Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ex-Pat Questions

Thanks to Nomad for saving me from having to think up a bunch of posts. This is from his post, "Seven Questions For Expats In Turkey."

Feel free to add your own answers in the comments.

What are a few things you like most about living in Turkey?

I've been mulling over this question for days now. Not counting the days since Nomad first posted-- just the days since I started this post. My problem is everything I think of that I like, there's some big fat downside that begs to be moaned about. For example, I thought of the food culture in Turkey. The food culture is nice, especially in the summer. Long, languid meals outdoors with 40 different dishes and drinks and conversation. Sunday and vacation breakfasts go on for hours-- well into lunch and partway into the afternoon snack and Turkish breakfast food is wonderful. The food alone keeps LE entertained for a long time. There's the people-watching that goes on in a crowded restaurant or the easy comraderie between tables at a picnic place. Sometimes there are passing musicians that you don't even want to pay to go away, and some restaurants round off the night with music and singing and dancing. So that's cool.

But one big fat downside is that for regular, non-celebratory meals in restaurants, there is nothing like dining going on, even in nice restaurants. It all seems very rushed to me, and you have to always keep an eye cocked on your food and glass to make sure they don't disappear before you're done. Few restaurant staff get it that you don't want your main dish when you're only halfway through the appetizers, and I've forgotten that you're supposed to put your napkin in your lap when you sit down-- waiters in restaurants with cloth napkins get all confused because they want to clear away the napkins when people sit.

The other big fat downside is the food culture in people's houses. While I appreciate the enthusiastic hospitality, and I'm amused and maybe slightly annoyed at the insistence to eat more than is humanly possible, I hate the gender division of it all, with the women jumping up and down to fetch things, never having a warm bite themselves while the men sit back and pick their teeth and belch under their breath and don't offer to help. And I don't like these kinds of events that immediately become gender-segregated, with the women in the kitchen sneaking cigarettes (because it's not respectful to smoke in front of the menfolk-- the grown kids have to smoke in the kitchen too) and having inane discussions about illness and miracle herbal cures and which vegetables have been reported in the newspaper to be good for you and why and ways to lose weight. Meanwhile the men get to sprawl in the salon and smoke as much as they want, having water and coffee and tea brought to them by attentive women, talking about cool stuff like things that happen in other countries and politics. Even though I get it that it's totally in the women's comfort level to serve men like that, and I get it that they become horribly upset when the men try to help, I still don't like it. Getting it doesn't mean I'm okay with it, but that's true for a lot of things. Plus, it also pisses me off that I can't drink anything more than a glass or two of white wine when BE's family are around. This includes at my own freaking wedding.

So. I've been rolling over in my mind some things that I like in Turkey that don't bring on something to bitch about. Here they are:

I love Turkish. I love the sound of it and the fluidity and elasticity of it. I love its creepy veneer of mathematically precise regularity that falls apart when it wants to. I love that it's not Turkish without the context and the gestures and the tone of voice. I love how my son speaks Turkish-- he's already doing that identity thing where he's a different person depending on what language he's speaking and in Turkish he's a ham. He's more of a professor in English, probably due to the fact that I'm the only native speaker he hears on a regular basis. I feel bad that I consistently butcher this wonderful language every day, but that's not exactly a downside, is it?

I love it that the newly-opened ekolojik pazar in my neighborhood sells wildcrafted weeds with their other produce. I mean, I'm guessing they don't deliberately cultivate stinging nettle, right? I haven't had the guts to bring nettle home (there are loads of recipes for it on the Internet, with food recipes mostly from Turks) since LE stung his hand on some, but I've brought home all this other stuff that I have no idea what it is. Or rather, I can say "this is a legume of some sort" but that's about it, then I experiment with it. They also sell green garlic. I know about green garlic from my days on the organic farm, when the owners insisted on eating seasonally which meant no garlic once the winter stores ran out. The other apprentices and I discovered garlic growing in the compost heap, or in the grass around the fields from dropped bulbs and seed, and we spent many hours after work hunting for green garlic which is almost as pungent as grown garlic but a little bit different. We carried on like this until one of the apprentices hooked up with a fellow from a nearby farm in a slightly different micro-climate that had garlic earlier than we did. So anyway, last night I mixed ground beef, green garlic and some parsley-like sort of weedy herb, and it tasted exactly like lahmacun topping. That was cool.

I like it that on TV, before commercial breaks they still have the equivalent of "Stay tuned! We'll be right back after these messages." I remember they had that when I was a kid but now they don't, and I don't even remember when they stopped. But I like it that TV is still thought of as some sort of theater here, and the intermissions should be announced. And speaking of TV, there are still lots of Looney Toons here, which have mostly disappeared in the US either due to lack of interest or PC issues. But I've recovered the rare pleasure of Saturday morning cartoons via LE, who's still very impressionable so he likes Looney Toons because I do.

Bakkal deliveries. How cool is that? The other night, LE wanted some milk and we were out and I needed some for dinner. I called the bakkal and the nice kid brought it up within five minutes. Since I couldn't find any small bills (I'd forgotten to warn them to bring change), I told him to put it on our tab. Now that's some old-fashioned goodness I'd only read about in books before coming to Turkey.

Bootleg DVDs. Right now, I'm watching "Sopranos," starting from the first episode. It was on TV here, but I missed a lot of them and they were heavily edited. I'm ever so pleased.

So that's probably enough, though I've surely forgotten some things.

I've just noticed I have all these followers (well, 14, but many of them are people I don't know). So in addition to thanking all of you for bothering to read me, I'll put the question out there: What do you like about the place where you now find yourself?

And I'll deal with Nomad's remaining questions in other posts.


toastytoasty said...

That was an incredible post. I am having a large quantity of beers at the moment as the wife is at her sisters. Will reply tomorrow.

I love your blog and your last post was spot on.


Nomad said...

Thanks so much Stranger. Robert Frost describes my feeling best: I have a lover's quarrel with the world. (And since I am here, that includes Turkey.)
Cannot wait to hear your answers to the other questions. A friend of mine- from the Internet- will be moving to Turkey soon and I am forwarding this post to her so she can get another perspective. Every ex pat has a slightly overlapping but different view of their love-hate relationship with this country. Thanks again.

VadaMoiselle said...

You put ALOT more thought into your response to Nomad's q then I did. I think maybe I should evaluate it a bit more. Its interesting how our different positions give us such different perspectives.

I am a nanny so I DETEST the long days of Turkish social eating. All it means is that I have to try to gobble food before I run around like a chicken with its head cut off chasing 4 couples children while the parents eat and gab for hours at one trendy cafe after another.

And as for the gender segregation, because I work for a wealthy family, there is no difference in how men and women are treated...its the servants who do the jumping and the carrying.

Thank you for your impressions, they have given me some new insight.

Nomad said...

Stranger, check and see the reaction got when she answered the seven questions. Unbelievable. Such hostility

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Nomad, I assume some of the comments there have been removed so I don't see much. Anyway, why is what you see there unbelievable? Having lived here, could you not have foreseen the reaction that Arab thing would have triggered?

People here (or Turks abroad) do dislike being called Arabs by Westerners and esp. Americans. That last commenter there summed up some of the reasons. Had the same bunch of commenters picked a milder tone, what seems to underlie their discomfort could have been communicated w/o triggering defensiveness. That kind of thoughtfulness is rather uncommon, unfortunately. Don't think Turk-on-Turk interaction is any different in general.

A question: do people just beginning to learn Turkish really think that older or perhaps somewhat more pious people speak Arabic here? Is it the convention (as in ezan/muezzin) about using Arabic/Farsi conjugation/declension etc. rules for some loan words that throw people off? Maybe one can think of it as doing the same for Latin loan words in English except it is far more common and is usually regarded to be proper rather than pretentious. No? Stranger, what do you think?

Stranger said...

Toasty and Nomad, thanks for your kind words. A lover's quarrel with the world is probably a closer description of my personality about everything than I'd care to admit. And toasty, I don't know if you're a white wine drinker (I wasn't really till I came here), but Tansaş is still selling a newish Kavaklıdere white called Senfoni for 9.90. Ice cold, it's quite drinkable and not unlike a middling Pinot Gris. You'll have to down the whole bottle though, as it doesn't keep well.

Vada, wow. A nanny. *shudder* Not for au pairs, but for the idea of getting through a social meal as an au pair. If you don't want to be at one of these interminable events, they're miserable. Then finally, someone says "Yavaş yavaş gidelim," which in fact means "We'll just continue gabbing about nothing for another hour, then start to stand up and take another 45 minutes to get our stuff and say goodbye." I don't know what usual practice for nannies is, but I think it's an awfully dirty trick they expect you to look after their friends' kids as well.

Your comment about gender segregation and servants was interesting-- several times in the paper I've read silly interviews with famous actresses or models or other well-known professionals, and very often they say things like, "I think it's very important for me to look after my husband. If he wants a glass of water, I don't let the maid get-- I go get it myself." Eh? Why doesn't HE go get it is the obvious question. But I find it so infuriating they wear this like badge, like she's such a great woman because in addition to being wealthy and professional she still brings water to her husband in the traditional way.

On the other hand, in our early marriage, my husband was sad I didn't love him because I expected him to serve his own food. So there are some cultural things with what people are comfortable with and how men and women show love that just aren't my thing. It's not inherently chauvinist, I don't think. It just seems that way when it's expected of you.

I have a question for you Vada-- I'm curious where you, as a foreigner and au pair, fall in the servant hierarchy in the house. I read on your blog you have your own room so that's nice. Do you eat with the family? Are the servants expected to serve you? Do they get offended if you go in the kitchen and serve yourself? I think there must be a lot of delicate negotiation in your situation...

Stranger said...

I just read the comments over at Vada's blog. Although I know where she is coming from (for many Americans, "Arab" and "Muslim" are synonymous. For more than I care to think about, these words are synonymous with "terrorist." We American expats have a lot of disabusing to do when we go home...), I most certainly would have expected an angry reaction for saying Turks are Arabs, or that there are Arab Turks. But hell, she's only been here 2 months and she had to learn about that particular sensitivity somehow. At least it was in a blog comment and not someone getting up in her face...

To answer your question, Bülent, the Turkish of the Southeast, of some older people, and sometimes colloquial Turkish sounds more Arabic-ish. For Southeastern and colloquial Turkish, it's because people soften their "k"s and move them back in their throats so they're more guttural, "g"s are almost swallowed, and "h"s can have a more guttural sound than in standard Turkish. Even my husband, who speaks pretty standard Turkish, makes these sounds when he's making fun of country bumpkins or using Turkish to comic effect. I've heard it from comedians too, like Cem Yılmaz and Ata Demirel, when they're imitating how some people speak. "Bak bak bak" becomes "bach bach bach" (like the composer, with a soft "ch") and a word like "rahat" can sound like "rachat" or even "ragat" with a deeply swallowed "g."

I don't know if I'm describing that well. These are sounds I can't make at all, myself.

As for older people, I think it's just that more of them tend to speak in regional accents and dialects. I think they also tend to use more frequent religion-based expressions in Turkish, but with Allah in them. Younger religious people do this too. At Fatih U, I noticed a lot of people would use the Arabic words for some things, like they would say "Eid" instead "bayram" and "mubarek olsun" instead of "kutlu olsun." But I don't think many of those folks actually spoke Arabic-- they just chose the older, Arabic option and it probably was political or something.

Arabic is one reason I don't understand very formal or legal Turkish-- because it almost always opts for the more "educated" or "formal"-sounding Arabic option.

Also, even though I know Kurdish and Arabic aren't related, I think Kurdish and Arabic have some similar phonemes (like the one that's written as "x" in Kurdish), and a newcomer might easily mistake the two, especially if you don't know who to expect might be a Kurdish speaker.

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Hah, I say 'mubarek olsun' too though not eid (who imported that? I don't remember any of my elders using it either.) You are right, many of those choices can be politically motivated. On the other hand, the language does include many foreign-rooted words and refraining from their use tends to either cripple expressiveness or make you sound very artificial to the native ear. I just used münezzeh in a Turkish blog, for example. I couldn't have used 'arinmis' (Nisanyan's meaning) because it wouldn't have occurred to me for one thing, and even if it had occured to me, I'd probably have gone for ari which would have sounded just as 'old' and wouldn't have fit the pattern/nuance I was going for: "xxx'den münezzeh."

The problem, in part, is that now that most people speak TV Turkish and since we've never really been good with reading (hard to do when a few generations ago literacy percentages were in the teens) it would be hard for a foreigner who deals with this young and barely functionally literate population to develop an understanding for proper, expressive, but rarer usage of the language.

You are right about the x/throaty h. Istanbul Turkish doesn't have it, I think the Azeris do use it as do many other Turks in Anatolia. Speakers of Istanbul Turkish can make/fake the sound though (as evidenced by your husband's imitation).

Nomad said...

Bulent, I am always surprised by troll-behavior. It's the same on most forums. I guess I wonder where they find all that surplus fury.

As Stranger pointed out, this is NOT a person who professes to know a lot about the country and, after all, the objectionable part was only two ill-chosen words. It would have been different if the post had a sermon on the subject.

It's funny but I took a different meaning from what she said. I thought- and I admit I could be wrong- she was referring to cultures and not language-speaking. The Middle Eastern compared to the European.

Stranger said...

It's my impression mubarek olsun is somehow more formal than kutlu olsun though, right? I'm just guessing because it's what appears on the signs the belediye puts out. And also it seems limited to religious holidays-- I've never heard "Doğum günün mubarek olsun" or "Zafer Bayramı mubarek olsun..."

I realized I misspoke (miswrote?) in my comment about where Vada is coming from. I didn't mean to make it sound like I think she doesn't know any better herself, and anyway she made it clear she chose those words for her American readers.

In any case, Nomad's guess is pretty good too.

And I don't get trolls either.

VadaMoiselle said...

Bulent, to answer your question, I for one have never been under the impression that older generations speak Arabic (and I am VERY new to the language). I do know that the language has changed rapidly since the vocabulary used from one generation to the next has often changed rapidly as well Ataturk's speeches have already been re-translated a shocking 5 times to keep it up to date with modern vernacular! (the only reason I could ever know that of course, is from having done some research) The only times I even know that someone is speaking Arabic--as opposed to Turkish--is when some Turkish friend or coworker points it out in public.

As a lover of empiricism, I know better then to take a person's word for anything. I just made the mistake of assuming that a Turkish person would know what they were talking about, and since I am yabanci, some Trolls assumed I was making personal ignorant assumptions. (and you KNOW what happens when you assume)

And for the record, I happen to know that the most populace Muslim country in the world is in fact Micronesian--not Arabic. For me, those two words have never been synonymous (Arab and Muslim). So Stranger, like you so beautifully said, it is important for those of us who ARE having these experiences to go back and share them with our loved ones and anyone else who will listen. It is my believe that the fear and hate that leads from ignorance can only be overcome when that ignorance is abolished.

Nomad: I and I hope you could NEVER know the trouble those simple 7 questions could have caused huh! But as these questions are meant for people who REALLY want to know what its like for an expat...I can not and will not sugarcoat my impressions!


Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Nomad, I don't think that behaviour is trollish in the regular sense, it is more like we see the evidence that there's considerable amount of resentment just seeking a way to get out. Good trolls engage people using just the right amount of provocative rhetoric and there's very little chance of egagement with the attitudes we see. The problem is, these are people who can produce OK English which means they are better educated than most and probably either have access to wealth or the means to acquire it. So the bitter undereducated/unemployed guy writing from his mom's basement kind of a stereotype doesn't quite fit these people.

I could understand the your people rhetoric if the blogger had given any indication of being of the 'lets turn sand into glass' kind and threw that Arab thing in there -- but obviously she's not.


A lot could be said about mubarek/kutlu and the appropriate contexts history etc. and there's a lot of interesting stuff that would come out, but I lack the background to do it. You are right about 'Zafer bayrami kutlu olsun' and 'kurban bayrami mubarek olsun' but 'kutlu' can work with the latter too, given the right crowd. Just to show you what lurks there if one were to dig, as an example, let me just point out that one'd expect 'Kutlu Dogum Haftasi' to be called something else. But it isn't. Perhaps, 'Mubarek Mevlid Haftasi'? (Roughly the same meaning but more poious-sounding.) So what gives? (My take: this newly invented holy-ish week would have looked ridiculous if they called it mevlid since there's already a Mevlid on the mood-calendar that's celebrated.)

Those kinds of games here do involve the language sometimes. Sometimes you can also work back from the language to get at the interesting political bits. I can see/sense some of them in this case, but I'm sure I miss many.

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Vada, I understand, thank you.

This is a country/populace that's polarized in several dimensions at this point, and you might want to develop some skepticism for what the natives tell you. There seems to be some tendency to feed foreigners the kind of story that'll cause them to conclude that one bunch of people are right and the others are somehow bad/evil/immoral/Godless/backward or whatever. Stranger would know this (or know enough to tell me that I am full of it) better than I do because her family is probably on one side and her some of her former colleagues are on the other of one axis of polarization.

Anyway, I have no way of knowing what you were told by whom and in which context and you probably don't need my advice to figure out that what people tell you might not always be reliable but I thought perhaps by jotting down a pet theory I'd get people to volunteer their experiences.

Now on something completely different. Do you people realize that with Vada's blog along with Jessica's we now have access to information about both home and school lives of some very lucky kids here? We now need an expat spouse and an expat coworker to get complete coverage of this new class of people from the expat POV. Perhaps those blogs also exist?

Stranger said...

I think our dear Anonymous ranter will be more traditionally troll-like when his English improves and he learns a bit of subtlety. Right now it's pretty limited to throwing accusations and insults, and I've tried to talk him down before after he got terribly upset about something he completely misunderstood, that was in fact somewhat complimentary.

On the other hand, at least this person is reading expat blogs in English. The motivations are unclear, but he is actively seeking information. Now he just needs to grow up a bit and learn to use his words.

Building on what Bülent said, I think people here try to give foreigners they very best impression of Turkey when they explain things to us, so sometimes the explanations are not only overly polarized, but often quite facile and rosy.

Or, if they admit to something negative, it's always completely someone else's fault. My husband hates, in the following order: AKP and religious people, America, and to a lesser but somewhat insane extent, Jews and Masons. So whatever is wrong in Turkey is first the fault of religious people, but the religious people are America's fault, and America is the Jews' and Masons' fault. Turkish complicity is nowhere in the story, and apparently Turks have no free will or autonomy and they need to be told what to do by people like him and Atatürk.

But my husband also believes aliens built the pyramids so we can take what he says with a grain of salt.

Bülent, I've always found this particular angle of sociolinguistics fascinating, about the word choices of individuals, groups, societies and how they change with context and interlocuters. Obviously, I can barely scratch the surface in Turkish. And I agree it's a shame how much richness and subtlety of language is lost with each generation (in English too, and I'm not sure the languages are making compensatory gains, except perhaps in the vernacular, which, unfortunately, is pretty transient).

toastytoasty said...

I love the way Turks try to give the impression that they are so moral with the implication that Brits, Russians etc are so immoral or amoral.

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

I think the following quote can be applicable regardless of era and country:

Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied. (Arthur Miller)

Stranger said...

Immoral and amoral, yes. My favorite is the one that goes, "Families aren't important for Americans because they let their kids leave home when they're 18." Jeez, at least you'd think they'd cite as an example the fact that we don't take care of our old people. Or American health care.

Bülent, that quote works on so many levels.

Also, I was thinking about how in English we say "Merry Christmas" but we don't say "merry" for any other holiday. And in fact we hardly use that (archaic) word at all except to (tongue-in-cheek) describe tipsiness.

toastytoasty said...

Or as an example of the meaness of British people is that allegedly British people buy fruit singly -eg you can buy 1 apple 1 banana etc. Scarily that `fact` was told to me by one of my Saudi students. Trying to point out that you can buy eggs singly did not compute.

Nomad said...

I had commenters "flame out" on my two times- which, if you think about all the rants I put out there isn't all that bad.
One wasn't actually an spewing of nastiness but it was an adamant refusal to accept what I had written. Like, YOU ARE WRONG. THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN. It was really odd. I had written about a bit of normal rudeness at a bus stop and the reaction was: "Well, that has never happened to me. Ever. You must have misunderstood the situation." I assured her that I hadn't. The details were quite clear.
And then,"You don't understand our customs. We are polite to women here.. so you must have made a mistake."
Like a nitwit, I couldn't let it go either. I should have simply said, "Neyse" and left her to her ideas.

The other time somebody used one of my posts to leap on a soapbox about everything the US has done wrong in the last 20 years. How everybody hates the US- (it sounded very similar to Vada's guest, actually.) As if I didn't know the wreck Bush had made. I remembered that she was Turkish but had decided to live in the US. So I asked her, if you think America is such a bad place, and causes so many problems in the world, then why do you choose to live, work and more importantly, pay taxes there?
Of course, if she could have come over my phone line and strangled me, I am sure I would have felt her grey claws around my neck at that moment.
Still the flip side of all that is meeting the nice people in the blogosphere. I think all of you know whom I am referring to. :)

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Nomad, yeah, anti-Americanism among Turks can be of the rather unhealthy kind where the sentiment is bitter and some of the reasons can be nonsensical. As you noted, though, it isn't categorical since people do want to live there or consume what gets produced there. I don't think this is inconsistent. They want to have what they think Americans have though they dislike what the US gov't does (or what they believe it does) elsewhere.

The American reaction to all this can also be interesting. GWB gets blamed/scapegoated when all he did was confirm but not create some of the reasons for the unease other people feel about US actions/dominance. I suspect the newish kind (or phase) of resentment here started with the first Iraq war and built up on what already existed. What happened after 9/11 was just a thick coat of bloody icing on an already rancid cake (yuck, dunno where this particular abomination of an image came from, but I'll leave it in). The invasion and the arrogant attitude Bush has publicly shown just made people say 'oh this is the same kind of thing, but just a bit more explicit.'

I think the ordinary people are helpless/powerless in both countries, as far as geopolitics (and increasingly, global economy) goes but what the world has been told about American democracy might be working against ordinary Americans. People might be under the illusion that regular folks in the US somehow know what's going elsewhere in the world and are actually supporting/deciding US gov't action. I once tried to engage/shame a bunch of young techies on this by contrasting how ordinary people here behaved after Katrina with how nice folks in the US had been to me after the quake of '99. If you can read Turkish, you can see a snapshot of what some left-leaning people here think through the answers of a rather articulate forum member here (bm is me).

Nomad said...

I disagree one point you made. I see a mighty inconsistency of rallying against American imperialism while not only reaping the benefits that empire may provide, but also supporting that empire with your taxes. Especially when it is a voluntary situation.

In the face of that kind of hypocrisy, I- especially after choosing to leave- find it particularly galling to be preached at by somebody who has obviously made his/her decision to live a comfortable, even luxurious life in the heart of a system she/he purports to despise. Apparently that life- with electricity that is always available, and drinkable water from the tap, a public bus system that runs on time, all that was more important than all those noble-sounding protests and fashionable slogans about the injustices and horrible entitlements of a superpower. People want to have a good life- no surprise- but just be honest about it and drop the righteous pretense.

toastytoasty said...

Yes Nomad ya sevk ya terket

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Hmm, Nomad, in the case of someone personally blaming you given the circumstances you describe I'd agree. The broader point isn't that clear to me, though.

Whatever extra amount of comfort available there isn't necessarily connected to whatever it is people complain about the US foreign policy. That is, say, the municipal water there isn't clean because of something undesirable (or atrocious) that the gov't does elsewhere. I'm not even convinced, on the whole, that the policies that increase anti-Americanism elsewhere do much for the ordinary taxpayers there other than sticking them with more debt. Especially in the post cold war world, despite their being citizens of the sole remaining superpower, I don't see an inordinate or imbalanced increase in the standard of living for the Americans (compared to not just countries like China, but even places like Turkey). No?

Jess said...

It's too bad I'm so late to the party. I ate these comments up! And laughed, and now I have furrows in my forehead and one eyebrow quirked. It's a great discussion, and if it weren't so late, I might jump in. Stranger, you're far more brave than I am, and Bulent, it's nice to "see" you again!

Regards, everyone....

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Jess, we'll Turkify you lot yet. The local custom that I'm familiar with says it is never too late to jump in and never really necessary to stay on topic as long as the blog owner doesn't chase you away. Elsewhere on the Turkish side of blogosphere 200-300 comments on a post over a week or so isn't all that unusual. Usually it only takes just a few people with a coffee house mentality and some manners.

Stranger said...

I'm in no position to chase anyone away. I'm happy with the few thoughtful comments I get (which all come to my email, BTW, so I don't miss them even when they're for a post from 2 years back). If I had 200 or 300, I'd always feel bad I couldn't respond to them all and I'd have to give up writing for money and my husband would probably leave and I might not even notice.

And Jess, I'm forever screwing up doors too. Even though I know what the words on the signs mean, I still mix them up. Plus, it's a little like the light switches and the letter "i" on keyboards(both of which which I also still get wrong and then I get wrong all over again when I'm in the States)-- I expect doors to open a certain way and when they don't I just fail.

Jess said...

I kinda wish I *could* get Turkified. I haven't gotten as far inside the scheme of things here as I'd have liked, for a variety of reasons. I'm starting to think about leaving after next year, and something tells me I'll regret it....

Here's another one for the list, Stranger, besides keyboards and light switches: hot and cold taps. And another, a sort of lateral example: cold red wine. Whenever I raise a glass of red, my mouth recoils for a second, and then I go for it. Just like pushing a door, or doing a double-take on the light switch.

Stranger said...

Don't you hate it when you're in a freezing, unheated bathroom in winter and you turn on the hot water to warm up your hands while washing, but nothing comes out? There's plenty of frigid water from the cold faucets, but the hot's just there for show...

The faucets bother me less. I think I've lived in a lot of old houses so that's an ambiguity I can tolerate.

Salt and pepper shakers, on the other hand... Especially when there's no pepper in either of them!

Cold red wine, warm white wine. I've pretty much stopped drinking red here because it's so foul, especially cold. At least when you refrigerate white you can't taste it so much...

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Stranger, sometimes the markings on the doors are misleading. They say it opens one way but it actually opens both ways. I once complained about a door like that to a proprietor in a self-service kind of place because I thought it was ridiculous to expect people to pull doors with trays in their hands as they walked out. Turns out, the door did open both ways but they didn't want people to open it towards the outside and bother the people witting around the table right by it. So they lied on the sign.

Jess, what kind of thing about the inside scheme do you think you failed to observe or get exposed to? The variety in this city alone would take me a lifetime to get familiarized with -- but I am from here so I don't bother. The yabancis can do that for me.

Stranger said...

That door thing is an example of the small kindnesses that I love here. Another one is when they change your plate in restaurants, and move all your food onto a new plate without smears on it.

One I love less is when taxi drivers remove the things the seatbelts in the back plug into-- apparently those are a great discomfort for passengers (!)