Enough is enough

I feel like I have fallen down the rabbit hole here.  Writing this post took time but it also took a hell of a lot of research on my part and at each breath I found another shocking revelation regarding women’s rights here in Turkey.  I had no idea of the shocking statistics – 300 women were killed by men here in Turkey in 2014, an additional 100 more were raped.  Enough is enough.

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My recent post drew such an amazing response from you but more importantly it has helped get the message out, not just here in Turkey, but all over the world.

With the hashtag #sendeanlat (tell me your story) trending on social media,  with over 800,000 hits, the message is simple – Turkish women have had enough. Enough of the innuendo by the young men who trail you home.  Enough of the man rubbing himself against you on the train (which happened to me recently in Istanbul).  Enough of the suggestion that you may have asked for it by your choice of dress.  Enough of an employer using his power to gain your favour and enough of your husband, your father, or even a complete stranger raising their hand for the slightest infraction.  Add to this the hashtag #ozgecanicinminietekgiy (wear a miniskirt for Özgecan) and you can see that Turkish people really do want their country to change.

With the heightened media attention spurring Turkish politicians into action with promises of harsher punishment against perpetrators here in Mersin billboards have begun to appear with Özgecan’s image asking the question ““Have you heard the screams of Özgecan?” This refers to the recent suggestion by Government officials that women should scream loudly if assaulted.  I just want to point out that Özgecan did shout, the authorities confirmed this.  She screamed.  She scratched.  She used pepper spray against her attacker but no one could help her.  The fact is that women should not need to scream.  Women should be safe to walk down the street, or catch a bus.  Rather than teaching women to scream or to protect themselves perhaps it would be better for men to be taught to respect women.

I have to ask myself if teaching respect is enough though as there has also been instances of shaming women in recent days.  The most public example was the host of Survivor All Stars Nihat Dogan who, rather than showing sympathy towards what happened to Özgecan he chose to make inappropriate remarks about her attire at the time of her death.  This eşek was put in his place pretty swiftly though and was fired from his hosting gig.  Good work Channel 8.

Change begins with the current Government.  With a little adjustment to their current attitude (do you remember when I wrote this President Erdogan’s recent perception on women’s equality back in November – yikes!) and with an acknowledgement of equality between women and men then lives will really change here for the better.  The next step is education which is crucial in the prevention of violence against women and that education needs to start in the schools.  Specialised training should be given to teachers to help them identify children at risk and also to teach awareness and behaviour towards not just women but to each other as a whole.  Teach children that raising your hand is not the answer and within one generation – only one generation – this antiquated behaviour will be wiped out.

Did you know that in January of this year 27 women were murdered by men here in Turkey.  Stop making excuses Turkey. There was no excuse for what happened to Özgecan.  There is nothing that can give back that young woman her life, to return her to her family and her friends.  Enough is enough.

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Normally here I would ask you to like my blog for all updates.  Today I am asking you to share this post.  The more people who spread the word the better.  x

My Letter to Özgecan

I never had the pleasure of meeting you Özgecan.  I never had the chance to hear you laugh with your friends or sing along to your favorite tune.  No I did not know you at all but I know you now.  Your name will forever be etched into my heart and into the hearts of millions of others here in Turkey and around the world who woke on Valentine’s Day, the day of romance, to the sickening news of your death at the hands of a monster.  We are shocked beyond words hearing of your suffering and of knowing that the simple task of stepping on a bus is no longer safe here in Mersin.

Aslan

What happened to you happens to other women every day, all over the world.  Whether it is in New Delhi or Melbourne monsters can be found everywhere.  But with your death comes the news that tens of thousands of people are marching in cities all over Turkey angry for your pain and suffering.  They are angry that this has happened to you.  For too long women have not felt safe as they stand in their kitchen, walk down the street or even step onto a bus.  For too long society has looked the other way at certain behaviour but today it is time for Turkey to change and you are an important part of that change.  What happened to you Özgecan and the reactions of people here in Mersin and all around your beautiful country prove that they too want things to change.

I watched with tears of pride as your friends and family defied the imam as he told them to “let the men” carry your body.  Hayir.  They stood by you and helped you to your final resting place.  These women will never forget you Özgecan and they will stand up for you and yell your name with honour.

People no longer want to hear that women are secondary to men.  We no longer want to listen to politicians who outlandishly state that “violence against women is just about selective perception (thank you Fatma Şahin, AKP Family Minister)” or “equality between men and women is against nature” (thank you Recep Tayip Erdogan, President). No Özgecan we will no longer allow politicians to sprout nonsense that should be basic human rights.

Today people are calling for much needed change and, although you had to lose your life, I hope that the powers that be will realise that changes must be made to ensure that no one else must spend their last moments in fear at the hands of another.

Özgecan your soul is now soaring in the sunlight.  You have no more pain.  We will remember your name and we will remember you.

I am reminded of something Maya Angelou said, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

Rest in peace Özgecan.

The Turk in Oz

I think being a yabanci, an expat or an immigrant (call it what you will) is extremely bloody hard.  I am not going to whinge and carry on today but rather tell the tale of when The Turk first arrived in Australia all those years ago.  Let me turn the table on my usual yabanci whinge-fest and tell you all about how The Turk coped when he was the yabanci arriving on foreign soil, a stranger in a hostile land, so to speak.

Life in Australia was good for me in 2002.  Daughter was a damn good baby.  I had a job that I loved and I lived in an apartment that was all mine.  I was content and having The Turk arrive should have made my life pretty much perfect.  Shouldn’t it?

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Post 9/11 the Australian visa process was daunting but with perseverance and his sponsorship being guaranteed by an amazingly supportive friend, The Turk arrived in Sydney one sunny morning in December 2002.  Not wasting a moment The Turk hit the ground running and by the first week of January 2003 he had procured gainful employment as a storeman and packer.  He was good at his job because he wanted this job.  He didn’t love the work but he wanted this life in this strange new world to be a success.

My friends and family were welcoming and The Turk soon turned my friends into his friends although, as hard as he tried, he just wasn’t fitting in.  I knew it and he knew it.  No one spoke Turkish and Turkish people were as scarce as hen’s teeth where we lived (read that as non-existent).  No one understood what he was going through or where he was from and perhaps I was not as helpful as I could have been.  During those early years Australia was not an easy place for a Muslim and The Turk was racially discriminated against by strangers and even the police on more than one occasion.

The Turk began to drink and gamble.  I knew he liked a drink – still does – but the gambling was a problem as we did not have that much money to start with.  Was I as supportive as I could have been or help him deal with his obvious addictions?  No.  I turned on him and badmouthed him to whoever would listen.  The bright new world was slowly becoming jaded and life was becoming more difficult.

By 2006 The Turk had had enough.  This new home had beaten him and, while Turkey may not have all the bells and whistles that Australia has, he gave me an ultimatum.  Return to Turkey with him and forge a new life there.  I refused to leave and finally he packed his bags and returned to Turkey without us.

After six months in his homeland The Turk returned a new man.  Still gave me a migraine daily but at least he had fresh vigour about his life and what he hoped to achieve in Australia.  He got not just one new job but two, landscaping by day and a sous chef by night.  He was happy.  He was working his ass off, providing for his family and could hold his head up high.

He still had not made any friends however and we really had no family other than my father who had remarried.  The Turk brooded a lot and we fought a lot, until finally, after one particularly explosive argument, he broke down and told me the truth.  The real truth.

He had never really adjusted to his life in Sydney.  To Australia.  As much as he loves Australia and he loves his family and friends living in such a foreign environment was just too damn difficult.  He had no support.  He had no one who understood how he felt and Australia had slowly broken him.  Into tiny, little pieces.

Obviously we got past that dark time in our life and we stayed together.  Sure he drives me crazy but he is my Turk and I do love him.  Sometimes.

The point to my reminiscing is this – moving to a new country has so many hurdles to overcome.  There is a drama at every turn.  Renting an apartment, finding a job, obtaining your visa.  Bloody hell it is hard work.  Doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from this is a fact.

When I first arrived here in Mersin it was difficult and there were a lot of tears.  Two years later it is still difficult (and there are still tears).  So what do I do?  Do I give up?  Run home?

I can now honestly say I understand why The Turk left back in 2006.  I really do.  Mersin is no Sydney and life for me back in Australia would be so much easier.  I would have my friends.  I would return to my fantastic job working with people I adore.  Life would be grand.  So why don’t I run home?  Why is it that I am coping in this chaotic country while The Turk collapsed in the reasonable sanity that is Australia?  Simply put I have met a great group of people who I can truly call friends.  They understand just how crappy a crappy day can be here in Mersin and will laugh right along with me (or pull me back from the abyss if necessary).  This was what The Turk was missing in Australia.

To anyone who is taking the plunge in a foreign land or to those of you who have their partner moving to yours know this one thing.  Find a support system that works for you and surround yourself with people who will lift you up when needs be.  Of course social media makes finding these like-minded people that much easier (man how I wish there was FB back in 2001).  I can thank social media (and this blog) for finding my support network – they are my rock.  Yes!  You guys truly rock!

Let’s Pretend that Today Never Happened

Everything I type in today’s post can be filed under the heading “Shit Happens”.  It does you know.  Shit really does happen. All the time.   To good people and to not so good people.  To people who, you might say, deserve a karmatic (this is a real word) explosion of diarrhetic (alright this may not be a real word) deuce and it also happens to people who are as heroic as Ghandi or as pious as the Pope.  But today I feel like I was handed a bucket load of bok and I am hovering pretty close to the edge right now.

Shit Happens

Let me set the scene.  Candles?  Romantic music?  No people, this scene requires more dark clouds and depressing music.  Possibly elevator muzak playing Depeche Mode.  Is it muzak or music?

Wait!

I was on the dolmuş yesterday when a tiny Turkish man with a rather hairy moustache sat down beside me … and sneezed.  All over me.  I felt his germ-filled gust of Turkish breath whoosh over me and I could feel his festering microbes invade my throat, my eyes and my nose.  Ick!  I wiped my face as he apologised but it was too late.  The damage was done and within 8 hours I was coughing and sneezing.  I was a Codral tablet away from death.  Bastard!  So now I have the dreaded grip.  Again.

Now you can imagine my state of mind when I woke this morning after a night of snot and phlegm.  Adding to the joy of the grip I awoke to the bonus of no electricity.  “Shit happens” I hear you cry.  Yes, too true but I won’t be beaten by the lack of electricity.  This is just a blip on my day.  Soldier on.

I made myself a cup of tea and opened the refrigerator to grab the milk.  No milk.  “Shit happens” the Gods from above declare.  Maybe, but maybe Daughter could have left me a mere drip for my tea this morning.  I made a mental note to pull out my voodoo doll with her name on it and I left the house to go to the market.

Of course it is pouring with rain and I cannot find my umbrella so I ran through the rain dodging the puddles only to find that … the market wasn’t open yet.  Yep, “Shit happens”.

My next “Shit happens” moment needs a little background – The Turk has arranged to build yet another apartment above ours (because you can never have too many apartments) however as one of our lovely neighbours complained about the building work the belediye (Council) recently handed us a stop work order.  We now have a partially built apartment above us but this isn’t the “Shit happens” moment, not for me anyway.  My “Shit happens” moment is the fact that because the building work has been cut short by this jealous, asshole neighbour today’s downpour is allowing a stream of water to pour into every room in the house through the partially built walls and holes in our ceiling.  As I run around placing buckets and pots to collect the rainwater I can be heard yelling, “Shit happens!”

So here I am, suffering from the grip with no electricity, no hope of a cup of tea and water pouring through the roof.  It’s not even 9am.  At that point I contemplated purchasing a hallucinogen, maybe I could find a Turkish equivalent to LSD or some mushrooms, to take me away from myself.  I could float off to my very own magical Willy Wonka-esque world filled with unicorns and fairy floss.  No, I cry, soldier on … plus the electricity came back on.  Bonus!

And can I just amend the above statement, thankfully the electricity came back on as Daughter came rushing down the hallway yelling that she needed to straighten her hair before school.  Oh the horror, the trauma, of leaving the house with frizzy hair!  It shall not be!

I finally got my cup of tea (with milk) when my father in law arrived at the door.  He arrives on my doorstep every – single – day.  Without fail.  From breakfast to dinner he is here.  Except Sundays.  On Sundays he can be found at my sister in law’s (SIL) home, after all her food is better than mine and she puts up with his crap.  Plus she bathes him.  I would rather eat my own toenails than bathe him.  Anyway my father in law arrives complaining.  Yagmur!  Really?  It’s raining?  I look out the window in feigned wonder.  Oh?!  It is raining?  Thank you for stating the obvious.  He then proceeds to tell me it is cold and that he needs a blanket.  And a cup of cay.  Drop everything folks.   Get Dede a blanket!  Get Dede cay!  Go on, say it – “You wanted this life.  Shit happens!”

Finally it is noon and Daughter leaves for school, with perfectly straight hair, but still complaining and my father in law is quietly snoring on the couch.  Finally.  Peace.

I grab the television remote and started flicking through the channels.  The telephone rings.  Oh no.  Please.  God no.  I looked at the ID on the telephone.  SIL’s work.  I contemplated not answering it.  I knew what would happen if I did.  I sighed as I reached for the telephone.  It seems that the Cabbage Patch Kid is crying – again – and her older sister has had enough of her whining.  Oh wonderful, so now I get to enjoy the whining!  “Shit happens”.

I am now sitting at my desk with my earphones on.  They are blasting Beyonce (don’t judge me) to drown out the crap going down behind me.  The Cabbage Patch Kid has thrown herself on the floor and is sulking – loudly.  Her sister Tatli is ignoring her and yelling down the telephone at her mother.  My father in law is asleep on my couch with Planet Turk blasting away and the bucket in the middle of the salon catching the dripping water is nearly full.

Yep.  It really is true – shit happens!

Addendum – I actually wrote this yesterday but after I finished tapping out the last exclamation point my SIL arrived on my doorstep.  She too had had a terrible day and she sat at my kitchen bench and cried.  She is tired.  Tired of working hard for little thanks, tired of her family (which probably includes me), of her children (which I for one totally understand) and definitely tired of her shitty life.  As I handed her a glass of cay I realised just how lucky I am.

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The Loco Lodos

It was a Lodos weekend in Istanbul, with the strong, dusty winds from Africa howling up the Bosphorus, sending waves crashing over the shore and forcing the locals indoors to save themselves almost certain doom.

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Like the better known Sirocco or Mistral winds when the Lodos hits with its 90+ kilometre gusts it causes chaos with flights and ferries cancelled as well as numerous car accidents and untold damage to homes and businesses.  Despite the Lodos coming to ruin our fun Daughter and I are hardened Aussies used to some tough weather and really a little breeze wasn’t going to stop us from heading to our first stop, Galata Tower, for the best view over Istanbul.

After climbing one of the seven hills of Istanbul (warn me next time) we then had the pleasure of climbing another two flights of stairs (after catching a lift the first 5 flights) before arriving at the conical cap of Galata Tower.  At the top is a café which was packed with tourists milling about waiting for someone to take the plunge and step out into the lodos.  Daughter didn’t hestitate and threw open the door letting the howling wind into the café and sending shrieks from the café workers to “kapıyı kapattı!” (shut the door!).

I can see why this building served as a watchtower as you really did have an amazing 360 degree view of Istanbul.  No one was going to take Constantinople with this bad boy watching over it (well not until the Ottomans finally did in 1453 anyway).

Daughter and I held onto the fence as we made our way around the tower.  It really was a crazy wind – a loco lodos if you will.  Soon we were followed by others braving the loco lodos all of us laughing and yelling into the wind, daring it if you will to push us around.

istanbul winds

After surviving our first stop it was clear that the lodos was not going to beat us and so, soldiering on we made our way down to the Bosphorus and jumped on what seemed to be the only ferry prepared to leave Kadıköy dock for a three hour cruise.  Well let me tell you Gilligan had it easy compared to what we went through over the next couple of hours.  The boat was really rocking and I now understand why all the sensible captains stayed safely on shore.

istanbul winds 2

The Turkish poet, Ümit Yaşar Oğuzcan, opens his poem “Istanbul Light” with the verses:

Istanbul, the wind

The wind, my love

Sometimes lodos blows from the seas

Oh so warm

Sometimes poyraz blows like a crazed razor

Let your hair down for the windows of Istanbul

You can’t be without love or the wind in this city.

Well I may have survived a Loco Lodos but I’m not sure if I want to meet the “crazed razor” of a Poyraz wind.  Until next time.

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Where’s Wally?

School holidays are upon us here in Turkiye which means it’s been incredibly busy in our neck of the woods, so busy that I haven’t had have time to blog!  OMG!!

Rather than bore you with our usual drama today I have posted some clues as to our recent whereabouts.  Can you guess where we’ve been?

Clue No. 1

This city was once renowned as the most crowded city in the world – in 1502.

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Clue No. 2 – Tulips, the symbol of Holland, originated in this city and were sent to Netherlands.

Istanbul 2

Clue No. 3 – This city has been a noted inspiration for authors from Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway to Orhan Pamuk and Abdülhak Sinasi Hisar.

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Clue No. 4 –  this city was once renowned for having more than 1,400 public toilets!

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Final Clue – this city is the only city in the world that straddles two continents: Asia and Europe.

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I know, I know.  Too easy!

Of course we have been in Istanbul.

As well as visiting our usual haunts we made some new friends (including some fellow bloggers) and, of course, we did a lot of shopping!  The most successful part of this trip was what I found in a Carrefour near Taksim Square.  BACON!!  Yes, bacon!  It may have cost 59TL for 4 pieces but damn we had a great breakfast this morning!  And I will let you in on a little shame secret – I even licked up the oil from the pan.  The look on The Turk’s face said it all – gross!

bacon 1

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Snippets of Wisdom

As an expat from sunny, organised Sydney I grew up very entitled to way things should be done.  Since moving to the melting pot of crazy that is Mersin I have had to learn, and sometimes the hard way, that shit just don’t happen the way it is ought to.  If you are making plans to move to Mersin or in fact to any city in Turkiye my earnest advice to you is this –

mersin

Nothing ever happens according to schedule

The Turkish way of life may seem crazy and hectic but on closer inspection it very much operates on a slower pace than most.  Time management is obviously a course not taught here in Turkey.  Just take it as a given that things don’t happen according to schedule and embrace the chaos.  Save your sanity.  You are going to need it.

The Turks love overcomplicating things

Speaking of schedules if it can be done quickly and efficiently then it is being done wrong and should be thrown out the window.  Who doesn’t love a little red tape with their morning kahve?  Me that’s who!  I have spent more time in notaries, the Emniyet, the Nufus, Polis and any other Government department you can name having papers stamped then running to the other side of the city to pay a lodgement fee (why you cannot pay your lodgement fee at the time of lodgement is completely beyond my pea sized brain’s understanding).  If by chance you are in the right place at the right time then you are dealing with a worker who will no doubt tell you that you do you need additional documents, or additional photos or even additional stamps, to sort out whatever it is that you’re trying to get done.

Don’t forget that everything shuts at lunchtime.  I know!  The idea of going to the bank on your lunch break just doesn’t exist here.  Instead you spend that break standing at the door of whichever bank, post office or Government department in the hope of being the first through when it re-opens an hour later.

Bonus advice –passport sized photos.  Get them.  You have them already?  Pfftt!  Get more.  You are going to need them.

Queuing is not a thing

Ahh how I miss the simplicity of the queue.  Particularly in places like the Emniyet where you may step up to the counter in the Foreigner’s Office only to be inundated by a crowd of sweaty men (generally it is always men) who will yell over you to get their point across.  My advice?  Don’t stand there patiently waiting your turn while the crowd drifts along.  Use your elbow and throw out a curse word in your native tongue on occasion.  It may not help but you will definitely feel better.  Learn to do as they do or you will never see the light of day again.

Personal space is but a pipedream  

Remember that scene from Dirty Dancing “This is your dance space, this is my dance space”?  Yep it doesn’t exist here.  Everything is their dance space.  Your dance space just doesn’t exist.  Sure come and sit next to me.  No don’t be silly, of course a little closer is fine.  Stare at me intently.  Who doesn’t appreciate that?

Family comes first (and sometimes second and third as well)

This is the most important point to learn if you wish to survive here in Mersin (or Turkiye).  If you are fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough depending on how you feel at the time) to be married or living with a Turkish man (or woman I don’t discriminate) remember that their family will become part of your existence.  The love of their family, the strength of this bond is one of the most intense emotions I have ever witnessed.  They idolise their mothers.  She can do no wrong.   Learn to embrace that now or pack up and move back to your point of origin.  Expect them to be on your doorstep at the crack of dawn, to tell you how you should clean your home, how you should cook your meals and how you should raise your child.  Oh and buy yourself a couch that opens to a bed – you are going to need it.

Is there anything you think I have missed?  Let me know below.

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The Silence of the Lambs

I don’t eat an awful lot of meat here in Turkiye.  It just doesn’t have the same taste and consistency and, frankly, my hips are thankful that I give meat a miss more often than not but the one thing I cannot avoid here in the village is my neighbours preparing a Feast of Thanks to Allah.

I always know when a neighbour is preparing a feast.  The huge pots are delivered early in the day to enable a thorough cleaning prior to cooking.  Then sheep, goats and even cows are delivered for inspection before a choice is made.  It is usually at that time I disappear and don’t come back out until morning although yesterday I walked straight past a sacrifice just as it started – devastation.  I understand why an animal is sacrificed.  I understand why it is important to the worshipper but I find the whole practice of an animal being put to death cruel and I choose to not take part in the preparation.  Before you cry “but you still eat meat” yes I do.  I am a hypocrite – I get it.

Bayram feast

The Turk’s family prepared a feast recently in memory of his mother’s passing.  This is called Yas Bayram (mourning bayram).  I know that two sheep lost their life in our driveway and I know that everyone in my family stayed up the whole night to prepare a meal of meat, rice (cous cous) and chickpeas that are then given to neighbours and the less fortunate in Refika’s memory.  I did not eat the meal that was prepared by the family and I apparently offended my sister in law in the process.  I do not regret this decision.  I miss The Turk’s mum a lot, she has a wonderful woman and think her fondly each and every day.  I do not need to take the life of an animal to remember her.

The Turk argues with me that I ate a butt load of meat back in Australia (which is why my butt is now a wide load) but more importantly I need to immerse myself in all aspects of the Turkish culture and take part in these village rituals.  I took part – I helped pay for the feast.  That is more than enough for me.

Growing up in the Sydney suburbs I was not privy to the inner workings of a farm or an abattoir.  Yes I am part of the meat and two veg lifestyle but the meat that I ate was purchased in packages and its blood isn’t staining my driveway.  An animal still died to feed me but not by my hand or by my husband’s hand or a neighbour and certainly not where I can see it die.  I guess you can ignore a lot when it is not in your face.

Daughter has often gone fought with her conscience about eating meat but here in Turkiye she pretty much has become a vegetarian.  She will not eat chicken (as she hears them clucking on every corner).  She will not eat cows or sheep (as they are often in the garden across the street although she will eat a hamburger – go figure) and she will never eat fish (more about the taste than anything else).  She is happy with her decision and I am quite proud of her for standing by her quasi morals (other than the hamburger that is).

I still love a steak and the next time I find myself at the Newport Arms Hotel (best pub lunch in Sydney) I will order the steak with pepper sauce and salad *drool* but here in Turkiye I will continue to maybe pass on the meat depending on each situation but what I wouldn’t do for a pub lunch.   Mmmmm.

Pride and Prejudice – Turkish Style

For the sake of this post the character of Miss Elizabeth Bennett will be portrayed by Daughter.  Mr Darcy is The Boyfriend and Wickham is The Bad Boy/Stalker.

It was a pretty exciting evening at ours on Friday night.  I made Spaghetti and meatballs.  No that was not the exciting part of our evening.

I am well aware that Miss Bennett has a “boyfriend” whom I have named Mr Darcy.  Sidenote: for illustration purposes I have included this photo of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy (definitely the best Mr Darcy).  I still remember seeing this BBC show the first time and going “Woah” when he climbed out of the pond at Pemberley.  Anyway Mr Darcy in this little post goes to the same school as Miss Bennett.  They call each other boyfriend and girlfriend and she has updated her social status appropriately as “In a Relationship”.  Help me please!

Mr Darcy

So Mr Darcy and Miss Bennett continue to flaunt their relationship at school with wistful glances and perhaps a little hand holding as they walk the corridors between class.  While true love blossoms there is a thorn – a thorn who also has love for Miss Bennett but whose affections are not coveted.  Yes. We have a Wickham to our Mr Darcy (so to speak).

Miss Bennett calls him “The Stalker” but let’s stay in character and call him Wickham.  Wickham is in her class and since school started in September he has attempted to gain her favour with bunches of wildflowers on her desk, the occasional chocolate and, yes, even love letters hidden in her school bag.  Miss Bennett does not covert this attention and, in fact, has told Wickham in no uncertain terms to go and get f*cked (definitely not very ladylike) but Wickham perseveres with his unwanted affections.  He sits behind her in class and draws on her school shirt with a permanent marker – “I love you” in English.  His eyes watch her as she is in the school yard with her friends (or with Mr Darcy) and has recently started following her home from school of an evening.  Very stalker-esque yeah?

Miss Bennett has mentioned Wickham to me before.  She told me that she dislikes Wickham immensely and even told me about an altercation a few weeks back between Wickham and Mr Darcy.  I warned Miss Bennett that she should keep away from Wickham and that perhaps he is not a very good friend.  On a serious note as a parent when do you say that a child has crossed the line, that the child’s intense need for friendship has become too unwanted by your child or that his behaviour makes your client feel scared or feel like a victim?  In Turkey children are not taught the same boundaries that are taught at school in Australia.  Is it considered cute when a boy harasses a little girl and follows her home each day? At what point do you say to your daughter – this kid is a psychopath! Run, don’t walk!?!

Anyway on Friday night Wickham followed Miss Bennett home yet again.  Miss Bennett yelled at him to leave her alone but he continued to follow her.  Miss Bennett proceeded to run the last couple of hundred metres passing her Uncle Vito on the way home.  Vito (being Vito) stopped Miss Bennett and, after learning what had happened, chased after Wickham giving him a piece of his mind followed by a fast whooping.  Wickham ran into the darkness in tears while Miss Bennett rushed home yelling about the embarrassment she has suffered.

After a couple of deep breaths we sat down to our spaghetti and meatballs when we had a knock at the door.  The polis had arrived.  It seemed that the whooping Vito gave Wickham had understandably upset his family who also arrived on our doorstep shortly after the polis.  Wickham began yelling about his love for Miss Bennett and the fact that Mr Darcy had stolen Miss Bennett’s heart.  He explained that he had in fact had dibs on Miss Bennett and Mr Darcy should be reprimanded for his behaviour.  Miss Bennett reply was a fast “F-you” (much to my embarrassment and to the shock of the other adults in the room) while Wickham’s parents yelled at Wickham so furiously that I couldn’t even begin to grasp was what being said.  Moments later Vito came running through the door grasping a large stick (no doubt ready to give Wickham another whooping) while the polis tried in vain to calm the whole crazy down.

After a lot of accusations and finger pointing Wickham has agreed to not follow Miss Bennett as she walks home anymore.  The Turk, in his wisdom, has decided to go to the school (yet again) to ensure that Wickham is appropriately dealt with and Vito has promised to not attack children for no good reason (yes I think it was for good reason).

The Turk and I are hopeful that Wickham has learned his lesson.  He will become merely a blip in our memories as Darcy and Miss Bennett continue their fledgling friendship (should I say relationship(?)) into the future.  Finally we are all hopeful that Vito refrains from chasing children with sticks.

Never a dull moment in our house – for sure.

Turkiye’s Very Own Polar Vortex

In case you have been living under a rock the past few days social media in Turkiye has been blowing up with both the expats and Turks alike going on about the crazy cold weather we are having right now.  Soğuk, çok soğuk! (It’s cold, very cold!). Talk about “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, Turkiye goes and freezes over just to be like their fancy neighbours.

All over the country the weather has been abysmal.  Villages and towns have been snowed in, flights cancelled and even here in Mersin hell has literally frozen over.  I mean really – it snowed!  I know right!?!

Mersin snow

This shouldn’t happen.  I was only writing here about how hot it was a couple of months back.  This is an extreme turnaround and it really isn’t acceptable to me.

Electricity is scant and this transforms The Turk from his manly man Turkish self into, well, into a bit of a girly princess.  As expected this transformation has also pushed The Turk into his “I want to go back to Australia” phase of his re-entry into Turkish life.  We don’t have a soba here (Turkish fireplace) so when the electricity dies then icicles begin to form over any uncovered appendage.  The Turk is definitely concerned about his favourite appendage freezing and breaking off and has been checking it regularly.  Last night I threatened to move into the Hilton just for a hot bath and internet access (side note – what is it with Turkey not having instantaneous hot water?  Install a fecking Rheem for Christ’s sake!!).  But no I stayed and suffered in silence, well relative silence compared to The Turk that’s for sure!

But it is not just us who are suffering in the cold.  I feel for the stray animals that live in our village.  The kediler are breaking into any house with an open door trying to find a warm spot and I swear I saw a pack of kopekler milling around an open fire on an empty block.  I am not going to say that they started the fire but … it looked very suspicious.  My Hurley Dog is refusing to go outside and when I finally got him outside his pee froze mid-stream!  True!  I swear!!

I know I am ridiculous.

Yesterday was my birthday.  Did you know?  Yah happy birthday and all that!  I made a pretty strong statement on FB the other night saying it might be cold but there’s no way it will snow and certainly not on my birthday.  I will eat my hat.  Well as I was reminded by a well-wisher yesterday that it did in fact snow – soooo – would I like fries with that hat?  Humfph!  The Turk also reminded me of my wording off this morning and handed me his beanie and the salt and pepper shakers.  I didn’t eat it as that was his hat.  I agreed to eat mine.  Technicality?  Yep but I am going with it.

So happy birthday to me – and welcome to the Ice Age!  Bbrrrr!

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