If ever you’re making a TV show about village and traditional culture in Turkey, be sure to arrange to film a circumcision. For a few hundred dollars you can hire the band, the doctor, and the horse, and pay for all the pizzas and soft drinks. We even paid for the boy’s prince outfit. From a TV production point of view, it was a marvelous value. And the most beautiful moment for me was the heartfelt thanks the dad gave me as we left. I promised we’d send him a copy of the show as soon as it was finished.
[Clarification: Since I first posted this, several commenters have expressed concern not only that we filmed this event, but that we paid for it. While this probably goes without saying, I want to clarify the circumstances: This rite of passage is an important part of life in this part of the world. In the sense that it comes with a big, expensive party for the entire community, it’s not unlike a bar or bat mitzvah, or a quinceañera. This family would have thrown their party, at substantial expense, whether or not our cameras had been there. But they were generous enough to let us come and share their personal celebration with viewers half a world away, so we wanted to thank them by helping to defray their costs. Of course, we did not film the circumcision itself, but were able to capture the spirit of a cultural celebration that we believe our armchair-traveling audience might find interesting and insightful of a culture that they may never be able to visit in person. ]