Do I Really Look Turkish?

American friends often comment, “You must really stand out in Istanbul.”  Actually, I don’t.  When I came here as a tourist, everyone spoke to me in English and I assumed that it was obvious from my appearance that I am foreign.  Once I started living here and knew my way around, that changed.  As long as I don’t do anything too blatantly foreign, like carry a backpack, wear sandals or walk around with wet hair, people assume that I am a local.  Turks approach me all the time and ask me for directions, try to hand me political pamphlets or make off-handed comments about the rude person in front of us in line. It turns out that I look Turkish, or at least can pass as Turkish.  Of course, once I open my mouth the illusion is ruined.  It turns out that there is a lot of variety in people’s appearance here, especially in Istanbul.  Some have light hair, even red hair, and many many more dye their hair.  A surprising number have “colored eyes.”  I lived in Japan and Thailand and have traveled throughout Asia, places where I would NEVER be mistaken for a local. So I really appreciate having the best of both worlds.  I get the advantages of being of foreigner, but I can walk down the street without attracting too much attention.