Having a Benjamin Button Moment

“It’s a funny thing about comin’ home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You’ll realize what’s changed is you.”

Benjamin Button aka Brad Pitt aka My Second Husband

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Sidenote – I know I am referring to movies a lot at the moment.  Not sure why, have not even had time to watch television.  Bear with me.

The Turk seems to be having a Benjamin Button moment right now.  He has banged on about returning to The Village pretty much since arriving in Sydney 11 years ago but I think being home and knowing that this IS now his home is a hurdle that he is having difficulty traversing.

In the past he has visited.  His family have welcomed him with open arms.  His friends have slapped him on the back and drank cay with him at the local tea house or take him to the new club in the city and there are tears and hugs at the airport before he leaves them (yet again) to return to his life in Australia.  There was always the knowledge that he would return again in the future.

As happy as he is to be back with his family and friends he now has an opportunity to take off the rose coloured glasses and really look at where he now calls home and he has been very opinionated about its misgivings.  He can complain about the blackouts that seem to happen daily.  Thank you Benjamin Franklin.  He has complained about the water not being hot enough or the water pressure not being strong enough.  But today was my favourite.  He has had a hankering for Peking Duck.  Yep that’s right.  Peking Duck.

Now I do not want to sound like an unsupportive wife (really?) but come on sunshine – get over it!  He was born in this village (probably next door), he grew up here, went to school, made friends, loved and lost and, well, then he left, didn’t he?  He was conscripted into the army and after his service he went to Bodrum where he played around until he met me.  Holy shit!  He had no idea what he was getting himself into!  Other than fleeting visits he has not lived in this village since he was 18!  I know I am using a lot of exclamation points but this is an exclamation point kind of epiphany!!

Now I cannot help him with the Peking Duck (ewww) but I have an electrician coming today about our constant blackouts.  We have had an electric hot water service connected (how people live on solar hot water in winter is beyond me). The telephone is now operational (finally).  We’ve had satellite TV installed (because the 2000 Turkish channels that we had were apparently not the right ones).  The balcony is still under renovation (but will be finished shortly) and . . . well I am sure there are other problems that will come up but we can tackle each problem when it presents itself.

What an wonderful, sympathetic, kind, generous and hot wife I am (just go with me on this) and apparently when I sing I sound like Madonna.  I know my Second Husband aka Brad Pitt would show his appreciation.

Meet the In-Laws

I am sitting on my balcony listening to the sounds of The Village.  Below me the most prominent sound is that of my in law’s shouting at the top of their lungs.  I wander downstairs to see what today’s issue could be only to find them sitting happily in the sunshine warming their old bones.

My mother in law, Refika calls me over, “Gel. Otur”.  Come and sit.  I sit by them and pour a glass of cay (which, to their constant horror, I put milk in).  It is quite nice in the sun but you can feel that winter is not far away and it was bloody cold this morning when I took Hurley for a walk.  I wonder if Refika invited me over to put an end to their squabble.  No, it was definitely continuing with me right beside them.  I watched them argue back and forth and although I am no expert in the Turkish language I quickly realise that the argument was about who ate the last yumurta (egg).

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The Turk’s parents have been married for over 50 years.  Happily?  I just couldn’t say, they appear resigned to the fact that they are married to each other (I feel that way about The Turk most days as well).  I look at my mother in law’s face.  Deep wrinkles may line her face and cloudy eyes are tired but she still smiles despite her illnesses.  Her scarred and callused hands tell me that she has worked very hard over her years and for probably little reward.  Hursit on the other hand is looking jolly and starts talking animatedly (and loudly due to his deafness) to me despite the fact that I can understand little of what he is saying.  Now retired his day is a repeat of the day before – a trip to the Jokey Club to place a bet on a horse, followed by long (an no doubt philosophical) debates with his friends and neighbours at the local tea house before returning home to his dinner which has been prepared by Refika before removing himself to watch either a horse race or the news on television.  If his horse has won he will sing the night away İyi akşamlar which is no doubt his favourite song.  Give him a few wine or rakı and you will hear that freaking song until dawn!

Watching Refika and Hurşit happily argue has made me realise that The Turk and I are exactly the same!  Every conversation that we have is basically an argument (which is what happens when you mix a Turkish man with an Australian/Italian woman) and I am the first to say that I would divorce him in a heartbeat to anyone who will listen!  Does this mean that The Turk married his mother?

Oh dear!!

The Prodigal Son

The Turk arrived home on Sunday to much fanfare and joy (well not by me but by his family).  The women folk were up at the crack of dawn to prepare for the celebration by making all of The Turk’s favourite foods including Icel Kofte, Lamachun (Turkish pizza) and lots of salads.  I kept out of it for two reasons – one, I am a terrible chef and two, I had 8 weeks’ worth of cleaning to get done in a day!  Anyone who knows me knows that I do not clean.  I watch, I hire or I think about it but the act of cleaning never actually eventuates and in the end someone else does it for me however here I have put in a pretty good effort.  I would not eat off the floor but you would not get a foot fungus in my shower that’s for sure.  Unfortunately The Turk likes his home clean so I had the day to knuckle down and get our house ship shape and ready for his arrival.

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An hour into the clean The Turk telephoned from Istanbul, “Good news, I’m hopping on a flight now.  Pick me up in an hour”.  WTF???? It was supposed to be 7.00 tonight!!  I gave up vacuuming as I would never get it finished in time and ran downstairs to let the rest of the family know.  I had to laugh when I told The Turk’s mother as the frenzied rushing became a little crazed to finish the preparations for his arrival.  I left with Hurley in tow to drive to Adana (about an hour from home) to collect The Turk stopping enroute at Metro (Costco equivalent) to buy some alcohol for the celebration.

Changing the subject for a moment the wine in Turkey is certainly not to an Aussie standard which is a shame but there are a few nice drops (although they are quite expensive due to taxes put on them by the Government).  I am yet to find an equivalent to a nice Cabernet Sauvignon but The Turk is relatively happy with the 14TL (AU$7.00) red (which is even cheaper if brought in bulk at Metro).  If any readers can give me the name of a nice Cab Sav I would forever be in your debt!

After our alcohol run we did not even have to park at the airport as waiting at the arrivals door was The Turk – definitely early and he is usually never early for anything!  He looked tired, haggard in fact!  His flight was Sydney – Singapore – London – Istanbul – Adana.  35 hours in total!  Yes there was a more direct route but he wanted the cheapest possible flight and, well, you get what you pay for after all.

So after 36 hours The Turk finally arrived home to a night of celebration.  The food here may not be presented beautifully, in fact it is on an old table with mismatched chairs and newspaper for a table cloth, but I swear I have never tasted a better kofte anywhere nor has anyone been able to beat The Turk’s mother’s lamachun.  Of course the salads are great as they are made with ingredients grown right here (and without all the chemicals).  So much work goes into making this meal but it is done with laughter and and love.  I truly believe that you can taste it in the food.

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Incidentally The Turk did question whether I knew how to use the vacuum cleaner.  I told him to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.  He just laughed.

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Welcome home.