Birthday

The most important event that took place in Turkey this past weekend was Daughter’s birthday party.  Her birthday is not actually until next week but as we will be in Sydney it was imperative that we threw her “the party of the season” before we left.

Alright I can do this, after all I have thrown 11 other birthdays for her so one in the Village can’t be that different.  I did, however, give myself a sneaky lesson in Turkish birthday etiquette while recently attending her cousins 10th birthday.  It is clear that birthdays are not huge events here even though Daughter considers it should be “the party of the season”.  Here in the village a birthday is celebrated with family, a cake and maybe a few balloons.  Easy.

Sunday morning I was up early cleaning the house.  Daughter had had a sleepover the night before and they attempted an all-nighter so she was as grumpy as a toothless troll in the morning.  I threw her in the shower to wake her up and sent the girls downstairs for breakfast (there were kids everywhere on Sunday morning so I took advantage of my sister in law who had arrived from Adana the day before to feed the masses).

The Turk and I left to get the cake and a few last minute items and when we returned less than 15 minutes before the party was due to begin we arrived to find Daughter had turned our living room into a balloon pool.  She had blown up every single balloon in my “Mega-bag” of balloons that I recently purchased at Metro for the bargain basement  price of 10TL.  That means close to 200 balloons were blown up.  It was crazy.  There was also music blasting, the Wii was set up and the piñata that I had put away (as I considered that it fell under the heading of “ostentatious”) was now hanging in the garden downstairs.

Cousins arrived.  Friends arrived.  More friends arrived.  Chaos ensued.  Music blasted (I think I heard Adriana Grande’s hit “Problem” about 20 times).  Cake was eaten.  Pinata was destroyed.  Balloons were popped (and one eaten by My Hurley Dog).

Here are a few snaps from the party.  If you are wondering the significance of the “A” it is a reference to Daughter’s favourite television show, “Pretty Little Liars”.  Only 3 days until the Season premiere people – I know this as Daughter has been counting it down for weeks now.  Will we find out who “A” is?  Only time will tell.

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Was this considered the “party of the season”?  Yes, yes it was.  I have also fallen into the category of “Coolest Mum Ever” with Daughter’s friends which sits well with me because it is true!

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Introducing The Turk

He is part adult, part baby.  He is emotional, overly emotional, passionately emotional.  He can be selfish.  He is stubborn.  He smokes.  He drinks too much.  He is a terrible driver.  He is argumentative.  He is dedicated to his family – too much so.  His crazy antics are the reason why the grey hairs on my now blonde head appear more often than they ought.  Only him.

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On a good day he is an acceptable human being.  He likes to clean.  He likes to cook.  He likes me.  On a good day.

On a bad day it is clear that I have upset the Gods and they have sent this demon monster to me as punishment for my wrongdoing.  My mother in law had a ‘whacking stick’ that she used on the stray cats if they made their way a little too close to the front door of her house.  I had also seen her use her ‘whacking stick’ on both The Turk and his brothers more than one.  I have decided I need a ‘whacking stick’.  I will keep it next to the front door where I keep the slippers for visitors.  If The Turk gets a little out of control I can grab my ‘whacking stick’ and wield it around like a big ass shiny sword.

In case you are wondering my Dad actually did like The Turk.  Not at first.  Not when you get his only daughter “knocked up” but he came around eventually.  He didn’t love him but he liked him all the same.  He said we were “well matched” and “both as ridiculous as each other”.  There you have it.

Daughter has another ear infection.  Her own fault.  She runs around in mid riff tops and cut off shorts most of the time and she will not take the medicine prescribed by the Doctor.  Last night she was very, very sick.  Ear aches.  Stomach aches.  You name it, she was suffering from it.  The Turk aka the most childish, spoilt, overly emotional pain in my ass that every existed spent the night sitting next to Daughter’s bed.  If the blankets were pushed off he put them back on.  Is it too hot?  He adjusted the air con (incidentally it is too bloody hot).  When she woke uneasily after a disjointed dream he shushed her back to sleep.  He offered to sing to her at one point but I heard her shout “NO”, we only need one rock star in the family after all.

I still need a whacking stick but perhaps I will not need to use one today.  Not today.

Moving to Mersin?

I get an incredible amount of emails from people thinking of moving to Mersin or Icel.  Apart from shaking my head in bewilderment at the idea (just joking.  I love it here … sometimes) living in Mersin or even living in Turkey offers you a good quality of life in a cultural hybrid of East and West.  It has its history, dramatic geography and frankly in Mersin it has pretty good weather virtually all year round.

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I usually write lengthy replies about the do’s and do not’s that I have experienced firsthand living in Mersin.  I think I’ve got my reply down to a fine art, with some slight modification as the need arises.  So what are my “do’s and do nots” for moving to Mersin?

DO think about your decision.

Why are you coming to Mersin?  Is it for adventure?  Is it for love?  Is it for money?  Moving to the other side of the world or even the other side of the State is a huge decision.  So many factors.  Short term or forever?  Rent/sell your home.  Give up your lease.  Pack your whole life into boxes.  Storage or cargo?  Pets?  Bring them or adopt them out?  (I obviously brought my two fur-babies with me and frankly could not of even imagined this move without them).  Kids?  Bring them or adopt them out?  I am just joking.  Seriously I am.  Remember though there are no hurdles too high.

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DO your research.

What area do you want to live?  Mezitli?  Pozcu?  Carsi?  Mersin is a large city and Icel is even larger (which includes Erdemli, Silifki, Anamur through to Tarsus).  There is a lot of choice.  Kiralama daire (renting an apartment) in the city of Mersin is quite cheap compared to many cities throughout Türkiye.  Do inspect before you sign anything as the quality may not be as high as you would be used to and check what outgoings are included.  Also remember that it is normal for you to purchase your own appliances (yes including your stove) and even light fittings.

What school okul do you want your children to go to?  There are some great özel okul (private schools) in Icel but they are hugely expensive so factor that cost in and mostly they will teach in Türk.  Originally we chose to put Daughter in a village school to give her an opportunity to learn the language by immersing herself in it.  The teachers at the village school were incredibly helpful.  I could not fault them at all and the children were incredibly generous and welcoming.  Daughter even had a nemesis which is, in her opinion, the ultimate show of acceptance.  After two years of learning Türk we moved her to an özel okul which gave us an entirely new set of challenges to overcome.

Where will you be working?  Are you allowed to work?  This is, of course, visa dependent.  Do not attempt to work without a visa.  It will bite you in the ass.  There is a desperate need for English speaking teachers in Mersin along with German and French.  English teachers seem to earn a good living so it can be quite lucrative if you have the right credentials.

DO get the right visa.

You will no doubt be scratching your head with the paperwork, fees, requirements and general stroke inducing migraines that a brought on while traversing the myriad of obtaining the correct visa.  There are different types of visas, short term (tourism), student visa and employment visa.  An employment visa will only be issued if you have a signed job contract and a work permit issued by Çalışma ve Sosyal Güvenlik Bakanlığı (Ministry of Labour and Social Security).  This application must be done in your country of residence.

You will also need a residence permit which must be applied for within 30 days of arrival.  This is issued from the Emniyet Müdürlüğü Yabancılar Şubesi Foreigner’s Division/Alien’s Branch of the Local Police Department and as I mentioned in a previous post entering this place is like entering Mordor.

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There is a lot of supporting documentation required as well so be prepared.  For example – proof of your financial situation, copies of rental agreements or ownership of your own property and (in my case) proof of marriage.  Do yourselves a favour and photocopy all your documents at least 10 times, more if you can.  Also ensure that all documents are translated into Turkish.  Do not believe the person on the street (or on this blog or that blog), you need everything translated into Turkish.  Birth Certificate – translate it.  Marriage Certificate – translate it.  If your child is to go to school you need a document from the school confirming enrolment stamped by the Turkish Consulate in your home country and then translated into Turkish.  Incidentally it was cheaper for us to translate here in Mersin at a Noter rather than back in Sydney.  Finally passport photos.  You have some?  Get more!

DO make friends – with both expats and locals.

I know, I know I do not always take my own advice but I did talk to an amazing amount of people before I moved here on various expat sites.  These guys are already living in Mersin or in Turkey and they will prepare you for the bumps in the road (there will be bumps, sinkholes and even a few bottomless pits before you begin to feel at home here).  Living here is a great experience but it’s not always easy being an immigrant.

DO learn the language.

I wish I had.  I blame The Turk.  Of course now I find myself without the benefit of language.  Paying a bill.  Difficult!  Shopping?  Difficult!  Doctor?  Dentist?  Government office?  Difficult!  Difficult! Difficult!!!  Do a course.  Try Babbel.  Do something so you are not drowning in the deep end.  Mersin is not particularly expat friendly so any attempt to speak the native language will put you in good stead with your landlord or employer or even that bored Government employee.

DO it.  Just do it!

As for the Do not’s I only have one –

DO NOT live with regret.

Oh wait one other piece of advice that will change your life – bring mosquito repellent!  It does not matter how much you have or what brand you have, bring more!  The mosquito’s here are the most desperate bloody suckers you will ever come across.  They may not sparkle in sunlight but they are lethal from dusk to dawn!

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Spring Action

I’ve been incredibly busy the last few days, starting with giving the house a good scrub from top to toe.  It is always so dusty here in the Village, primarily caused by the surrounding farmland but couple this with the building work next door and we are constantly covered in a thin (or thick) layer of dust.  The Turk pulled the refrigerator out and behind it was a family of dust bunnies.  They were quite happy living behind the refrigerator but sadly they had to go as they were multiplying rapidly.  I am pretty sure I never ever cleaned behind my refrigerator in North Sydney but that was more likely because I am incredibly lazy and just assumed my cleaner (or perhaps The Turk) did it for me.  I cannot believe how much dust, fluff and general grubbery builds up here.  I am forever mopping the floor and forever exfoliating the grub from my skin. The house is looking schmick at the moment though, all shiny and dust free (for today anyway).

School finishes here in 3 weeks and Daughter and I am leaving for Sydney the next morning.  I love a countdown but this one is particularly exciting for me as I am going home to see my friends and family.  I am also incredibly excited about eating food.  Australian food.  Pub lunches.  Indian banquets.  Italian.  Thai.  Mexican.  Oh.  My.  God.  You name it, Imma gonna eat it!  Don’t get me wrong I love Turkish food too but here it is just food.  Every day.  God give me some pepper sauce.  I am drooling in anticipation of a good curry.  And then there is bacon.  I miss bacon.  I know, I know we’ve been over this already but I do.  I really, really do miss bacon.  A lot.

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I’ve also been helping The Turk in the garden.  Our spring garden is blooming.  Again no pesticides, we are being as organic as we can be.  Unfortunately we had a late rain last week and we lost some of our vegetables but our green beans are coming in nicely as are our summer lettuce and our corn.  The first strawberries have appeared and our tomatoes are flowering.  The Turk has had to ‘sex them up’ which for those of you who don’t know The Turk or I this is my explanation for him out in the garden violating the flowers with his finger to release their pollen.  He is adamant that this will ensure the flower will become a tomato.  Yes he has been doing this for years with both his tomatoes and his chilli plants.  He swears that it works every single time.  It does.

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Turkey has been in the press this past week.  The devastating loss of life in Soma and the subsequent protests and riots by the public is awful to witness.  The sadness I feel for the loss of life is overwhelmed by my anger eyeballing the behaviour of the politicians and their reactions.  I am sure that wherever it is that you are currently in the world whether it is Turkey or elsewhere you would no doubt have seen the footage of Yusef Yerkel kicking a grieving member of public last week in Soma.  Did you hear that he is now on sick leave as he injured his leg?  That poor man.  Injured while on the job.  Oh how I feel for him.  How lucky that he gets to sit at home and recuperate.  OMFG!  I am sorry but he should have been arrested for assault and fired immediately.  Did you also know that only a week before the Soma accident the political party CHP requested that the mine be investigated for work-related injuries and its safety record but the current ruling party AKP vetoed the request?  Yikes!  My heart goes out to the families of those who lost someone at Soma and my sincerest hope is that their deaths bring about reform within the Turkish mining industry which has an extremely poor record.

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I know I hopped onto my soap box again.  I know I promised I wouldn’t do it but sometimes its a little difficult for me to shut my mouth when an injustice is done.

Enough from me for now.  The Turk has just brought us freshly cooked corn straight from our garden.  A little butter, a little salt and pepper and this snack is fit for a queen – and her princess.

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The Entity

We were not in Turkey when construction began on our home here in the Village.  We did not oversee the work and most (read that as all) building design choices were made by The Turk’s older brother (which includes the purples tiles in the en-suite bathroom).  Building your own home is incredibly stressful but building your own home in Turkey comes with its own unique set of issues.  There is no Government body that oversees the standard of workmanship and no one to complain to if there is a problem.  So here we are, nine months in our new home, with a problem.  An entity.

Not a ghostly apparition or a poltergeist, frankly I would welcome them without issue, no our entity is the unmistakable smell of sewage coming from the basement.  Blah!

Originally the basement was built as a garage “big enough for 5 cars”.  Well that’s great isn’t it?  If only we had 5 cars, or even 1 car for that matter.  Nevertheless when we arrived in the Village the first thing I pointed out to my brother in law was that the driveway leading to the garage was too steep and, in my opinion, no car could (or should) drive down it.  The Turk’s brother (who does not like being told he is wrong) was adamant that you could drive down it with ease and insisted on making the attempt with his shiny, black BMW.  It was not successful but it was damn funny to witness.

Now the driveway has been filled in (more money thrown down the Money Pit) and the garage has become an incredibly large basement or utility room.  It is still useful and we are storing our carpets there until the colder weather returns.  Daughter and her cousins play down there on occasion and she recently suggested we get a television or pool table down there so she can turn it into a hangout for her and her friends.

Yesterday it rained.  The first rain in a couple of weeks (maybe even longer) but that would not stop me from going for my walk with My Hurley Dog this morning.  I put on his rain coat and my joggers ready for an invigorating walk/run through the rain.  I opened the front door that leads to the stairwell and – BANG – the entity attacked me with its putrid odour enveloping me in its stench.   It felt like I had been smacked hard in the face with kaka!  This entity that has escaped from our basement is a life form so malodorous, so fetid that it actually made me vomit into my mouth.  I slammed the front door and yelled for The Turk to bring some holy water and a cross – an exorcism was the only thing that was going to get rid of this thing.

Disappointed that I didn’t have Proton Pack handy to capture our entity I donned a peg to control my gag reflex and followed The Turk, aka Dr Peter Venkman, into the rank darkness of the basement.  I was on edge, ready to be covered in kaka like an exploding Stay Puft Marshmallow Man only to find – nothing – no leaks, to mountain of shit pouring from pipe, nothing.

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After a thorough examination of the pipes (none are broken) it seems that the likely cause of our entity is lack of ventilation caused by Vito building his home abutting ours and in the process covering up two of our air vents.  Bloody Vito!

Now we will need to hire yet another builder to come and install new air vents and hopefully exorcise our entity.

And if you are wondering the entity did attach to both The Turk and I and we needed to scour our bodies and burn our clothes to remove its stench.

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Weather Update

As you all know I have been keeping you abreast of the lack of rain in Mersin.  I think at last check it was 4 rainy days in 138 days.  That’s a lot of sunny days!  Anyhow, Daughter and I went to Istanbul last weekend for a little holiday and, on the way to Adana, our rain free run came to an end.  Yes it rained.  Daughter was excited.  Me?  I was more concerned about the weather in Istanbul.  I googled it that morning and saw a high of 3 degrees Celsius.  That falls under a huge “Yikes” for me.

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In the six days that Daughter and I were in Istanbul it rained in Mersin – a lot.  There was some localised flooding (not in the Village thankfully) heavy rain and strong winds.  Since our return yesterday it has been sunny and rather pleasant, in fact I managed to get a little pink while sitting on my newly completely (finally) balcony this morning.

And Istanbul?  Yes it was cold.  Really cold in fact.  But despite the zero degrees and the occasional snowflakes that turned the city a dreary grey we had a great week away from Mersin.  Daughter did a lot of shopping (she “discovered” Topshop while wandering down Istiklal Caddesi) and we visited our usual haunts including the Basilica Cistern, Sultan Ahmet Camii and Hagia Sophia.

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Will blog more about Istanbul soon but right now I have a lot of laundry to get on the line.  Just before I sign off I just want to add one more thing.  Away for a week and The Turk is unable to do the washing despite the fact that I have showed him a dozen times how to use the washing machine AND the fact that the instruction manual is in Turkish AND who uses a clean towel every – single – day?  Clean undies – yes – but clean towels???

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The First Date (that wasn’t a date)

When we started packing up all of our belongings for our move to Turkey it became quite clear that The Turk is a bit of a hoarder.  The most unnecessary crap was placed in boxes and sent by cargo to Turkey with the idea that it would be useful to us when we arrived.

Fast forward six months and The Turk who is hasta (sick) at the moment has become a general pain in my arse because he is sitting at home and “helping”.  On a good day The Turk cannot sit still.  He always needs to be active and doing things.  This is not a bad thing and over the years I have trained him to “do” the washing or “do” the cleaning but when he is hasta he can be a right royal pain in my arse.  This morning he decided that he was tired of the boxes (that are hidden from the naked eye under the bed) and they had to be cleared away immediately.  Now!  Right now!

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One of the boxes contained a heap of old photos.  Most of these were of my travels but one photo that he pulled out was in a dented old frame.  The glass was missing and the photo itself was damaged and, for some inexplicable reason, has been cut up and pasted back together.  So why is this photo important?  It is, in fact, the very first photo of The Turk (introduced to me as Al Pacino – his moniker) and I together along with his friends “Antonio Banderas” and “Maradona” as well as my girlfriend Ris.

This photo was taken back in September 2000 at Artemis Hotel in Bodrum.  It our first night out – not a date (well I knew it was not a date but perhaps he did not).  It was not a successful night.  In fact it was ghastly with The Turk becoming jealous of another man’s attentions towards me and Ris and I deciding that we were going to escape then and there.  I remember us running through the streets back to our hotel fearful that this strange Turk was going to follow us.  We never went back to visit The Turk after that less than stellar evening and left Turkey happy with the knowledge that I would never have to see “Al Pacino” again.

I returned to Australia and Ris returned to London but whenever we spoke we would laugh about that night.  Nine months later I returned to Bodrum with a group of friends to spend a month with Ris.  On our first night we hit the bars on the Bodrum beachfront ready for a huge night however jet lag got the better of me and, after a few cocktails, I decided to make my way back to the hotel to sleep it off.  I was tottering down the street when suddenly The Turk was standing in front of me.  Yikes!

“Hey I remember you,” I blabbed.  “It’s Al Pacino.”

“Yes I remember you too Janey.  You left me stranded on the street with a broken heart,” came his reply.  Whatever!

The rest, my friends, is history.

Picking up the photograph The Turk walked into the bedroom and placed it on his bedside table.  “I can now remember this night forever”.

Jeeze.

Rise and Shine

School in Turkey is completely different to school in Australia.  In Australia school starts at the most civilised hour of 9 am and finishes at the very acceptable hour of 3 pm.  This allows you (and your brood) a decent sleep and leaving enough time for afternoon activities.  Here in Turkey Daughter starts school at the most uncivilised hour of 7 am and finishes at the completely unacceptable 12 noon.  This means I am dealing with a complete grump in the morning and, as for me, I can never get everything done in the few hours allocated as child free time.

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There are advantages to a Turkish education in Daughter’s mind.  Yes she loves the fact that she is at school for one hour less here in Turkey.  She now has a butt load of free time in the afternoon to run amok with her friends.  Another bonus in Daughter’s mind is the fact that each lesson seems to run for approximately 20 minutes with a 10 minute break for toilet or canteen visits (although the toilets are squat toilets and never seem to have any toilet paper which is more horrific to an 11 year old than anything she has gone through so far).

Returning to my point – Daughter has to get up at 5.40 am.  This ridiculously early start is required to give her enough time to get ready, whinge, drink a coffee(!), whinge, eat breakfast and whinge some more before her servis comes to collect her at 6.35 am.   The reality is that she whinges – a lot – in the morning.

I have tried lots of different tactics to make the morning starts a little easier on everyone.

Get her to bed early.  This is usually difficult as Turkey seems to be a country of night time frivolities.  Lots of visitors, loads of food, occasional dancing and music and Daughter being Daughter will not miss out on a party, even if she is the only one at the party.

Blackmail (also called Negotiation)

You’ve all done it – don’t lie.

Responsibility

I gave the responsibility to Daughter.  Brought her an alarm clock.  Set it and did not get out of bed to help her get ready for school.  This option failed dismally as she missed her servis three days in a row and in fact missed school twice!

H-e-e-l-l-l-p-p-p-p!

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I put it to you – how do you get your child up for school when it is pitch black outside.  How do you motivate them enough to get ready for school when they hate you or hate life or hate the world.  And finally, how do you get your child to stop hating you or hating life or hating the world!

Being Scrooged

Today is Wednesday.  To many of you it is Christmas Day but here it is just Wednesday.  Daughter has been negotiating with The Turk all week to have the day off school and last night, finally, The Turk gave in.  No school on Christmas Day (sorry I mean Wednesday).

I woke up this morning (Wednesday) feeling grumpy.  This was my first Christmas away from Australia, away from my ancestral roots but, of course, I have had many Wednesday’s away from Australia so if I keep thinking about it that way it’s not so bad.  I intended today to be a day of wallowing in my grief, to lie on the couch and watch Christmas movies (having downloaded a plethora of choices for wallowing from Home Alone and Love Actually to It’s a Wonderful Life (“Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings”) however when I got up this morning the sky was the most glorious pembe (pink) and that glorious colour made it virtually impossible for me to wallow when the universe has been so good to me.

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Sure maybe there is no Christmas ham but today is Wednesday so perhaps I can make lamachun.

There are no Christmas carols but today is Wednesday and the ezan (Call to Prayer) will still summon the Muslim faithful 6 times a day.  A hauntingly beautiful sound that has become my alarm clock, so to speak.  I need to be up at 5:42 to get Daughter ready for school.  The 1:12 ezan reminds me to prepare lunch and the 5:07 means I can open a bottle of wine (although mildly inappropriate).  The 8:21 ezan is my Hurley Dog’s reminder for a quick walk before bed (yes he hears it and runs to the door).  The 10:08 tells me to get ready for bed and if I am awake at 3:38 it is like a lullaby to my ears I when hear the chant.

I may not be able to swim down at Manly Beach after a family Christmas banquet or go for a dip in the neighbour’s pool after a delicious BBQ but today is Wednesday so Daughter and I will go and spend some time with her Grandmother before taking my Hurley Dog for a walk through the village (maybe stopping by the butcher for a nice juicy Wednesday bone).  Today is a ‘balmy’ 17 degrees and although there has been a fresh fall of snow on the mountains behind us it is still rather pleasant for the middle of winter.

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So perhaps some might say I am being Scrooged by not having a Christmas celebration but do I miss the traffic on Christmas morning?  No.  Do I miss the potential for family drama?  Not at all.  Do I miss the commercialism of Christmas?  Bah humbug I say!  So what am I missing out on?  I’ve got The Turk and I’ve got Daughter.  I’ve got my Hurley Dog and my Kedi Cat and a bucket load of Turkish family.  Is not every day Christmas Day?

And yes as you can see Daughter did get to open a couple of little presents – even if my Hurley Dog tried to open them himself.

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So to my family and friends around the world have a wonderful day (Wednesday) and a Merry Christmas.  Enjoy the ham.

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The Little Things

Since moving to Turkey and more particularly moving to The Village I (along with Daughter) am learning to appreciate the simple way of life and to, perhaps, disparage what we had and how we lived in Australia.  I have learnt to not complain about things that are not perfect and instead focus on the good things that we do have (unless you refer to those neighbours in which case – watch out!).

Living in Australia Daughter was always on the lookout for something new.  Shopping was a weekly event and clothes, computer games or gadgets were expected.  I was exactly the same.  Like mother, like daughter.  I used to sneak my purchases into the house so The Turk would not have a conniption, funny thing though – he would always find it no matter how well I hid things.  Bags hidden under the bed – he would find it.  Bags hidden in the garage – he would find them.  Hell he was like one of those dogs at the airport sniffing out contraband!  I could never hide anything from him and despite his terrible ability to read English he could read the credit card statement!

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Here in Karaduvar it is a little different.  Firstly we do not have two disposable incomes.  We must live on a budget and admittedly we are not doing a very good job of that.  We now need to be a little more stringent with our spending habits and that . . . well that definitely takes some getting used to!

The other reason Karaduvar is different is that our friends and neighbours do not have disposable incomes.  They work extremely hard and long hours to put food on their table and to ensure that their family and those around them are warm and happy.  I watch women arrive at the bache (farm) across the street before the sun has risen and they will work all day for approximately 30TL (AUD$15.00).   These women then return to their own homes and cook dinner for their family and, after the family have had their fill they will clean their homes until they shine.  If their neighbour needs anything they will give them theirs no questions asked even if this means they will go without. There is no jealousy, there is just caring and friendship.  Is this not what life should be about?

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I have begun to realise that I do not need all the material things that seemed necessary at home.  I look out my window where Daughter is playing with her cousins on the street with Hurley running after them.  I recall how her entire class came to check on her recently when she had a day off from school.  This would have never happened back in Sydney.

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I think our little family will be happier here with a simpler lifestyle.  Look at me – I am growing!    Who would have thunk it!