Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine's Day My Ass, It's Turkiversary Day!

I haven't done anything to celebrate Valentine's Day since I was in grade school and we had those Valentine's Day parties in class where everyone has a shoebox with a hole cut in the front and everyone else in the class had to stick those crappy cards with crappy puns into everyone else's shoebox. You had to sign all the cards the night before with your mom watching over your shoulder to make sure you didn't write something shitty to the kids who were assholes.

Lucky for me, 14 February is also my anniversary of the day I came to Turkey. So this is not a bitter Valentine's Day post. It's just a post wherein I extoll my gladness for having come to Turkey 12 years ago.

At the time I came here, I believed I was coming to Istanbul for love. In retrospect that whole thing was a delicious delusion but it turned out very well indeed because it wasn't love at all, though in the end it ended up being something like that.

And so I've decided to grace you with one of these damned lists that the Internet keeps churning out. In honor of my 12 years in Istanbul, here's a list of 12 things that tell me I've been in Istanbul for 12 years.

Please note that I will not mention tea or people's hospitality because yawn. I'm bored to death of those newbie lists.

1) The other day I marched into the eczane and requested yeast infection medication. Then I asked for some cream for the itching, and the guy asked where it itched, and I said, "My vagina." The eczane crowd of gawkers wasn't as big as usual, but it was all male. What can I do sometimes?

2) I remember when there were trees on Istiklal.
Now they've paved the cobbles along the tracks to make it easier for TOMAs to pass.
3) When my kid has friends over and I bring them a snack, he asks if it's haram before letting his friends eat it. He seems to think all we eat is haram.

4) I've started telling people off for stuff like cutting in line or polishing their nails in restaurants.

5) Forgetting my wallet at home is no reason not to do the grocery shopping. You can always pay it back later.

This, for example, is not traffic.
6) I can tell how long we'll be sitting in traffic based on who is begging or what's being sold. Water, flowers, or simit-- not long. Toys or balloons arranged on a long stick-- longer. Small child beggars in between lanes-- pretty long. Legless beggars in between lanes on the freeway-- screwed.

7) I went to the dentist last week for a filling and he offered to do it without anesthetic and I accepted. He didn't even charge me for the filling.

8) I can sometimes tell what people really mean in Turkish by how and when they say it.

9) I have never bought terlik in my life, yet I have a healthy supply of terlik.

10) An empty water bottle makes an excellent football. All the kids in the schoolyard are doing it.

11) When going to have a meal or a drink outside any time that's not summer with a group friends that has Turkish people in it, I check with the Turks if they have issues about getting cold. If they do (and this is a thing), then we sit inside.

12) Even before the trees started blossoming, I knew it was going to be an early spring because the cats started fucking a few weeks ago. Still, I'll find someone to confirm the cemre are falling right this year, and I'll hold out for the leylek to be sure.


Backto Bodrum said...

I admire you for sticking it out and still being here! Give yourself a round of applause and then pull your ear and kiss the air so that the "nazar" doesn't touch you.

Stranger said...

Done and done :)

Anonymous said...

Stranger, I love it! Also: there where trees on Istiklal?? When??

Stranger said...

I reckon it was in 2003. It was around the same time they tore up the old cobbles (the cool ones, like in the photo) and replaced them with the boring ones. Actually, they replaced them with some boring ones from China first, and then right after, tore all those out to use good, patriotic Turkish stone. Istiklal was a muddy, drunken adventure for awhile there, with huge, deep trenches along either side. If you were brave, you could attempt to jump the trenches. If you were super brave, you could use the slippery, rickety slabs of old wood that served as makeshift bridges.

Claudia Turgut said...

You are hysterical - you make me laugh out loud. How do you say vagina in Turkish???

Stranger said...

Vajin :)

It's funny-- I don't think in English I would have been so happily able to broadcast the state of my vagina first thing in the morning at the pharmacist. I would have opted for some other word, or at least to say "my lady parts" ironically. Some things just carry less weight in a foreign language, I guess.

Seabell said...

That would be vajina, not vajin Stranger :)
But again, as long as you have the turkish jjjj sound nobody would miss it I guess. I live in US for 12 years and my son asks the exact same question the other way around, (they should be same age) Is it helal mom?
As for me if you have the terlik , you are local.