The Dangers of Fresh Air

With the aversion Turks have to cool air, you would think that Turkey were a desert.  But no, the season’s here are “normal” by U.S. East Coast standards.  In Istanbul, winter is mostly cold and rainy but there is also some snow.  Most Turks believe that cool air will make them sick. In many cases, what they call “cold air” most American’s would call “fresh air.” Dangerous activities include sitting in front of a fan, regardless of how hot the weather is; opening a window to allow a breeze to enter when exercising; and going into an air conditioned area when hot and sweaty. In the fall you will see little kids all bundled up in winter coats when it is 70 degrees out.  My foreign friends with children have ongoing battles over this with their Turkish mother-in-laws, teachers, and other well-meaning members of the community. Some friends have resorted to saying that although Turkish children get sick from cold air, half-foreign children do not. Remarkably, people actually accept this explanation. As you can imagine, many fewer places here are air conditioned, and where it does exist the setting is quite moderate. This is one of the main reasons that I continue to frequent Starbucks.