No Touching Please – I’m Australian

I have never been a big fan over overfamiliarity.  No unnecessary hugging or kissing or . . . look just get out of my dance space okay?

Here in Turkey it is in fact unusual to not be overly familiar with people.  A “gunaydin” (“Good morning”) is usually accompanied with a kiss on both cheeks and a hug for good measure.  The first time it happened I stiffened like a board but now I have come to accept (albeit reluctantly) that friends or strangers alike they will come at you whether you want them to or not.

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It is also absolutely acceptable to give a kiss or a hug to a stranger’s child, which would not only be be unheard of back in Australia., you would probably be arrested for it!

The first time I took Daughter to Turkey she was 10 weeks old.  The Turk did not yet have a visa and so I was taking her to meet her father.  It was a 27 hour flight from whoa to go – Sydney/Bangkok/Istanbul/Bodrum.  By the time I reached Istanbul I was haggard.  Travelling as a single mother was extremely challenging particularly with the precious little package that I had with me.  Arriving in Istanbul I had a 4 hour wait for my connection to Bodrum.  I sat with Daughter in my arms on a chair and promptly passed out from exhaustion.  When I awoke Daughter was no longer in my arms.  She had been kidnapped by the elderly Turkish lady sitting next to me who kept her for the whole flight and at one point I wondered if she was ever going to give her back.  Luckily The Turk was waiting and she reluctantly handed Daughter over to him but not before she kissed, cuddled and thoroughly examined her.

Daughter also has her own issue with the overfamiliarity.  It seems that not only do her friends in the village school greet each other every morning with kisses and hugs it is also not unusual for a teacher to hug or kiss a student – certainly not what this Aussie kid is used to and it made me say “Yikes” when I found out!

Over the past week I have probably kissed and hugged over 1000 people which, putting aside my non-touching issues also brings up my germaphobe issues.  People – keep your hands and lips to yourself.  It’s the flu season.  I have run out of my Dettol hand sanitizer and I am now having a general melt down.  The Turk is sick, Daughter sounds like she is hocking up a lung and I am running around with my Eucalyptus spray wiping down every hard surface that they touch.

15 thoughts on “No Touching Please – I’m Australian

  1. I’m not a hugger either and tend to freeze with strangers. Years ago I had to go to Europe on business with my boss and hit 3 countries in 3 days. Loads of kisses on cheeks but luckily having spoken to them on the phone for months beforehand, at least they weren’t strangers to me!

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  2. I agree. Since we’ve moved overseas and have friends from all over I’m totally personal space confused…do I shake hands, shake hands with a click, kiss once..twice…three times…my Italian friend kisses four! Funnily enough, with my oldest friends, we barely touch at all.

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  3. I can totally sympathize with that! Just this morning a Turkish colleague brought here baby to the office and everyone here has kissed and hugged the boy and he’s been taken around the whole floor into every office. I think the kids who grow up in this collectivist culture are used to being held and fussed over by strangers although I kept expecting him to rebel and start cryingfor his mum. Never happened. Also, a colleague just gave me a piece of his orange which is very nice and generous but he used his hand to divide the orange and he’s had a cold for days. Now, if I don’t eat this orange I`ll look mean and petty and if I do I`ll probably get his cold!

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