Have a dose of what life is really like living here – from my single-handed destruction of the Turkish language, random arguments with random relatives about everything from apples to vaginas to learning the secrets to making the perfect içli köfte! Highs or lows this is my observations from the melting pot of crazy that is my life in Mersin.
A couple of weeks before The Turk left for Australia he and I were in Carsi doing some shopping when he was mobbed. By women. Yes. Seriously! Well it was only two women but it was still a mobbing. It seems that The Turk looks something similar to Cem Özer who is a famous actor here in Turkey. Why these women chose that particular moment to mob him I do not know. Perhaps the real actor was in Mersin or perhaps these women momentarily lost their senses but regardless they made The Turk’s day. Does he look like Cem Özer? You be the judge.
There is a vague resemblance I guess. Squint your eyes, have a glass of red and you can definitely see the similarities!
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I’ve talked before about holiday romances, Turkish men and the heartache that they can cause. In fact my Love Rat post was, and still is, the post with the most views since I began this little blog. I want to declare right here, right now, men are just men. They are not from Mars. They are not made up any differently to us they just have an extra chromosome (and an extra rib). To put it simply: there are some good ones and there are some bad ones. They can be your best friend but they can just as easily break your heart.
With summer now at an end the Turkish forums are full of love rats and stories of woe. Yes there are love rats here in Turkey but they are also located in France, Italy, the US, Australia – hell they are everywhere! But this story is about my friend Evie who knows I am writing this. She wants people to read it, to not make the same mistakes. She has/had a love rat and and that love rat that just so happened to be … Turkish.
I met Evelyn (Evie) at a shopping centre here in Mersin about 6 months ago. She had moved here from northern England to be with her handsome and *cough, cough* somewhat slightly younger man that she met whilst holidaying in Antalya in June last year. After many emails, Skype dates and telephone calls Evie packed up her life and moved to Mersin.
It has not been easy for Evie. She did not speak Turkish at all (I feel her pain). She could not work as she did not have the right visa and she found it incredibly difficult to make friends here. I totally related with her after all Mersin is definitely no tourist destination and expats are as scares as hen’s teeth. As we were both in the same boat Evie and I quickly developed a close friendship and she became a frequent visitor to our home here in the Village and I at her home in Pozcu. Her fiancé, Mehmet (name has been changed to protect the not so innocent), seemed nice enough I guess. Definitely younger and it was clear to me that perhaps the infatuation did not run as deep as it did for Evie. It certainly made for a difficult visit when she brought him over one night before The Turk left for Australia as The Turk is quite intuitive and could see right away that Mehmet was not deeply in love. In fact when they went outside to smoke on our terrace their conversation that began in low voices quickly escalated loudly enough for me to go out and investigate. Needless to say The Turk was not impressed with Mehmet.
Two nights ago Evi arrived on my doorstep unannounced. It was pretty crazy at our house with The Turk having taken ill back in Sydney but Evi needed my help NOW! Mehmet had gone. Where? She did not know. All of his personal effects were gone, most of the furniture was gone and the rent had not been paid on their apartment for the past two months. She had left that morning to go to the shops at Mehmet’s suggestion. She had been gone no more than 3 hours. How is this possible? She was bereft. Her heart was broken.
Right now I am steaming mad. I am mad at myself for not saying something to Evie when I first had doubts. I am devastated that my friend has had to find out that the man that she loved was not who he seemed and that the love that she thought they had meant little or perhaps nothing at all to him. Evie was planning her wedding and Mehmet was planning his escape.
Over breakfast this morning she asked, “How could I not see him for who he was?”
It’s simple. L.O.V.E. We’ve all been there. You meet someone. He sweeps you off his feet with the romance that has been missing in your life. Walks along the beach. Whispering sweet nothings in your ear. The best sex you have ever had! Oh yeah! Seni cok seviyorum. I used to laugh at The Turk when he threw “I love you” at me every 5 minutes when we first got together. But he still managed to cast his spell and I was smitten.
Two different cultures, two different countries. Just too different.
Yesterday I was sitting at home watching Deniz Yildisi, a Turkish soap opera which is seriously the craziest soapy I have ever seen. Melodramatic chaos. Seriously this show (like most Turkish soapies) has it all. Cheating spouses. Murder. Bedlam. Chaos. It doesn’t have a psychotic doll that has come to life (ie Timmy from Passions – anybody remember that show?) but, honestly, Deniz Yildisi is some sensational, not to be missed, viewing!
Anyway the telephone rings. It is The Turk – “Darling. I am in hospital.”
It seems that The Turk who is currently Down Under has had a little, tiny heart incident. He thinks it might have been a heart attack. Feck! Now I know that I joke about The Turk and half the time I want to literally kill him but I don’t really want to see him dead. Not at all (well maybe a little bit). I begin to sweat. What do I do?
I hung up on The Turk and then rang the hospital and finally was put through to his doctor who was extremely helpful. She told me that he had had chest pains. Now The Turk being The Turk usually ignores any type of ailment from tooth aches (ignored until it becomes an abscess which has to be dealt with on Christmas Day!) to back aches (I can still work with a slipped disc can’t I?) and no doubt he ignored the chest pain as well. I am thankful that his friend had the sense to get him to the hospital as I am quite certain that The Turk would have ignored the pain if he was here in Mersin. He probably would have shrugged it off and lit a cigarette instead. The doctor then tells me that after a plethora of tests they diagnosed a chronic stable angina and will insert a stent in his heart as he has a blockage. Ah. My. God!
Poor little thing. Meek as a kitten, wanting to come home. So the stent is being inserted today (apparently a very simple procedure) and he will have to wait 4 weeks to see the cardiologist but then he can get his ass back to Mersin.
I think I can safely say that once back in the fold of his family The Turk will never leave home again!
Now I don’t know what the correct etiquette is in this situation but let me tell you a story and perhaps you, my dear and favoured readers, can give me some advice.
Over the past six months I have been photographing my zeytin ağaci (olive tree) in my garden with the intent of showing my olives growth, change of colour, harvest and finally the curing of my olives.
The past few weeks I have been keeping a close eye on the olives as they were looking pretty good and, in fact, I asked The Turk prior to him leaving for Oz as to when I should harvest. “Give it two weeks,” was his reply.
So today I went out to my olive tree, my big beautiful olive tree and … my olives have been pilfered! How is this possible? How did I not notice that the olives were gone? I mean I must be pretty oblivious sitting here typing away on the computer and not hearing or seeing what is no doubt going on right under my nose.
I feel violated. Robbed of what could potentially be my best blog post. I had researched the best way to cure olives and also researched some quick solutions for curing (including fast curing in the oven). I was going to bring you some amazing pieces about my olives but now I have hiçbir şey (nothing at all).
After some nosing around I found out that my sister in law harvested the olives last weekend and has already begun the curing process. Next year then.
But let’s just look at my olive tree over the months shall we? April – little tiny buds. Spring has sprung and the olives are just starting to push through to reach that precious, precious sunshine. May – I can see it, there will be olives. They will no doubt be delicious because I am going to cure them and make them my own. June – yep, keep it coming little olives. I see you are trying your hardest to be the biggest, juiciest olives ever seen in the Village. July – I think you WILL be the biggest, juiciest olives ever seen not just in the Village but in all of Turkiye. Champion olives! And finally August – you will soon be in my tummy! Or not!
Don’t fret though gentle readers I still have my bibersalçası (pepper sauce) that is currently drying out in the sunshine upstairs. I will give you a blow by blow account of that soon enough (assuming someone doesn’t swipe my sauce under the cover of night).
So what do you think I should do? Let it go? Say something? I am at an impasse. I know, I know I will have many opportunities to cure my olives and I appreciate that my sister in law was trying to help but I really wanted to try and do this myself. Bilmiyorum.
Upfront – this is my personal opinion. We all have them.
No doubt many of you are already aware that on Thursday the Australian Federal Police thwarted a terrorist plan by ISIS (now Islamic State) members to kidnap a random member of the public, drape them in the Islamic flag and behead him/her on camera. Holy shit! This is not Australia! I cannot believe that this is even a possibility in Australia.
Since Thursday my social media (and for that matter Australian mainstream media) has exploded in anti-Muslim sentiment. I feel I have to ask “what is happening to Australia as a nation”?
I always believed that Australia is the most tolerant country with the most tolerant citizens on earth. Sure like all families we argue but then we have a beer and all is forgiven. Today I wonder if I am mistaken of our tolerance (Cronulla Australia Day riots aside).
Please remember not all Muslims are extremists!
Do we judge a religion by the actions of those who use and twist it’s meaning to support their extreme actions? If so where do we stop?
Shall we take the view that all Christians are evil given the findings of a Royal Commission into institutionalised child abuse? Or the deceit by Australian’s own Christian Prime Minister as common to all?
I agree wholeheartedly that people living in a country that is not their own (me included) should abide by the laws of that country and should conduct themselves in a manner that is acceptable to their adopted homeland. If you do not abide by the laws of your adopted homeland then your visa or your citizenship should be revoked and you removed from that country immediately. Simple.
Islamic State is a growing concern to all around the world. In Turkey there is a very real concern that IS has infiltrated the country with 20+ car bombs and suicide bombers. A very real concern by IS to attack, maim and murder Turkish Muslims. [Today’s Zaman]
Australia is a nation where we are all immigrants (other than our indigenous Aboriginals). 40 years ago it was the Wops, 20 years ago it was the Asians and today it is Muslim people who suffer from intolerance by a small minority of people. According to the 2011 census, 476,291 people, or 2.2% of the total Australian population, were Muslims. On Thursday 14 men were detained, not 476,291.
Where there is fear there is radical behaviour, by all of us.
With Daughter now back at the village school and with The Turk in the Land Down Under I find that some spare time on my hands. What to do? What to do? I could lie in the sunshine and work on my tan? Or I could go for lunch at the Marina or Forum with friends? Nah. I need to do something constructive with my free time and so I decided on having some private Turkish lessons with Daughter’s Turkish tutor.
Daughter’s tutor is a cousin of a cousin of a cousin or something and is absolutely a delight. She was recommended to us by an English teacher from one of the private schools in Mersin but we seriously hit the payload when we realised that she was related and not just some random teacher. Bonus! Her enthusiasm to teach Daughter has made it a breeze for her to pick up the language and Daughter loves her because she is young, beautiful and funky. She and Daughter bonded over their mutual love of Starbucks and shopping! If only all teachers could be Ipek!
I admit that hang my head in shame knowing that I have been in the country for over a year and my Turkish is still ridiculously bad. I had every intention of enrolling at Mersin University and taking Turkish classes (also a great way to meet other expats) but the idea of making my way on two buses at the crack of dawn 4 days a week did not inspire me to learn. I had also assumed that immersing in the language would mean that I would pick up the skills in no time. Yep. Nope. I just did not realise it was going to be quite so hard.
In just one lesson I have learned that half of what comes out of my mouth is complete gibberish and it explains why Daughter gets so darn embarrassed when I attempt to speak in public. We end up coming to blows most of the time because she is embarrassed by me and I am annoyed at her attitude in return. Last weekend we were on the dolmus and usually I leave it to Daughter to ask them to pull over but I thought I would have a go and ask the driver myself. “Musait bir yer“. I sounded great. Well I thought I sounded great anyway. Daughter said I sounded like I was speaking an Alien language and now, after my first lesson with Ipek, I realise I was speaking an Alien language. I sounded like a dead set goose. Incidentally musait bir yer does not say “stop the bus” or “let me off” it translates literally to “suitable a place”. Can you see why I am having difficulties. Who talks like that (other than Yoda and Google translate).
I survived my first lesson by learning my alfabe (alphabet). “A, B, C’s” although I now know it is not “aye, bee, see” it is in fact “ah, be, je”.
Each morning at a little after 7, whether it is rain, or hail, or shine, I watch a little old lady passes by my front door. I do not know her name, I do not know where she lives, all I know is that our front door forms part of her morning constitutional.
When I see her I always smile and call out, “Gunaydin”. She has never acknowledged me. She has never wished me a good morning or even glanced in my direction, she merely makes her way past my front door as part of her usual morning routine. She walks slowly but with purpose. Some mornings I see she is walking with difficulty but today I noticed she has a new appendage to help her on her constitution – a cane. She seemed a little more sure of her step this morning but she still did not wish me a good morning when I waved at her from my terrace.
It is difficult to win over the old ladies in the village. After their initial curiosity of the yabanci amongst them I have generally been ignored. A few teyzer will say good morning and one or two of them will even ask me to join them for çay but on a whole I am left alone these days. That suits me fine. I am happy in my solitude and it gives me more time to write.
I do wonder, however, what I have to do to win this little lady over. A smile, that is all I am asking for. Maybe tomorrow.
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Did you know that humor is a great stress reliever and research has shown that being funny is actually a sign of intelligence. I’m pretty sure I’m a fecking genius.
I also think I’m a pretty nice person. I like to think that the whinging that I do on my little blog is taken with a grain of salt. I like to think that you, my loyal readers, are mature enough to discern between my take on living in this crazy little world and understand humor for what it is. Well maybe not!
Last night I received this email and when you read it try reading it with the voice of Yoda in your head (my request will make sense in a moment) –
I think you are the bitch. if you are unhappy so living in Turkey why do you not just leave. I am sure that it don’t want you here. Go back to home in England. England deserve you. You are the bitch. Divorce you I am.”
To this person who provided an email address that bounced back (let’s call him “Yoda”), to Yoda I reply –
I have never denied being a bitch (although I wonder are you trying to say “You are the bomb”? If you are trying to say “you are the bomb” then thank you and big kisses to you). I appreciate your sentiment but just in case you are in fact calling me a bitch I will say that you are in fact 100% correct. I am a bitch and I have been called a bitch many times over the years. I do appreciate your ability to immediately recognise a bitch. Kudos.
I also appreciate that you obviously spent the time to use Google Translate to write your kind comment to me. I should use Google Translate to reply to you as well however then my readers won’t get to enjoy my sarcasm and wit which is so obviously lost on you.
It is truly endearing to find a reader who has spent as much time as you obviously have Yoda reading my blog as you obviously know many intimate details about my life. Firstly I must tell you obviously I use the word “obviously” way too much. Obviously! Secondly, I must say that I do love England and I bet England would love me too. It has so much to offer. Harry Potter, William and Kate live there, even the Beatles originated from there! But one thing that did not originate from England was, in fact, me! I am not English. Perhaps we can play a game of Guess my Nationality?
Should I make it a visual game? Alrighty then. Below are 3 pictures. See if you can guess where I am from?
Did you guess it Yoda? I bet you did because you are obviously smarter than the average Jedi Knight. I mean look at Luke Skywalker. He was a bit dumb, he didn’t even realise that Leia was his sister! Ewwww. But just in case you did fail your Jedi Knight training the answer is – “I come from the land Down Under, where women glow and men plunder” also known as “Stralya”.
Finally (and just in case this message was from The Turk) – no you cannot divorce me. You love me WAY too much!
Again thank you for reading my little blog. Click like below if you enjoyed this reply or even like me on Facebook so you get all my updates.
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In Turkey, as in many parts of the world, it has been summer holidays. In my mind it shouldn’t be. Summer is December. Summer is Christmas Day. Summer is my birthday. But as my world is topsy turvy now I have had to contend with the heat in August (it was hot) and freeze on my birthday (which I did).
Now I find myself living in a country where for 13 weeks (yes I will say that again – 13 weeks) I am responsible for my offspring 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! I have never had to do this before. I always worked during school holidays but now there is me and there is Daughter all the time!
Here in the village it seems I am not only lumbered with Daughter (who contractually I am obliged to love unconditionally) but I am also lumbered with a plethora of etcetera’s. We are talking cousins, distant cousins, friends, friends of friends and probably an occasional stranger. Our house is the bomb because:
(a) we have internet;
(b) we have air con; and
(c) we have a parent or adult guardian that cannot speak a word of Turkish and frankly doesn’t care what the hell these kids do.
But today has arrived. I knew it was coming. The last few days have been a flurry of activity in preparation. Haircut? Check. New shoes? “What do you mean Doc Martens?” Sigh. Check. Nose ring? What??? Umm, maybe not this year (and thankfully the school tut-tutted on that suggestion).
I attempted to get Daughter into bed early last night. It was difficult but I achieved a partial victory by getting her into her bedroom by 10 pm. Of course when I went to bed at midnight I found her texting friends in Australia (after all it is breakfast over there). Go the feck to sleep!
At 6 am this morning Daughter’s alarm went off. “Good morning, bah, bah, bah bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, good morning.” A happy wake up alarm. I thought it may calm the wild beast with its cheerfulness. There was some grumbling and I heard “Shut it up!” from my room but honestly not as much as I had anticipated. During the school holidays I was lucky if Daughter was out of bed by 11 but now the alarm sounding the option to lie in is imponderable.
There was a little moaning and a little bitching but I managed to get her out of the house with 5 minutes to spare. I called out “I love you” as she walked away. Without a backward glance she lifted her hand, “Love you too.” *Sigh*
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The Turk has been gone nearly one week. What have I realised in The Turk’s absence?
The Turk does the cleaning. I hate cleaning.
The Turk does the vacuuming. I hate vacuuming.
The Turk really is a sensational chef. To anyone who knows The Turk personally knows just how good a chef he is. His pizza is legend – wait for it – ary. Legendary! I attempted pizza for Daughter and I last night. It was not legendary. It was – adequate. Daughter called it adequate. *Sigh*
The Turk also goes to the butcher. I loathe going to the butcher. I loathe the smell of the butcher and I loathe looking at the meat hanging on hooks.
I know that we have already established that I am a failure in the Turkish Housewife stakes but I am starting to realise that perhaps The Turk does more around here than I have given him credit for.
And this brings me to my next peeve.
A mountain of garbage that is accumulating outside my home. I live between what is currently a building site to my right and a 3 level building consisting of 4 apartments on my left. Each apartment has a family member living in it. The building site does my head in, always has, always will. Minus the fact that Vito has built their shop and home abutting our building their builders would have to be the laziest and dirtiest builders I have ever had the non-pleasure of coming across. Crap everywhere and while I am on that subject “Where do they crap?” There is no toilet facility built yet and I am curious as to where they go when nature calls. You know when we were building out balcony my mother in law caught our builder doing a shit in our basement! Yes seriously! She went ballistic. Best thing I ever saw. She picked up the bok (shit) in her hand and chased him with it before throwing it in his face. We never saw that particular builder again. There’s your Turkish word of the day – bok!
Back to my peeve.
To our left we have the three level building with 4 apartments. While The Turk was here I would often see him carrying bucket after bucket of garbage to the large dumpster down the street. With him now gone the buckets are overflowing, the stray cats are ecstatic and the smell is all consuming.
This morning I witnessed a family member who shall remain nameless throw a bag of garbage out the window narrowly missing My Hurley Dog and I as we were in the garden. WTF? Not only are they too lazy to take the garbage to the bin now it seems they are even too lazy to walk it down the stairs?
My frustration levels are at boiling point. These people are happy to live in filth but I am not. They drop garbage where they stand. The neighbour’s dog poops everywhere and no one cleans it up. It’s a Rottweiler folks. That bok is bigger than my foot! Recycling is non-existent. This really is getting out of hand.
As I sit here on my balcony enjoying the warm autumn breeze (thankfully not coming in from the east) I honestly wonder whether this mountain of crap is one lightning bolt away from becoming its own entity, with thoughts and feelings. And if this mountain of crap is only one lightning bolt away from becoming its own entity do I have to feed that too?