Systems Technical University 1001 Arabian Nights
Wrapping up my coverage of the [Systems Technical University 2014] conference, we had a special dinner with entertainment on Wednesday evening.
Before dinner, I was able to catch up with my colleagues from across the pond. Here I am pictured with Ola Surowiec, a Power Systems sales specialist from Scotland.
The dinner was set up as self-service buffet style, with choices of European, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. This is largely the heritage of the Ottoman empire to provide a fusion of flavors from its neighbors.
The city of Istanbul is considered the border between Europe and Asia, with one side of the city on the "European" side, and the other side of the Bosphorus strait being the "Asian" side.
With a population of over 14 million, Istanbul forms one of the largest urban agglomerations in Europe, second largest in the Middle East and the third-largest city in the world by population within its city limits.
The entertainment started with two [belly dancers], one male and one female. (IBM is an equal opportunity employer!) For those not familiar with this particular form of performance art, it is improvised folk dances based on torso articulation and abdominal movements.
I have seen dancers before in Egypt, the country that most people associate with the origin of belly dancing, but the Turkish version is considered more energetic and athletic. Certainly both of our dancers were quite flexible.
This was followed by a live cover band that played the latest English-language hits. Several Americans at the table asked "Wait? We come all the way to Turkey and the local band sings the songs in English?"
I had to explain that [the Beatles made their start playing in Germany]. This let the band hone their performance skills, widened their reputation, and led to their first recording.
Today, what music tops the charts throughout Europe, including countries like Turkey that are predominantly not English-speaking residents, are mostly from American musicians. Emmanuel Legrand has a great article on this titled [Europe's music scene -- A mosaic of talent united by one language].
In the corner, attendees were invited to dress up as their favorite sultan to take photograph. Here for example, are some of the members of the STU event team. Mo McCullough, Don Meyer, Marlin Maddy, Glenn Anderson and Alex Abderrazag pose with two lovely local ladies in full costume.
The word "sultan" derives from the Arabic word meaning "strength", "authority" or "power". Sultans ruled the Turkish empire from 1299 to 1922.
The [Topkapi palace], where I visited earlier in the week, contains clothing on display of the sultans and princes from the second half of the 15th century to the early 20th century.
A fun time was had by all!