CUSTOMS & ETIQUETTE
Turks value hospitality and will frequently go out of their way to welcome travelers, commonly offering to buy visitors a meal or a cup of çay (tea). Do not refuse tea unless you have very strong objections; it provides a friendly, easy way to converse with locals. If you are invited to a Turkish house as a guest, it is customary to bring a small gift such as flowers or chocolates and to remove your shoes before entering. A pair of slippers will usually be provided. When chatting with Turks, do not speak with any disrespect or skepticism about Atatürk, founder of modem Turkey, and avoid other sensitive subjects. In particular, do not discuss the Kurdish issue, the PKK, Northern Cyprus, or Turkey’s human rights record.
In Turkey, body language often matters as much as the spoken word. When a Turk raises his chin and clicks his tongue, he means hayır (no); this gesture is sometimes accompanied by a shutting of the eyes or the raising of eyebrows. A sideways shake of the head means anlamadım (I don’t understand), and evet (yes) may be signalled by a sharp downward nod. If a Turk waves a hand up and down at you, palm toward the ground, she is signaling you to come, not bidding you farewell. In Turkey the idle habit of snapping the fingers of one hand and then slapping the top of the other fist is considered obscene. It is also considered rude to point your finger or the sole of your shoe toward someone. Though public displays of affection by couples arc inappropriate, Turks of both sexes greet each other with a kiss on both cheeks, and often touch or hug one another during conversation. They also tend to stand close to one another when talking.
Turks often stare at one another more than visitors are used to, and women in particular may feel uncomfortable by the stares. Try not, to feel threatened by the usually harmless interest. Smiling, regarded in the West as a sign of confidence and outgoing friendliness, is sometimes associated in Turkey with a lack of sincerity or an element of deception. Often, what might appear to be grimness in some Turks may be a mistranslation of an everyday interaction or gesture.