Dognapped!

The neighbour’s Rottweiler is chained up all day.  His owner (Vito) never let’s this beautiful and gentle boy off its chain and he spends its day sitting staring morosely at the passer by.  I know its normal in Turkey but it’s still heartbreaking all the same.  The Turk pities Hercules and takes him for a long walk every morning and afternoon as well as ensuring that he gets a decent feed every day.  The dog does have his quirks though.  He will not go on a lead and I don’t really blame him because he is chained up all day so he will carry his lead in his mouth and walk alongside The Turk (which is ridiculously cute).  Of course this causes drama in the village as they all assume Hercules is some crazed man eater and will rip them apart as he wanders by.  He won’t ’cause he’s a big baby (I mean look at him with Stanley) BUT if he sees a soccer ball (or a dirty nappy) he will lose his fecking mind.  The Turk has been forced to carry 10TL every time he takes Hercules anywhere to hand over to crying children when Hercules steals yet another ball.

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Anyway The Turk took Hercules for a walk this morning and everything was going along swimmingly until the dopey dog spotted a stray off in the distance.  As Hercules is a dopey dog he took off leaving The Turk to chase after him like a Looney Tunes cartoon.  After 20 minutes of searching The Turk gave up and started home.  As he reached our local market he spotted Hercules sitting happily outside lapping water from the bowl that is left by the shopowner.  The Turk stormed over and started yelling at Hercules who seemed pretty perturbed by all the yelling.  The Turk pointed Hercules home and he meekly followed The Turk at a safe distance.

An hour or so later there was an almighty kerfuffle outside!  Now it is not unusual for yelling in these parts or for the polis to arrive to be honest so when I hear some crazy Turk yelling for some reason or another I usually ignore it however as it was ruining my morning serenity I hung over the terrace to watch the show.

Outside Vito’s door was an itsy, bitsy Turkish man seriously foaming at the mouth with aggression, two bored polis smoking cigarettes and chatting on their phones, one dishevelled Vito (who had clearly just been woken by said itsy, bitsy Turkish man and two bored polis), Hercules sunning himself on the concrete … and Hercules miserably sulking on his chain in the corner.  Wait!  What?

Yep we seemed to have acquired a spare Rottweiler leaving Vito scratching his head, The Turk realising his error and the itsy, bitsy Turkish man now believing that his dog was being despoiled by Hercules (who I admit did seem up for the task).  It was a clear case of dognapping and it certainly didn’t take the two Pet Detectives long to crack this case wide open.  The Turk was extremely apologetic and laughed it off with the polis however the itsy, bitsy Turkish man continued to foam at the mouth (no doubt in need of a quick trip to the hastanesi) and insisted that Vito or The Turk or both of them be thrown in gaol.  Vito continued to be confused as he wiped the sleep from his eyes and Hercules continued to lie in the sunshine lapping up all the attention.  In the end common sense prevailed and the original Hercules was reinstated to his chain, the reasonable facsimile along with the tiny little Turkish man left carrying a big bag of maydanoz and the polis sat in the sunshine enjoying another cigarette and some fresh Türk kahvesi.

On closer inspection it should have been clear that it wasn’t Hercules … the reasonable facsimile had a tail (Hercules does not), the reasonable facsimile had a different collar but the clearest indication that it was not Hercules was … she was female!

Duh!

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After The Fall

It wasn’t really a fall, it was more of a complete transformation of a mild mannered *cough, cough* Aussie chick into a fully functioning, homicidal maniac but I must say I felt better getting it off my chest and I want to give all you guys a shout out as well.  So many of you wrote to me and told me your horror stories living here in Türkiye (and elsewhere) making mine seem perhaps a tad absurd but also giving me the strength to face a new day.

depression 1

I haven’t always been honest about how I was feeling mostly because I didn’t want to sound like I was complaining.  For many of us there is a romanticism to living in Türkiye.  I get that.  So many people say how lucky we are and how they would love to do it too.  Sure, we are very lucky – we chose this life but it isn’t always easy.

When I self-analyse my meltdown (thank you Google) I think it mostly stems from a depression that snuck up on me, so quietly that I didn’t even realise it until it swallowed me whole.  I had an inkling back in January that there was something askew while I was having a long weekend in London.  I caught up with my bestie who lives there and spent much of the day in tears.

Up front I don’t consider myself someone who gets depressed easily.  I am pretty chill and I think most people who know me would agree however since my knee operation and its very, VERY slow recovery I found myself becoming increasing depressed which has been magnified by the fact that I am living in a country that doesn’t really take its mental health all that seriously (as it fecking should)!

Putting aside Türkiye’nin domestic and regional tensions an expat here is also contending with bureaucratic bungles, visa issues, cultural differences, language barriers – ugh the list goes on – but all of this has the potential to send even the sanest among us kicking and screaming to the looney bin.  The simplest of tasks become untenable and, as an expat, it’s hard to make people understand that you feel lost and need help.

For me personally I find that, despite being surrounded by family ALL THE TIME, I still feel isolated and unsupported and very much alone.  I would lock myself in my bedroom and cry and cry.  I really started to resent the family, not just The Turk and Daughter, but the extended re-mix of family that lives within spitting distance.  I missed my privacy.  I can’t walk around naked (I would never walk around naked but now I don’t even have that option).  Cooking a meal requires every pot and pan in the house and for feck’s sake why do they all have to YELL????  ALL THE TIME???  It rattles me.  A family dinner is exhausting and takes me days to recover.  A bayram is my personal hell with family coming in from other cities to add to the chaos.  I’m getting the sweats just thinking about it.

The Turk isn’t really as supportive or sympathetic as he should be.  I think growing up in the Village he has seen it all and his mindset is to ignore the problem and it will go away.  Daughter is a hormonal teenager off doing her own thing and I often go days getting little more than a grunt from her as she passes me in the hallway.  So it’s just me.  Alone.  And being alone can be scary.

But what I DO know about me is this I am, in fact, one badass bitch!  I am fecking sensational!  I am Sensational Janey (such moniker given to me by an equally sensational Turk) and I am part of a group of Sensational Bad-Ass Bitches who navigate life here in Mersin.

Now I’m taking it one day at a time.  I find something positive and I run with it.  I went to the pazar in Menderes this week (it is seriously the best pazar in Mersin).  I spent much more than I had anticipated (tomatoes were surprisingly expensive with 4kg setting me back 18TL) followed by a delicious yogurt tantuni with one of the Bad-Ass Bitches that live here.  I am really pushing myself to walk again to build strength back in my legs and to improve my health generally and finally, I am back to writing, which I have always found to be very cathartic.

Oh and I have wine.  A LOT of wine!

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No Winter Blues

When we lived in Oz we always arranged our holiday to Mersin during September.  It was still deliciously warm but there was that cool breeze that soothed the rocking hell-fire that usually descends on the province during August (which has been known to send even me a little deli).  Winters, on the other hand, were a non-starter, no way I was skipping my summer in Sydney for the grey backdrop that would no doubt be Mersin during December or January.

Now that I live here I realise that that was my loss because while Mersin in the heat of summer no doubt rocks, it’s also got some pretty cool moves in the dead of winter as well.

Mersin snow

Falling temperatures sprinkle new magic on the small villages in the mountains and the medieval kalesi (castles) along the Mersin coastline and although I have not done much in the way of exploring thanks to my bung knee this winter I can say that over the years the chill brings a moody new perspective to the province.

snow in mersin 2

Daughter and I did zip up into the mountains a few times this winter and while the city of Mersin or our little village may be grey the Toros Mountains were gloriously sunshiny.  We took My Hurley Dog for a doggy snow day as Daughter had recently seen a video with dogs having a sensational time frolicking in white stuff but, of course, our asshole dog hated every moment of it.  He did, however, manage to find the carcass of some poor animal in the snow and try to drag it back to the car – I swear that dog disgusts me sometimes.

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With a smattering of snow the traditional Turkish villages are so enticing that a trek through the lower hills of the mountain range is something not to be missed.  Oh and for those of you who actually want to attach those silly wooden planks to your feet Kayseri is only 3 hours away with 8 lifts and no doubt more than enough apres-ski nightlife to suit everyone.

The coastline takes on a new role as well.  The beaches are still pristine but now they are empty.  Surprisingly the water isn’t icy either.  I mean I wouldn’t swim to Cyprus or anything but a paddle is pleasant enough.

kizkalesi-winter-4

One of the bonuses during winter is it is much easier to visit the ruins (without self-combusting in the heat).  I have been known to lose myself for hours while exploring the many castles that dot the coastline and winter allows me to continue my exploration without breaking a sweat.

Winter also has salep, which is a mix of hot mastic milk, sugar, and flour made from orchid tubers, served with cinnamon.  Sold from street carts in the old part of the city you can enjoy your salep alongside a paper bag stuffed with kestane kebap (freshly roasted chestnuts), also purchased from street carts.

Today The Turk and I are off to Sarniç, a village 15 minutes outside of the city.  I’ve visited there so many times that he is beginning to question whether I’m having an affair with a local goat herder so today we will go together for lunch to celebrate our wedding anniversary (see we still adore each other – sometimes).  There is a fantastic lokanta on the main road that serves traditional Turkish food (the sucuk hummus is to die for) while you warm your weary bones by a roaring fire.  Yet another great reason to visit Mersin in winter I think.

sarnic-2

I mean if you really need another reason that is …

Disclaimer: my expat friend who lives up in the Yayla would not agree with anything said in this post.  She has had enough of the snow.  She (and her recently Home Alone kedi) wishes that the snow would feck off!

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The Thing About The Turk

The Turk and I have an extremely volatile relationship.  We are hot and cold.  Yes and no.  Up and down (no it’s not a Katy Perry song).  For those of you who know The Turk personally already know that he is an extremely difficult man to live with.  He is completely OCD.  Everything must be spotless.  Everything has its place.  I live with a more relaxed view of things.  Shit happens so clean it up whenever.  He also has a lot of vices.  Things that he cannot seem to control and, despite me giving him ultimatum after ultimatum he will not, or cannot, change his ways.

kemal collage

We have been living together for 15 years now (married for 14).  It has not been easy.  And it’s not that I don’t love him, because I do (well most of the time anyway).  We are just two extremely different people who are, for whatever reason, like oil and water to each other.

I’ve received a few messages from you guys wanting a clarification.  I have dropped hints on a few occasions (my terrace / his terrace) and the truth of the matter is this – The Turk and I no longer live together.  Daughter and I have our own apartment upstairs and he continues to live downstairs and so far this new arrangement is working out just fine.

We are not getting a divorce, we just happen to live separately.  I did ask him if he wanted a divorce and, of course, he said no, “I will never divorce you. Seni çok seviyorum tatlım.”  Ugh!  I mean its 2017, Brad Pitt is finally free of that skinny brunette … and he’s on my List so if the stars would just align then we could finally be together!  As it should be!

The Turk and I still spend time together, one might even say too much time together, and we still make decisions as a couple but our evenings are spent separately (unless we are at a family event of course).  We breakfast together every day.  The Turk still makes us his world famous pizza on a Sunday night and I still make him chicken cacciatore or his favourite meal, Tepsi Kebab.  We still sit each evening on his terrace and have a glass of wine together (clearly I am an Enabler) and talk about our day and go over our plans for the next day.

There is no more fighting (well less fighting) and little things, like The Turks constant need to tidy teenage Daughter’s bedroom, are a non-issue.  And anyone with a teenager will tell you – do not go into their bedroom.  You will regret it.  Or maybe get sucked into a vortex of dirty clothes and rubbish.

Speaking of tidying up my relaxed view on cleaning still sends The Turk crazy and he has been sneaking up to ours to clean when we are out.  I left the camera on the other day and got to enjoy a comedic film of The Turk moving a bowl on the dining table three times before being entirely satisfied with its final resting place.  In the past watching him fuss would have sent me over the edge but now?  Now I merely smile.

I’ve got to say this though … our relationship has never been better.  Everything about this is better.  He is happier.  I am happier.  Daughter is very happy.  The sex is better.  The tension is gone.  The stress is non-existent.  Had I had known that this was the way to have a perfect marriage I would have gotten on board years ago and don’t worry I am sure that every other post will be about me whining about The Turk driving me crazy still … ’cause I’m sure that will never change.

 

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A New Beginning

I promised I would be back in the New Year fresh and with lots more drama about surviving life in my Türk köyü (Turkish village).  I was kind of hoping to start 2017 on a happy note with stories about Christmas parties and New Year’s celebrations and jolly old St. Nick coming to visit us here in Mersin but that had been hijacked by the terrorist attack in Istanbul in the early hours of the morning on 1 January 2017 so I decided to write nothing.

reina

It is clear that I can no longer live in a cocoon ignoring what is happening in my adopted homeland.  It is a hot topic of discussion between the many expats that live here and it seems that there is an exodus happening right now with even lifers packing up and leaving for greener pastures.  I am a lifer.  But I say that with reservations.  I’ve got to.  Again I won’t give an opinion because it is so deeply seeded and there are so many differing views that I will no doubt offend nobody, somebody or everybody *waves again to the Powers That Be*.  I do want to say to my friends and family that I hear your concern and I understand that you are worried but for us, right now and with decisions being made as a family, Türkiye is our love and we cannot abandon her just yet.

So let’s move onto more jovial topics.

I am currently writing this post tonight to the soothing (and rather loud) hum of our very own generator.  Notwithstanding my numerous threats to divorce The Turk if he did not buy me a generator and The Turk’s numerous rebuttals that threatening divorce is more likely to discourage said purchase, he finally opened his wallet, blew away the cobwebs, and made our apartment that bright, beaming light calling out to others in the darkness.  Of course now when the electricity goes our home becomes the place to be with neighbours flocking for warmth, numerous glasses of çay and a place to watch the fecking futbol (which seems to be on all the fecking time!).  So for those of you currently sitting in the darkness with your very own generator envy remember it can be a double edged sword.

flood

I’ve mentioned before that January is Mersin’s wet month.  It rains in January.  A lot.  Actually a lot doesn’t really describe how much rain has fallen here over the past few days.  In fact it was 153kg worth of rain.  Now I’ve got to be honest with you I am not quite sure how they worked out that scientific measurement but that’s the official word.  Yep.  It rained.  Then it flooded.  Then Noah started collecting two of each creature.  And then it became abundantly clear that my new apartment (with aforementioned generator humming away happily) isn’t exactly waterproofed.  Sorry I’ll rephrase that – it became abundantly fecking clear that my new apartment isn’t fecking waterproofed at ALL!  Now that the rain has all but gone (fingers crossed) we have had the builder back who, of course, flat out denied that the water streaming down my wall was due to his shoddy work.  Nooo!  I have now named him The Moose Knuckle and I think it suits him (sidenote: I learned this marvellous expression the other day from a friend and have decided to incorporate it into my daily life).  The Turk has forbidden me from calling him a Moose Knuckle to his face which isnt really a problem because I doubt I could translate it into Türk anyway.  Pfftt!

snow-3

Meanwhile where there’s rain there’s snow and we had a Home Alone situation in the mountains behind us over the Christmas period.  One of our friends had entrusted her kedi to be cared for by us expats while she and her husband returned home for the holidays however due to a massive dumping of the white stuff all roads leading to her home were closed to traffic.  Despite desperate attempts to locate anyone who was holed up in the village plus numerous rescue attempts by expats to retrieve the cold, hungry and no doubt pretty peeved kedi all proved unsuccessful.  Kedi was Home Alone.  Kedi was McCauley Culkin protecting his home from Joe Pesci and the other guy.  But don’t fret readers McCauley was finally set free by two expats who, wearing enough equipment to climb Mt Everest, rescued and transported him to luxurious digs where he immediately took possession of the bed forcing rescuer’s husband to the couch.  As it should be.

duman

Oh and finally I want to thank Expatfocus.com for including Janeyinmersin in their Turkey recommended blog list.  Yah!!!

Enough for now.  I have a glass of red and a humming generator.  Life doesn’t get much better than this.

Iyi akşamlar sevgilerim.

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2016

Will 2016 go down as one of the worst years in history? Is it the year that ‘jumped the shark’?  Is it our annus horribilis? A glance at the news might make you think so.

2016-suckedLast night the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated here in Ankara.  In Berlin, Germany, a truck ploughed through visitors to a Christmas market killing at least 12 and injuring many more.  There was also an attack on a mosque in Zurich, Switzerland.   Meanwhile the carnage continues in Syria with bus conveys sent by humanitarian organisations being attacked while waiting to evacuate families from the war zone in eastern Aleppo.  Oh and the Electoral College just confirmed one of the most unpopular President-elects in US history.  This is just one day.  One shitty day in the year that was 2016.

Here in Turkey 2016 was the year that its citizens endured a failed coup that left more than 300 people dead and over 2000 injured.  Three weeks before that suicide bombers attacked Istanbul Ataturk Airport killing 41 and injuring more than 230 people.  This is just one of over 30 terrorist attacks in Turkey in 2016 (not including rocket attacks being launched from Syria across the border by ISIL militants).

Around the world terrorism raises its ugly head time and time again with attacks in France, Belgium, the United States of America, Germany, Afghanistan, Iraq, Thailand and Indonesia just to name a few.  Thousands of people have lost their lives with scores more injured all for a cause that was not designed for hate.

2016 was also the year that that the US was supposed to get its first woman President but instead they got a right royal goose.  The UK decided to do a Brexit and exit and NATO is imploding before us.

We saw countries close their borders to refugees all around the world.  The US wants to build a wall.  Europe is showing everyone the door and Australia is treating asylum seekers like prisoners locking them on tiny islands and forgetting about them.

But the Syrian war, now entering its sixth year, is the war that only gets worse.  To date it  has claimed nearly half a million lives and left millions of others devastated.  Men, women and children are trying to escape but have nowhere to go (due to the aforementioned border closures).  There is the stench of death all around.  Needless suffering.  Hospitals are being targeted with barrel bombs and children are being used as human shields.  Right now in eastern Aleppo whole families are being rounded up and executed and all of us have been moved to tears at the sight of children being pulled from the rubble or more recently being operated on in Syrian hospitals without anaesthetic.  Syria is under siege and there is no end in sight with foreign powers – including the US, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia – with their own agendas all wanting a piece of the pie.

And we lost Snape.

snape

So after this annus horribilis, jumping the shark year of bok what do I want for 2017?  Peace.  Just peace.

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Phallic what?

It has suddenly gotten very cold here in Mersin, all over Türkiye in fact.  The clouds are heavy.  There is no sun.  At all.  But today while dropping Daughter off at school I came across this sculpture and it cheered me up muchly!

Looks like a penis

What the what???

I know, I know I have to get my mind out of the gutter but seriously what else could it be?

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Wordy wisdoms by The Turk

After a string of messages from you guys about The Turk’s most recent blustering crapfest in “Grow The Feck Up” I realise that he really is a wealth of ridiculous quotes and is constantly sprouting off nonsensical crap.  I really do not utilise his blathering often enough and, as I have been hasta and confined to the couch for a few days, I have had the opportunity to experience more of The Turk than any sane person should have to.  Thankfully I feel the need to share absolutely everything with you so you will appreciate a few of his most recent crapalicious spewings about life, love and everything in between.

kemal collage

Daily conversation – Him:  Has the dog done a bok?  Me:  Yes.  Him:  Was it big?  Me:  Would you like to see it?

Stupidity – People are being stupid today.  I will not speak to anymore of them.

Professing his Love – Him:  Darling, I lurrrvvveee you.  Me:  OK.  Him:  What do you say?  Me:  Thank you.  Him:  This is the reason why I will leave you for Cameron Diaz.  She will appreciate me.  Me:  I think she just got married.  Him:  I hate you.

Religion – You should pray to Beyonce.

A compliment – Him:  You look nice.  Me:  *smiles sweetly*.  Him:  Imagine how good you would look if you were thin.

Movies – Him:  Where is Al Pacino?  Me:  What are you watching?  Daughter:  Twilight.

His funeral – If I die (me:  If?) can you play this on repeat.  (It was “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus).

Walking through our salon – Him:  Did you make me çay (tea)?  Me:  Do you see çay?  Him:  You are a good wife.  Me:  I know.  (Wait 10 seconds).  Him:  Would you like çay?  Me:  Thank you.

Watching me while I yell at him – You look like that girl from The Exorcist but with nicer eyes.

Squeezing my bum – Your ass is like a pillow made of fat.

Pride and Prejudice (the BBC miniseries) – They stare.  They talk.  They walk.  What is this never ending pile of bok?

To Daughter (on love) – All men are assholes.  Daughter:  You’re a man.  Him: *shrugs*

After reading these back I realise that The Turk may just be as mad as a hatter!  I might have to make this a regular post because these few juicy snippets are only over the past few days.  Imagine if I really started to pay attention!

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Mersin Deniz Park

Two posts in one day!  Wowza!

But wait … oh no she is getting on her high horse again *rolls eyes*.

mersinpark

Mersin Deniz Park was opened to much fanfare two years ago at a cost of 35TL million.  The park was approved by the previous Büyükşehir Belediye CHP and has been enjoyed by tens of thousands of people (including myself and my family) since its opening.

The new Büyükşehir Belediye (MHP) has now decreed that the Park was built illegally, has violated many marine laws, was built on landfill and finally the money spent was not in the best interest of the public.  This week demolition work began to remove the illegal structures (no doubt at a huge cost to the public as well).

The Büyükşehir Belediye has also instructed the demolition of many of the small cafes and çay houses on the waterfront declaring them illegal structures (and don’t even get me started on the removal of the outdoor area of one of my favourite eateries Leman Kültür – also an illegal structure).

In a previous life I worked for Environmental Planning Lawyers back in Sydney.  I understand better than most here in Mersin why approvals are necessary and why laws are put in place.  What I cannot understand is why the Büyükşehir Belediye decrees illegal work for previously approved structures and the removal of such structures that generate much needed funds for the Büyükşehir Belediye (and of course the loss of jobs for many hundreds of people).

Well done you gooses.  Well done.

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Daughter’s Big Bang Theory

As my regular followers will no doubt recall Daughter has come to blows with the Din Öğretmeni (Religion Teacher) more than once regarding her religious beliefs so this following tale should not surprise many of you.

Yesterday in Din Daughter’s Öğretmen explained to the students that they should not put up “Noel” trees as it allows students to be influenced by consumerism brought into favour by western influences.  During the months of December and January students should concentrate on their scriptures and on learning about Allah.  One of Daughter’s friends piped up and said that Daughter had a Noel tree and Daughter said, “No I have a Christmas tree”.

The conversation went down a little like this:

Öğretmen:          Are you Catholic?

Daughter:            No.

Öğretmen:          Is your father?

Daughter:            No.  He is Muslim.

Öğretmen:          Is your mother?

Daughter:            (plainly being a pain in the ass) No.  She is a practicing Buddhist.

Well at that point the Öğretmen went bright red and Daughter was certain that she was going to have a conniption.  All around Daughter friends were giggling and Daughter was, of course, enjoying the limelight immensely.

Öğretmen:          Well what religion are you?

Daughter:            I don’t believe in one God.

Öğretmen:          (clearly bothered by this statement) What?

Daughter:            I do believe in a higher entity.  I do believe in good versus evil.  I don’t believe that there is one right or wrong God or one right or wrong religion.

Öğretmen:          But who made you?

Daughter:            My Mum and Dad.

At this stage the class were laughing hysterically and the Öğretmen realises that they have moved from a Religious class to a Sex Ed class.

Öğretmen:          But who made the birds and the flowers and the trees?

Daughter:            It all started with the Big Bang – BANG!

big bang

The Turk has been called up to the school this morning.  He is wishing he stayed in Australia right now.  I am glad I am not going as I find the whole thing hilarious!

BANG!

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