CAROLINE FINKEL ON THE EVLİYA ÇELEBİ PROJECT
Evliya Çelebi and Book of Travels
'That is how they do it, so we cannot criticise it'.
Even out of context, these words from the 10-volume Book of Travels of the great Ottoman Turkish scholar and traveller Evliya Çelebi seem like a useful motto for out times. They sum up the values embodied in the British Council's Our Shared Europe project, which proposes that we, people of many cultural identities who live side-by-side, regard one another with tolerance. The OSE project seeks to show us that we share much in the present, as we have in the past, and that we must re-capture this common ground if we are to have a enjoy a stable future. But first we need to understand one another and the cultures we inhabit. The OSE project has chosen Evliya Çelebi to symbolise this learning process. His is a name familiar to every Turk, for his insatiable curiosity, his spirit of adventure, his openness to whatever came his way, his originality as a recorder of his times—and much more. These qualities are timeless and will serve us well today, as they did Evliya Çelebi as he roamed the world.