Saturday, May 16, 2009

Some Things I Will Miss If I Ever Manage to Leave Turkey

At times, there are some things I find really nice about living here.

1) Fast food restaurants like McDonalds and KFC deliver. For free.

2) Bakkals (corner markets) also deliver for free. This means that, in some cases, you can have beer and cigarettes brought to your door at one o'clock in the morning. Not that that's come up for me lately, but I like having options.

3) LE's preschool has a ball pool.

4) Though people might annoy you with unsolicited advice about how to care for your child, they rarely get annoyed and give you dirty looks if he's acting up in a public place.

5) Whether you need help or not, people always offer to help you.

6) Service in restaurants is usually outstanding. You'll have like 12 guys in charge of your table, and they're all polite. They are able to convincingly behave as though nothing gives them greater pleasure than serving you. I'm afraid to tell them if something is wrong for fear they'll cry.

7) If restaurant workers aren't very busy, they'll be happy to take your kid away and play with him or show him the kitchen, even if you don't ask. Once LE was playing alone in a restaurant playroom (more and more restaurants have these), and some bored busboys joined him. At one point I looked in and two guys were fiddling with the TV trying to get cartoons, while two others were sitting on one end of a seesaw with LE on the other, all of them giggling and squealing.

8) Cheap pomegranates and mandarin oranges.

9) The food people bring you when they come back from visiting the village.

10) The availability of pirated movies and software. It's harder to find pirated music on the street than it used to be, and the movies and software are mostly in shops now.

11) Sometimes it's annoying to have to find a guy who knows a guy to get anything done, but sometimes it's so much easier. And cheaper.

12) Walking around with no destination or sitting somewhere and doing nothing but drink tea for a long time is not frowned upon here.

13) Prescription drugs are damn cheap here, unless they're American imports.

14) The wildly incongruous foreign music blasting in supermarkets. I do love to see covered women shuffling their bags of beans around to "Sex Bomb" or "Motherfucking P.I.M.P."

15) Daily garbage collection. In most buildings, the kapıcı comes around every evening to take your trash. In our building he doesn't even have to knock on the door-- we just leave the trash in this little room in the hall where the water/electric meters are. This became especially wonderful when diapers entered our life.

16) After they know you, you can borrow money from the bakkal and they'll just add it to your tab.

17) Okay, it's trite but I'll admit it. The tea. Not just the tea itself but the whole culture around tea. The always-open offer of tea. The need for tea-related moments. After sitting in traffic for an hour to visit someone you'd rather not spend your Saturday afternoon visiting, tea cures what ails you. I got used to the tea really fast. On my first visa run to Greece after I'd been here three months, I was very disappointed the sweet old teyze (or whatever they're called in Greek) who ran the hostel didn't offer me tea after the six-hour bus trip. Sometimes it's annoying, like when you HAVE to drink tea for some reason when in fact you'd rather leave, but on the whole, if people are all going to make a really big fuss over something, tea is a fine thing to fuss about.

18) It's also trite to like the ezan (call to prayer) but I do, sometimes. Ezan gives you a rough reminder of what time it is. It starts far away and echoes towards you and away again, as each mosque supposedly times it to the minute on the lunar clock. If you live in a concrete jungle like I do, the conflicting ezans echoing off the buildings make really interesting harmonics. I still think they could stand to turn it down a little though. We get the idea.

19) The way LE comes home from baby school smelling like he's been in a whorehouse. He reeks of at least 5 strong perfumes, plus the kolonya they douse him with at the end of the day. This is because any passing woman at the school scoops up whatever kid is nearest and showers him or her with kisses. Teachers, cleaners, administrators, all of them are quite free with their affection. Even the security guard and the gardeners get in on the action. I hated all this grabbing and kissing when LE was small, I know, but now it makes me kind of glad to know he gets almost as much cuddling at school as he does at home, from people who don't have tofear lawsuits or ugly accusations.

20) These cookies:
Cookie outside, orange gel in the middle with chocolate sprinkles. Nice.


siobhan said...

14, yes, heehee. 19, it's great to feel like the staff at baby school have a genuine affection for your child. 20. Oh no, are you serious? To add, the month of May, I love it here, breakfast, affordable domestics

Stranger said...

You're right about May. Your birthday month is one of the best (Happy Birthday, BTW).

I should make affordable domestics #21. One you've had a taste of that, it's hard to give up.

renai said...

Great post! No:14 is classic. The songs just play and people just sing the words but are totally oblivious to what they are saying.

Stranger said...

Heh. I remember my MIL rocking out to Motherfuckin PIMP in the haridresser's. Then she asked me what the words meant! I just nodded and smiled for that one.