TURKEY

Istanbul Taxi

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Was it a taxi trip or a crazed stand-up routine on wheels. Or perhaps just an over enthusiastic one man tourist promotion of Istanbul.


Whatever it was, Mark Corcoran took an unforgettable white knuckled journey that's proof – if it was needed – that Turkish decaf's in short supply in the ancient city. Sit back, hang on, and enjoy this week's postcard.

Istanbul

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Corcoran: I have a confession to make -- Istanbul is my favourite city. Astride a fault line of history religion and culture where east meets west, says the guidebook. I’ve seen a lot of this place - but as I was about to discover - it’s not what you see but getting there that’s half the fun.

Corcoran gets in Ihsan's taxi

Corcoran: Hi, how are you?

Ihsan: Hi, how are you?

Corcoran: Not too bad. Mark.

Ihsan: Ihsan. The best taxi driver. Number one. Little bit crazy, but okay, no problem.

Driving through Istanbul

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Corcoran: I’d caught a ride with besttaxidriver.com - outside of virtual reality he’s also known as Ihsan - the mother of all Istanbul taxi drivers if you’ll excuse the tortured metaphor. A man of many talents - and allegedly many languages. Japanese… American…


He comes armed with a collection of bumper sticker philosophies.


Ihsan: Life is life...wife is wife - no money no honey.


Corcoran: But at least it's a pleasant change from the usual cab driver rant.

Ihsan clapping as he drives

Ihsan: I want to give them experience they never forget.


Corcoran: Ihsan is a one man tourism promotion board. Thousands have filled in his passenger books, sending back the happy snaps of their ride on the wild side.

Ihsan shows passenger book

Ihsan: I don’t want to forget them, I say please to write your experience, because after the city tour, and their ideal experience, I don't forget them. This is my best belly dance pictures, and I'm very happy here, look. Look at this! Look at this! Crazy.


Ihsan: Look, my car sometimes automatic. Look. Do you see that – because my hand is busy with the woman, and my darling. Yes, I love the darling. We are hand in hand together, my car's automatic.

Ihsan takes out cassette and puts in layer

We have to shake our body. Time is coming. Yes.


Corcoran: Inshallah is a word often repeated in this cab. It means God Willing. Apparently if we die in a car wreck God wills it. But it's a prospect that doesn't seem to worry the traffic cops, who all love a good road show.


Ihsan: We don’t have to wait at traffic light - time is money - money is time.


Horn


Ihsan: Get out of here. Give me my gun. What a taxi driver, what a cab you are.


Corcoran: It's a tough way to make a living. Depending on the whims of tourists who managed survive the road rage.


Ihsan: We need tourists please. If one Turkish man died, no problem, we have enough people, more than 12 million.

Driving through Istanbul

Corcoran: Within an hour, we're new best friends. It's time for Ihsan to reveal a few trade secrets. What London cabbies call the Knowledge.


Rule number one, it's all about tactics.

Ihsan: Life is tactic - who is the intelligent who is the quick -he can manage - because tourists now they are very intelligent - you should do it good way...Excuse me you want a taxi?


Corcoran: Rule number two, if you're having a bad day, make it even worse for the competition.


Ihsan: Look! That man is also doing my tactic to do charming - try to get customers. Look!…Excuse me! I am better driver he is not good. This is my best friend, look. This is Hassan, we have many picture with him. We go belly dance restaurant if we have two taxi, we go together and he shake also perfect!


Corcoran: And you're still friends after you scared off his customers.

Ihsan: No, he's not. He tried to, he's charming, but not work. He needs me.

Carpet shop

Corcoran: Ihsan has many special friends. And this being Turkey, one of them just happens to sell carpets.


Ihsan: He's the best salesman around here.


Corcoran: So special friends, special prices, eh.

Ihsan: Of course. Always special price. We try, we can look first. His service is super. You can see.

Salesman displays carpets

Salesman: Very high quality. They are not for five, ten years, for generations to generations.


And if you're able to cut this fringe, we will give you the carpet for free. If you cut your finger, we will be not responsible.


Corcoran: Rule number three in the Istanbul cabbies' handbook, always get a commission from the rug merchants. As they roll out a carpet bigger than the ABC budget, Ihsan, calculating his percentage, has a fleeting vision of immediate retirement.

Salesman with calculator

Salesman: This one will cost you only 29 thousand dollars.

Corcoran: Only 29 thousand?

Salesman: Only 29 thousand. The reason I give you this price by wishing to have business with you. And you don't need money to buy carpet. All you need is plastic, which we call plastic fantastic.


Corcoran: But it was wasn’t to be. My ABC plastic rejected, we move on.

Driving along shore at night

That night we’re down by the Bosophorus - cruising along the shore - where Europe ends and Asia begins.


Ihsan: Weather is cold but Ihsan is hot - don’t worry.

Corcoran and Ihsan enter nightclub

Corcoran: Into one of his favourite nightclubs…

Turkish aerobics he calls it. The bad weather keeps just about everyone at home - it’s just us and a group of Iranian tourists - but who cares.

By now you may be asking what is the point of this story.

It’s about the simple pleasures of life - enjoying the ride - because it doesn't matter who you are - one day we all ultimately end up at the same destination.

Ihsan

Ihsan: My philosophy - enjoying every day. Every day, full life. Not thinking of other days. Every day earn a little money - more fun.

I hope I continue till I get older. What can I do? Life is life. Wife is wife. Take it easy. C'est la vie.


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Credits:

Reporter: Mark Corcoran

Camera: Geoff Clegg

Sound: Kate Graham

Editor: Stuart Miller


© 2019 Journeyman Pictures
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