Dog Tired

Growing up in a very small family we did not have the social interaction that I have now in Turkey.  There was just me, my brother, my Mum and Dad.  Just the four of us.  On occasion we socialised with our neighbours or with a few close family friends but the constant of social activity just did not exist in my world.  Even as an adult I still lived by that creed.  I would socialise with my family, my neighbours or a few close family friends.  

Now I find myself in what could possibly be described as a nightmare.  A never ending party.  Do not get me wrong – I love a good party.  I love a night out.  I love going to my friend’s house or to a neighbour’s house for dinner but I also need time for me.  Oh and I need to sleep too.

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No one ever seems to sleep here.  They are up at the crack of dawn (which suits me as I am usually up very early too – residual from my time working in a law firm) but as I get up early I like to retire early.  I like to watch a show, read a good book and then lights out by 10.  Some would call me “dull”.  I call myself “sensible”.  Your body needs a good 8 hours sleep after all.

With Seker Bayrami in full swing the last few days has been filled with social activity.  I have been to parties, visiting family, visiting friends, visiting cemeteries.  I have been to BBQ’s.  I have been to the beach.  Two restaurants and even a club.  I find myself going out for ice cream each night (but not before midnight) and I have not gone to bed before 3 or 4 am.  

This is not me.  I don’t know who this is but it is definitely not me.  I am shattered.  Dog tired.  I need some quiet time and I look around me at these happy, smiling faces and ask myself, “How on earth do these people keep doing this day after day after day?”  In particular the kids.  None of them go to bed before midnight.  Young or old they all stay up until whenever and run around in the darkness.  Daughter looks like hell.  Honestly.  Her and her cousins stay up all night watching movies, giggling and gossiping.  She just left now on her bike to go to a friend’s house.  She was in tears.  She was Miss Cranky Pants.  She will not admit to being tired but she is.  She stubbornly won’t listen to me or to The Turk and she pushes herself to keep up with everyone but I can see the outcome.  She is going to crash and burn.  Probably soon and I don’t think I want to be around when Daughter has her meltdown.  

I can hear The Turk talking with his sister downstairs.  They want to walk to their Aunt’s house for cay.  Yes!  Go.  Take your time.  Stay all afternoon if you like for I am going to sleep.

Goodnight.

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Festival of Sweets

The month long fast of Ramazan concludes with a three day national holday of Ramazan Bayrami (Arabic – Eid al-Fitr) and is one of the Islamic calendar’s major holidays.  This three day holiday is full of family time, fun and food! 

Ramazan Bayrami is, of course, a religious celebration.  It is a festival to restore oneself after the fasting and growth of Ramazan.  It is also called Seker Bayrami (Festival of Sweets) and the number one thing that I have learnt is to have sweets on hand.  Lots and lots of sweets.  This is to fulfil the tradition of children going around the neighbourhood wishing people a happy bayram.  As a reward they receive a sweet, a lolly or even a coin. seker

We too would visit family members and in particular the older generation.  We kiss their hand and place it on our forehead as is custom to show respect.  We greet them with “Bayrammiz Kutlu”.  We also take time to visit those who are deceased and visit the cemetery as a sign of respect.

As it is a national holiday everyone in the family has been at home which means we have had a lot of BBQ’s and outings as a group.  These few days reminds me of how Christians would celebrate Christmas and I must say that Seker Bayrami is definitely high on my list of excellent fun in Turkey. 

Be aware that during any national holiday most shops, banks and government offices are closed and leading up to Bayram the shopping centres and banks are overflowing with people stocking up on everything they will need over the coming festival days.  There is also a lot of people on the roads with family members travelling great distances to visit loved ones.  Intercity buses are packed and public transport operates on a holiday schedule so you may find yourself waiting some time for a dolmus (I know I did).  

Hey Berat! Why be an asshole?

On Wednesday Daughter and I took Daughter’s favourite cousin Tatlim to Kizkalesi for the day.  It has been a few months since our last visit to my favourite beach but this time was no quiet visit.  The beach was full.  Music was blasting from every doorway.  Restaurants and hotels were at capacity and teenage boys could be found on every street corner chatting up every female who walks past.

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After staking out our space on the packed beach Daughter and Tatlim disappeared into the water leaving me to laze away in the sunshine.  Goodness it was hot.  I did what I do best and that is watching the world go by.  Vendors were everywhere touting their goods including su (water), çay, Nescafe, misir (corn on the cob) and even balik (fish) were all on offer for a price.  There were women strutting in bikinis, old men covered in sand (a strange Turkish tradition) and little kids playing on the water’s edge under a guardian’s careful eye.   This is what living in Turkey is all about.

Tatlim had never been to the Castle on the sea so we hopped the ferry (20TL for 3 people) over to the island.  Daughter and her cousin went off to explore leaving me to thoroughly examine the mosaics (Daughter always knows how to make me happy). 

The only blight on an otherwise perfect day was the excessive amount of new graffiti that has appeared throughout the castle since my last visit.  I had noticed it before but the sheer number of tags (Daughter tells me that this is the correct terminology) throughout the castle is deeply disappointing.  The local belediye (council) is attempting to combat the problem with security guards now roaming throughout the little island but my guess is that they just cannot be everywhere at once plus their time is also spent patching up swimmers who injure themselves on the rocks surrounding the castle plus picking up garbage and cleaning up after people *sigh*.

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The thought of these idiots defacing a beautiful piece of history is repugnant to me.  It’s not just at Kizkalesi though.  I recall seeing tags on the ruins at Soli Pompeiopolis as well.  Mersin (and Turkish) authorities have been trying for a long time to cope with not just damage to antiquities but also the theft of their treasures. 

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So I write this to you Berat or Mehmet, Fatih and any other tagging asshole currently skulking around in my general vicinity.  Firstly, how stupid are you to spraypaint your name?  Dumbass.  Secondly, be thankful that it is not I who catches you because I would give you a whopping and send you home to your parents with your spray can shoved where the sun does not shine.  And no i am not joking!

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The List

I questioned whether it would be appropriate to hand out little sticks of deodorant while riding a dolmuş this week in Mersin.  There is some major reeking going on at the moment and you just cannot escape from it.  I actually threw up a little bit in my mouth the stench was so foul!

The Turk who really cannot tell when I am being facetious solemnly tells me that I am being rude but I kind of think I am doing everyone a favour.  I mean we do not want the dolmuş driver to faint from the odour do we?

The Turk and I then had a little bit of banter that went something like this:

Me:  “You know it’s not that hard to keep the B.O. at bay.  Look at Cameron Diaz.  She doesn’t wear deodorant.  True!  All these people have to do is wipe.  Like your ass but you do it under your arms.  It’s easy.”

Background information – The Turk is completely and utterly in love with Cameron Diaz.  I personally don’t get it but she is on The List.  What is The List?  The list is a free pass to sleep with that person if the opportunity ever arises.  I am pretty sure he will not have a hope in hell of ever sleeping with Cameron Diaz (frankly I think she would have better taste even without deodorant).  His list also includes Sharon Stone – again an unusual choice.  My List is even shorter.  It’s Brad Pitt.  Yep.  I think if he dumped Angelina and somehow found himself wandering down the street in the Village and came knocking on my front door he would discover that I was his perfect match and we would live happily ever after.  Oh and I think he would make a great step-father for Daughter.  Daughter is happy with that arrangement too as it means she can go shopping all the time.

The List

Back to our banter:

Me:  Blah, blah, blah.  Cameron Diaz.

The Turk:  She does not smell.  Her scent would be like a flower or a ray of sunshine.  (No shit, that is what he said).

Me:  Dude.  Everyone stinks.  Feet stink, undies stink, breath stinks.  Cameron Diaz is no different.

The Turk:  You stink!  (Maturity level showing).

Me (voice slightly raised):  Yep and so does every other feking person on this dolmuş and IF Cameron Diaz was on this dolmuş she would be stinking it up too because she doesn’t wear deodorant!

It seems we are both pretty mature because I poked my tongue out at this point and he stuck his finger up at me.  If Cameron Diaz or Brad Pitt do ever turn up on our doorsteps they are both going to be in for a treat!

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Traversing Tarsus

When I was young I watched the movie “Cleopatra” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  This movie embedded the idea of wanting to have it all.  Be an amazing woman and have that once in a lifetime romance. 

Fast forward a couple *cough cough* of years and here I am living my life being totally amazing and I got my Marc Antony (of sorts) as well.  So not only did I get my dream I now live my life not far from the city of Tarsus where, according to legend, Cleopatra was reunited with her lover after a separation of many years.  “If the tent is a rocking, don’t bother knocking.”

Tarsus is located smack dab between Mersin and Adana and, over the years, I have passed by the city while on my many travels but I have never stopped to have a look around.  Just before my overseas jaunt I found myself spending the day in Tarsus with The Turk and I can say without question this city is overflowing with historical and theological ruins. 

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My first stop was, of course, Cleopatra Kapisi (Cleopatra’s Gate).  Legend has it that this was the spot where Marc Antony was reunited with Cleopatra.  A romantic notion.  The Gate is pretty much still intact, standing strong just like their love although, of course, she drove Marc Antony to suicide before killing herself but, before that, they had a powerful love for each other.  Very Romeo and Juliet. 

Not all sites are walking distance but from Cleopatra’s Gate do a 180 and pass the Gözlükule Tumulus (mound).  Not an awful lot to see now (it forms part of a park) but this tumulus shows settlement in the Neolithic and ancient age.   Turning back and after passing the Tarsus Museum (we didn’t have time to visit on this trip) before arriving at the Antik Yol (Ancient Road) and Roman city excavation.  This excavation has been going on for some time and is a great example of Roman roads and architecture. 

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 A few more minutes will bring you to Paul of Tarsus Church and Well.  Who is Paul?  Theologians are already rubbing their hands in glee at this point.  Paul or Saul as he was also known is, of course, St Paul or Paul the Apostle and was born in the ancient city of Tarsus.  Now I do not know a lot (read that as anything) about the Bible or St Paul (or Saul) but according to the guide at St Paul’s Church he apparently wrote 13 of the 21 New Testament Epistles.  Along with the Church is St Paul’s Well which is over 100 feet deep with fresh drinking water.  Will it miraculously heal you?  Nah – it’s just a well but you can have a sip.

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As you wander in this area have a look at all the historic houses.  These are a good example of how Tarsus would have looked in the past, in its glory in the old city.  The markets are also close to the Mosque, both definitely worth visiting if you get the opportunity.

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Before we left Tarsus we stopped by the old Roman bridge before making our way to the Tarsus Waterfalls for cay and cezeryea (caramelised carrots with pistacios and nuts).  The waterfalls were tranquil and very beautiful and the cay and cezeryea was refreshing and tasty.  The waiter who brought us our treat informed me that the cezeryea is thought to be an aphrodisiac.  The Turk laughed and replied, “Don’t tell her that, she won’t eat it!”  Too true Turkey Boy.

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Tarsus packed a great little punch for a tourist and definitely worth stopping by if you are passing through to Adana or westward to the beaches.  We ran out of time to visit the Cave of Seven Sleepers and we also did not see the Prophet Daniel’s grave (of Daniel and the Lion’s fame) which is supposedly located inside Makim Mosque.  so do yourself a favour people.  Visit Tarsus.

I am a Selfish Bitch (apparently)

The heading speaks for itself people.  I am a Selfish Bitch.  Apparently.  The Turk informed me of such this morning so it must be true.  See this is where he and I differ in opinion because I always thought that I was pretty awesome.  I have been known to high-5 myself on occasion for my awesomeness.  I help others.  I give to causes.  I am totally generous.  Selfish bitch?  Nope.  Doesn’t really sound like me.

He didn’t really mean it, The Turk.  He was just a little exasperated with me this morning that’s all.  Let me explain.

selfish bitch

On Tuesday morning I woke at the crack of dawn suffering from the succubus that is jetlag.  It usually takes me days to get over it so there I was feeling like crap and desperately needing a cup of tea to jolt my body awake.  Having successfully made my tea (remember Turkish tea is a drama in itself) I made my way outside onto our terrace intending to watch the sun rise over the village when it happened. 

I looked around and . . . what?  Where the fek is my feking terribly expensive outdoor furniture?  It had disappeared.  Were we robbed?  Doubtful.  Was it there last night?  Dunno.  Like an idiot I looked left and right.  Nope.  I stuck my head back through the door into the living room.  Not there.  I started back inside when my eyes were drawn to Vito’s home next door.  Immediate brain fart!  There’s my feking terribly expensive feking furniture!  What the holy hell?

Living here in Turkey I have learnt that it is not unusual to do a solid and lend something to a neighbour or a relative or even the man that lives on the other side of the village and it will definitely be returned with thanks (well mostly anyway).  I get it and I am totally on board with this arrangement but when I went downstairs to examine my terribly expensive outdoor furniture it was looking more than a little worse for wear with oil splatters on the table, stains on my cushions and even a cigarette burn or two.  Fek! 

I did not lose my temper.  I did not have a fit.  I merely asked The Turk for my terribly expensive outdoor furniture to be returned to its rightful place however it had not appeared before I went to bed on Tuesday evening.  The Turk guaranteed that it would be returned on Wednesday morning as soon as Vito returned home from work.  Wednesday came and went and again despite my request for the return of my terribly expensive outdoor furniture my terrace was still looking bare and sad.  What made it worse was that Vito had some friends over Wednesday (last) night and I watched them stealth-like through my window fuming and spitting fire while they lounged all over my terribly expensive outdoor furniture like they were the feking Queen of England, smoking their cigarettes and no doubt dropping more crap all over it! I was losing my shit people!

This morning I again asked for my terribly expensive outdoor furniture to be returned and that is when The Turk cracked it.  After calling me a selfish bitch he suggested that if I wanted my terribly expensive outdoor furniture back then I should go and ask for it myself!  The thing is that after being married to The Turk for over 12 years I know too well that when he starts throwing around insults it means that he is attempting to deflect an issue that he does not want to deal with.  Ah ha!  He did not want to ask his brother for the return of the terribly expensive outdoor furniture.  He was embarrassed.  We’ll fek it!  I’ll feking ask him! 

And ask him I did.  Vito might have ummed and aahhed after I knocked on his door this morning but when I returned from the market I found The Turk on the terrace relaxing comfortably on my terribly expensive, albeit now slightly marked, outdoor furniture.  “Darling, would you like a cup of tea?” he says. 

So there you have it.  I might be a selfish bitch although I really don’t see it that way.  It’s one thing to borrow a book, or a frypan but another thing all together to borrow furniture with little or no intention of returning it.  The Turk is happy though.  My terribly expensive outdoor furniture has been returned and he is not the bad guy.  I am.  I am a selfish bitch but whatever.  I am still awesome though.

The Return

Daughter and I have finally settled back in from our holiday in Australia.  Visiting Australia.  I was a visitor, a tourist if you must, visiting the place of my birth and what I have learnt from this visit?  I learnt that Sydney and Australia is a fecking beaut place to live.

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Mother nature did us a major and the weather was sensational.  It didn’t rain.  It didn’t even think about raining.  Beautiful, albeit cold, winter days.  Every day.  Fresh air.  Lush gardens.  Grass.  GRASS!  We are the only people in the Village with grass in our garden.  Grass is, of course, seen as a luxury item as everyone else utilises every inch of their land.  Deli yabanciler (crazy foreigners).

It was nice to not be on the cusp of a war zone too staying in beachside Collaroy.  Yes I gloss over Syria and its issues but Mersin is approximately 150k from the Syrian border.  We are safe obviously or I would not even think about living here but there is always an underlying threat, the knowledge I guess, that we are not too far from an area of such unrest.  Plus there is the whole Israel-Palestinian issue, the Middle East is a powder keg ready to blow and even Ukraine to the north is a mess.  Bloody hell!

Friends and family of course.  Obviously Australia wins on this front as well.  I am blessed to have some of the best friends in the world.  Friends that are always there with open arms.  What I wouldn’t do for one more boozy lunch or one more hug from my girls.  Of course this is difficult for Daughter as she has her family, her cousins that she adores, in the Village.  She has many friends in the Village but for me Sydney and Australia will win every single time.

friends

Speaking of boozy lunches I don’t think you can beat an Aussie Red.  Australian wines really are some of the best in the world.  I would go so far as saying that Turkish wine is swill at best and really, really expensive!

Medical care wins in Australia over Turkey as well (well duh!).  Australia has Government facilitated Medicare and even though you pay through the tooth for many things (including the dentist) visiting the doctor here is a much easier process (mainly because everyone speaks English).  So I am now drugged up for the next 12 months (my medicine cabinet is overflowing) and I have been poked and prodded and given a clean bill of health.

Shopping was a bonus too for me in Sydney.  My Rubenesque physique is now adorned in new clothes.  Oodles of new clothes.  I no longer need to wear the same jeans every single day.  My credit card did take a beating and we did have to send home 10 kilos by post but at least I now have an outfit for any occasion which is a good thing as we have at least 4 weddings to go to over the coming weeks.  Daughter’s opinion differs on this front as well as the styles in Turkey are a lot more varied and on trend.  For Daughter clothing in Turkiye is also a LOT cheaper as well.

Bacon.  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  Winner!!!  Lots of exclamation points here.  Yes.  Bacon.  That is all.

bacon

Sydney did have a few downsides too.  It was so damn expensive.  Food was expensive.  Clothing was expensive.  Petrol was expensive (actually petrol is expensive in Turkey too).  I guess I have had it too cushy here in Turkey with 50 kuruş for 1 kilo of tomatoes (about AU$0.25) while they were AU$4.50 in Sydney (TL9).  Plus the fresh food is not particularly fresh.  Ick!

Peak hour traffic did my head in too.  What a bloody mess.  We had a few early morning starts and fighting my way from the Northern Beaches to the City was diabolical to say the least.  It was nice to be behind the wheel again although my first few attempts at parking were a little less than successful.  Daughter likened my parking skills to a Turkish person so I really have acclimated haven’t I?

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I think I can sum Sydney up as “Real Life”.  My friends are all working.  My family are all busy (some might say too busy to find the time to see me or even call).  The cost of living is high and the stress levels are even higher.  I know that if I too were living in Sydney I would be working.  My stress levels would be off the chart (visiting my old place of work proved that beyond the shadow of a doubt) and Daughter, The Turk and I would be miserable.  Real life sux!

The Village also has another bonus (well along with The Turk).  It has My Hurley Dog.  I love My Hurley Dog.  I missed My Hurley Dog and he missed me!

Hurley

 

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Tale of Two Cities

It seems that I am an expat caught between my two loves, Sydney and Mersin.  I have always felt distinctly at home in Mersin but returning to Sydney, my homeland, has brought back dwindling thoughts, self doubt and mixed feelings.

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I definitely loved my time in Sydney and Daughter and I hit the ground running.  We found ourselves with a frantic social life during our visit and it became increasingly difficult to fit in all my friends when I had to share my precious, precious time with Daughter and all of her social activities.  I swear since stepping off the plane her damn mobile did not stopped beeping, buzzing or ringing with her friends constantly arranging visits, movies, lunches, sleepovers and any other activity that you can think of. The squeals and “Oh. My. God’s” that I have had to endure has been soul numbing.  I guess I don’t really notice the squeals and “Oh. My. God’s” when they are in Turkish.

Fitting everything in required precision timing.  Morning, lunch and evening slots were allocated.  Daughter likened this “holiday” to a business trip with us running from one meeting to another.  I have missed out on catching up with a few friends that I really wanted to see and I quickly realised that 3 weeks in Sydney is just is not enough time.  Friends that live on the other side of Sydney or friends that live just up the coast missed out and I feel incredibly sad.  I am thinking of two of my friends in particular right now but honestly we just ran out of time. Plus I got sick.  I am still sick.  Damn flu. Damn sickness.  Damn it!

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Have I had my bacon?  Yep.  Practically every day.  I think I have put on 4 kilos.  It feels like 8 kilos.  We did have a bacon situation that practically caused an international incident at a restaurant in The Rocks that caused Daughter to update her Facebook status thusly:

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

We have also done a few touristy things which is nice.  It reminds me just how wonderful Sydney is.  It reminds me just how much I miss this beautiful city.

Sydney

It has been a frantic few weeks.  It has been a wonderful few weeks.  Early breakfasts, brunches and lunches, dinners and sleepovers.  I could go on.  It has been impossibly fun.  I need to go home to Mersin for a holiday from our holiday.

Now our time in Sydney has just about come to an end.  I am becoming increasingly forlorn and not just because I cannot fit everything into our suitcases.  I just want one more lunch, one more drink, one more chorus.   I am an expat torn between two loves.

 

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