face down into my starter.
I tried to listen to the beautiful and interesting Sula on my right but was slightly distracted as every time she said anything (about twice a sentence) she would pat me robustly on the shoulder or hand. I became somewhat nervous about this and looked acrosstowards her husband , another 18 stone of all male who engagingly
shouted across the table that we must all motor south to Bodrum and
immediately use his yacht to go game fishing; he clearly was used to his
wife affectionately slapping her dinner guests and saw no harm in it.
The wall across from me had another priceless Chinese buffet with 5
massive silver hunting cups which Caroline’s father has won horse racing,
above it a large and beautiful painting of cherries in bowls in a rather
Islamic style. Of course massive great chandelier plonked above the table.
We started off with a whole artichoke bored out and filled some gorgeous
Turkish tzatziki stuff , followed by osso bucco served in massive
silver trays. I was so intent on protecting myself from the
gesticulating Sula that I wasn’t quite ready for the surprise poke in the ribs
from the other side. I turned round quickly to check that my dinner
guest to the right didn’t have the same habit and clonked my nose on a
large silver tray being thrust between us by a flunky who was clearly fed
up with trying to attract my attention. All future offerings were
preceded by a sharp double tap just below my left scapula- I was by now
getting the hang of this.
Had a great time talking about sailing with Sula who of course has to
take a 120 foot gullet each summer for a 2 months to get out of the heat of
Istanbul. Mustapha overheard me trying to explain to Sula that we
preferred bareboat charter and said that I must be “f—– nuts -I
would have to wind a winch”. He also said that in his view in anything
under 80 foot the toilets always stank!! Well Janet I think you and he
would get on.!!
Next up another flunky scares the living daylights out of me by
actually inserting his mouth inside my external auditory meatus to ask
me whether I would like a brandy.; remembering a few boozy miltary doos
I had padded out in my fathers time I obligingly said yes and was
supplied with another £500 worth of armangnac and horrified to see that I
was the only person who had opted for a sticky. I took one sniff, and
nearly anaesthetised myself and decided to put it carefully to one side
so I would be fully compos to deal with further sallies from the beautiful and generous
Suffice it say it really was one of the poshest evenings I have ever
attended and I suppose I have to put it up there with my birthday tea
party at the Whitehouse with President Eisenhower.
Seriously though it was a great evening and I cannot have blotted my
copybook too much because everyone was very generous and kind plus
Mustapha gave me an enormous bear hug and slapped me hard on the back on
the way out the Limo which got us back to Central Istanbul in about
I hope that give a flavour of the experience