Why Are You Here?

Daughter has fallen victim to the dreaded Grip.  It sounds quite ominous doesn’t it?  It sounds as though we need to send out a bat signal or Spider Man needs to come to her rescue but in fact the Grip is better known as simply the flu.  Yes Daughter has the flu and a little ear infection so I took her to the village doctor for a check-up and perhaps some antibiotics if deemed necessary.

alyssa1

The rest of this story is not about Daughter.  She has had a day off school and is on the mend.  The rest of this story is a bit of a tantrum by me so if you are not in the mood for my drama then close the page because here we go:

Imagine a doctor’s office or a government office or a bank or a post office or, well imagine bloody well near anywhere in Mersin.  Imagine me.  Imagine The Turk.  Imagine an obnoxious Turkish doctor, government official, office worker or man on the street.  And.  Action!

“Yes we moved here from Sydney, Australia.”                                                                “Sydney, Australia?  Why would you come here?  There is nothing here.”              “We came here to give Daughter a family and for her to learn Turkish.”            “You have made a mistake.  You should go back to where you are from.”

This is the conversation that The Turk and I have had about 100 times since arriving in Mersin.  The confusion and hysteria that we imbibe from the everyday man when we say that we live here makes me want to throw something at them.  I find that it is usually the professional Turk that cannot understand our decision to move here the ones who think that they are smarter than we are.  The Doctor or Government official.  I always roll my eyes and turn away while The Turk goes into the usual speech about family, lifestyle, culture, language, blah, blah, blah.

Frankly it is none of your effing business why we have moved to Mersin, just stamp the document or give me the prescription and we will be on our way.  Yes we have moved to a small village.  Yes it is extraordinary and yes you can think it is crazy but you need to try and look at it from our side.

We lived in Sydney and believe me I love Sydney.  Best city in the best country in the world but Mersin and more specifically the Village has one things that Sydney does not.  Aile (family).  A huge family that has been so very welcoming to me and to Daughter.  Kuzlener (cousins) that want to play with her.  Kuzlener that love her (and some that do not).  Teyzer and yenge (aunts) that give her hugs when she is sad and yell at her when she is naughty.  Amcalar (uncles) that slip her 5 lira or take her to the market for icecream and a Anne and Baba who are at home when she finishes school and can spend quality time with her rather than coming home exhausted and stressed from a day’s work.

I know that not everybody can have this opportunity, it is unique to us, but when Daughter was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata I realised that something had to change.  I realised that our lifestyle, running from pillar to post, was damaging her psychologically and if ever an opportunity for a seachange came up I would jump at the chance.  Yes we could have moved to Queensland or even to a small town in rural New South Wales but all that would have achieved is that we would have alienated ourselves even more.  Moving away from friends, no I do not think this would have been the solution.

Moving to Turkey has taken a big chunk of our savings and frankly has put us under a financial strain (The Turk and I are terrible with a budget) but Daughter is blossoming from a stressed little girl who had lost most of her hair into a wonderful young lady who is doing remarkably well at school even though it is in a second language and has made some great friends along the way.

This is the right decision for our family – for now.

Looking Beyond the Wall

I have been looking at oversized wall art or posters to install in our window when the building work is completed next door.  Here is a shot of my current view – thank you very much Vito.

Image

And another shot with My Kedi Cat having a pow-wow with Evil from my window.

Image

Originally I was just going to paint the wall, keep the blinds down and try and ignore the fact that my window that originally had a pleasant village view is now a butt ugly blight but Daughter came up with the bright idea of installing a painting there.  That seemed a little excessive (cost wise) however as an alternative we found some amazing wallpaper that looks like a photograph.  I found this photograph wallpaper of Kalkan Harbour.

Image

Can you imagine this installed in the window?  I think it will rock.  The Turk wants a garden setting (of course) and Daughter wants Calum Hood (sigh) but right now I think Kalkan Harbour will be perfect and honestly a happy wife means a happy life.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, loves their home (even if its surrounded by construction work), and love Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Oh God is she talking about the weather again???

I had no plan to blog this morning but it is pouring outside and there is no way I am putting on my gumboots and venturing into the storm so forgive me as this post has been put together in haste.  In fact feel free to pass it over completely as all I am going to do is talk about the weather.  Quick rundown.  Rain, rain, weather, flood, weather.  There.  Thanks for stopping by.

Seriously though I know I have been banging on about the weather a lot – I am going to say it again – A LOT – but I deem it necessary.  I am amazed at how little it actually did rain here, I mean considering it was winter and all.  Arriving fresh from a Sydney winter (yes it has now been 6 months and I will get to that post another time) I had nightmares of having to live through another 3 months of cold and rain.

So I did what any google-loving person would do and searched “annual rainfall” in Mersin (why have I never done this before).  It seems that I have been incredibly lucky these past few months.  It should have rained in fact it should have been a “Noah’s Ark 2.0, grab your scuba gear and pray to whatever God it is that you pray to” kind of rain so I am grateful that my first northern hemisphere winter was not the blow-fest it could have been.

Image

But now it is spring – yahoo – and it is raining, in fact, Mersin has had a bit of a pounding the last few days.  Daughter came home from school yesterday with the news that the water in the playground came up to her knee (today she wore gumboots to school).  I saw a couple of photos on social media sites too where Mersin’s inadequate drainage is blatantly obvious.  The photo below is from The Forum which is my usual Sunday Funday haunt.  The Forum is actually the largest shopping centre along the Mediterranean coast and one would think that when it was being built the engineers would have taken inclement weather into consideration.  Perhaps not.

Image

Council elections are currently underway and I expect that drainage will become an issue of contention with members of the public in fact last night the local member came to the Village for a meet and greet and was inundated with supporters.  Here are a few photos from last night.  Crazy eh?  Could you imagine that many people turning up to support your local member?

Image

Image

Blog lover?  Please share with like minded people living in the 21st century who, like you, have computers and love Turkey.  You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Toilet Humor

I had to laugh when I saw the recent memes doing the rounds regarding the toilet situation in Sochi.  I wonder if any of the journalists who have spent the last few days complaining about the less than stellar facilities have ever been to a country where the pressure in the pipes is not really sufficient to handle your squares.  I mean that wipes (hehe) out at least half of the world so are these journalists on their first overseas assignment?  Have they never been south of the border before?

Image

When The Turk and I first discussed building a home in the Village I questioned the plumbing situation.  It is not like I fill the bowl or anything but I need the necessities here people – “will I be able to flush my toilet paper down the toilet?”  Yes that is all I want and anyone who has holidayed in Turkey or Greece or, well, many eastern European countries, Asian countries, South American countries (again at least half the world) know “DON’T PUT THE TOILET PAPER DOWN THE TOILET!”.

What I have never understood about the technicalities of Turkish plumbing is the fact that you can drop a rather large kaka in your toilet and it will disappear down the s-bend with no difficulties but god help you if you even placed one square of toilet paper in that same toilet.  The little fucker will block up your toilet from now until judgment day.

The Turk tells me I should be thankful that at least my toilet is of the sit down variety because originally the plumber was going to install squat toilets in both the ensuite and main bathroom.  Seriously?  To quote Roger Murtaugh “I’m getting too old for this shit”.  I mean literally my knees would have given out on me by now.

The first night Daughter and I slept in our new home I will tell you I did a kaka and yes I put that toilet paper in the toilet.  It was an exciting moment – not the kaka the flushing of the paper.  A week or so later I had a telephone call from The Turk back home in Australia, “Jane we have a problem.”

“Huh?”  Picture the total confusion in my voice and on my face.  Thankfully we were not circling the moon at the time.

“You blocked up the toilet!”

“Me?  No!  It works fine.”  And it did because I had been flushing paper down it all week.

“Darling no paper down the toilet!”

“But . . . but . . . you said it would be fine.  I don’t understand.”

I really didn’t understand but what I subsequently found out that my brother in law (who had been parking his car in our basement at the time) had to call the plumber practically on a daily basis to have our pipes cleaned out as there was an overflow of excrement in the basement that was flowing towards his precious car.  He was too scared (read that as too embarrassed) to tell us so kept paying for the plumber himself!

Five months down the track and I have been conditioned to placing my toilet paper in the bin provided.  I hate it of course.  It is so unhygienic.  I have to scrub my hands like Meredith Grey going into lifesaving surgery after I clean that bin out and then there is the walk of shame to contend with.  What is the walk of shame you wonder?  It is not enough that you have to take your garbage down the street and around the corner to the large industrial bins for collection but when you know you are walking down the street carrying your used toilet paper or other sanitary items and then are stopped by a random on the street with a merry “Gunaydin”, honestly, I just want to die!

Çay Time

It is so fecking hard to make a cup of tea in this place!  There is a reason why I like a teabag.  It is easy.  It is simple and it does not require a damn engineering degree just to complete the task.

DSC05983

Before I go any further I wish to point out that at no stage has The Turk ever taught his yabanci (foreign wife) how to make either traditional Türk çay (tea) or kahve (coffee) so when the inevitable time came for me to attempt either of these two beverages it was going to prove a difficult task.  Earlier today I found myself without electricity but with the desire for a “cuppa”.  I bet you are wondering what I did.  Well I became the perfect yabanci eş and attempted to make some Türk tea – some real Türk tea.

My SIL recently gave me a çaydanlik (Türk teapot) as I suspect she was sick of tea bags when she came for a visit.  She also gave me a show and tell on how to correctly make çay.  There is an art in how to prepare Türk çay, pour Türk çay and even drink Türk çay however when SIL was giving me instruction I was a less than stellar student as I was more interested in the biscuits that she had brought over rather than how to make the tea itself (I mean, really, how hard could it be?).

I just want to remind you (in case you skipped it above) that The Turk has never taught me how to make çay so when you read below I imagine you will rally behind me at the suggestion that he has a little “accident” in the near future.

A çaydanlik consists of two separate pieces.  Crazy you would no doubt say.  The Chinese have been making tea for centuries without the need for two pots and my mother (along with her English ancestors) would have scoffed had I suggested that they had been doing it wrong for all these years but this is Turkey and in Turkey you need two pots.  I delved into my cloudy morning mind to recall Songul’s instructions on how to correctly make cay.

2 heaped spoons of çay – check. Water in the pots – check.  Put it on the stove – check.  Pride people.  I took the challenge and accepted my accolades when pride called my name.  Cok guzel Janey!

After about fifteen minutes the water in the bottom pot was boiling so I thought I should take it off the stove but the water in the top pot was nowhere near warm enough I put it on the cooktop to boil.  The Turk wandered past and stuck his larger than life nose in just as the top pot came to boil, “What are you doing?”

(“Building a rocket ship,” was the bitchy wife comment in my head)  Dutiful yabanci replies, “Making çay.”

“Well you can’t do that.”

The Turk proceeded to lecture me about what I was doing wrong and why I was doing it wrong (apparently you do not let the top pot boil as it will burn the leaves) and then gave me a little speech about “tea dust”.  Bitchy wife was beginning to get quite aggravated at this point but dutiful yabanci was still in complete control of my bodily vessel and set forth to make a fresh pot of çay with a smile.

2 heaped spoons of çay – check.  Rinsed for tea dust – check.  Water in the pots – check.  Put it on the stove – check.

The Turk called from the balcony, “Do you need any help?”

“No!”  Arsehole.

Another fifteen minutes had now passed and to be honest I really didn’t want a cup of tea anymore but I persevered as a good yabanci would.  About this time The Turk decided he should come and check my handiwork.  I mentioned that the water is still not hot in the top pot and out of his arrogant male mouth came this reply, “What?  You really have no idea what you are doing do you?”

Any hope of yabanci continuing to reside in this bodily vessel was just thrown out the window, “What the holy mother of all hell are you talking about?”

The Turk nudges me away from the stove and throws the contents of the top pot into the sink – yet again.

“You can’t use cold water.  You use the water from the bottom pot to heat the leaves.”

“How the feck am I supposed to know that?”  Yep bitchy wife is now in full possession of this vessel.

At this point the idea of pushing The Turk off the balcony came to mind.  He had washed the tiles on the balcony that morning and it was still a little slippery.  I stared at his measly body for a moment – I am certain that I could make this look like an accident.

Another 15 minutes now passes while The Turk’s çay simmers away on the stove.  Let’s just add all this time up.  45 minutes after I got the ridiculous notion in my head to have a cup of fecking tea I finally got a cup of fecking tea and if you are wondering if I can taste the difference between this fancy-smancy Turkish delicacy and a Jiggler-bag?  Nope, they taste the same to me.

_______________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, just wants a cup of fecking tea and loves Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

 

Mamma Under The Shirley Valentine

When I used to imagine my life in Turkey I likened it to a mixture of Under the Tuscan Sun and Shirley Valentine with maybe a bit of Mamma Mia thrown in.  I would have the provincial life of living in a small village in Turkey, interacting with the locals, learning the customs, massacring the language, singing Abba songs and all the while making passionate love in the Adriatic Sea with my very own Costas (The Turk).

Image

I realise that Turkey will never be Florence.  I am not walking through those lush fields of green or staring in awe at the beautiful buildings all the while eating delicious Italian food.  No I am wearing my gumboots while navigating muddy puddles while passing by dilapidated houses (old yes but not provincial).  I accept that Turkey will never be Italy nor with The Turk ever be Costas (and would be mortified if I suggested making love on the beach).  I do sing, especially after a few glasses of red, but I highly doubt I would sing an Abba song.

So instead of being Under the Shirley Valentine I need to make it my own story which is full of love, family and joy.  Years ago I attempted to write my autobiography for a writing course.  It was called “Memoirs of a Drama Queen” but that isn’t really who I am now.  I had excessive drama during my twenties, mainly caused by my Mr Mediocre although he is now a distant memory *cough cough*.  I am, however, enjoying the blogging.  It helps me analyse my thoughts and I appreciate the feedback that I have received over the past few months.  I often think my blabbing on about personal things to the world is oversharing to a completely unacceptable degree but then it becomes more of the case of “fuck it”.  I think I am humorous, sometimes, and I think I can be empathetic, sometimes.  I hope my stories are interesting and, on the occasion that I become opinionated, please take that opinion with a grain of salt.

I have a wonderful friend back home in Australia who rings me every couple of weeks and we chat about this and that.  She does, however, give me enough encouragement to continue to write.  She said that I should imagine that it is just her reading the blog – that I am writing just to her.  So to her I continue to write.  My daily happenings.  The silliness.  The sadness.  And the occasional rant.

I miss you my friend and hope that we chat again soon.

Forgotten Anniversary

Lying in bed last night I was going over the day’s activities in my head when I realised the date.  2 February.  Crap!  The Turk and I were married 11 years ago today.  The fact that we are still married in itself is a miracle as I have wanted to divorce him or murder him or perhaps break one of his appendages at least once a week since 2 February 2003.  But the more important issue at hand is that both The Turk and I have forgotten our wedding anniversary yet again!

It really should not be that hard to remember an anniversary should it?  After all it happens yearly, that’s the point.  But without fail either I would forget (and am usually reminded by the Accountant at my office who is excellent with dates) or he would forget (maybe it is a cultural thing because anniversaries and birthdays do not seem to be particularly important to anyone in his family) but the fact of the matter is this time we both forgot.

I nudged The Turk a few times until he woke up, “It’s our wedding anniversary today.”

“Huh?”

“2 February.  It’s our wedding anniversary.”

He rolled over and looked at the time on his clock, “It’s after midnight.  Not 2 February anymore.”

And promptly fell back asleep.

A normal wife would probably have exploded or pulled out a voodoo doll with their husband’s DNA attached at this point but I am not a normal wife.  He’s right.  It’s not important.  I have never been one to remember anyway after all I always relied on Bez from the office to remind me (Bez why didn’t you remind me?!).

This morning I woke up and, remembering that I had forgotten my wedding anniversary (huh?), I set forth to make brunch for The Turk and Daughter.  The Turk had already left to go and help his brother deliver maydanoz (parsley) so I had plenty of time to prepare.  Daughter was happy – pancakes are always welcome for a breakfast treat.

10:00 am and my feast is ready to be consumed when there was a knock on the door.

Kim o?” Who is it?

Unknown Turkish voice came from the other side of the door giving me a nonsensical Turkish reply.  Why do I bother asking?

I opened the door to discover a huge man standing in the doorway.  This man was seriously as large as the door itself wearing all black including a big, black, bushy beard.  He was no doubt a murderer or a terrorist or, well, I just did not have a clue but he scared the shit out of me!  I stepped backwards at the sight of him but then focused on what he was holding in his arms.  2 dozen perfect blue roses.  Blue roses!  I do not think I have ever seen a blue rose before!  The giant pushed the roses to me grunting some more nonsensical Turkish words at me and then disappeared down the stairs.  Daughter began squealing and jumping around and I was stood at the front door dumbfounded.

Image

By the time The Turk arrived home fifteen minutes later I had managed to regain my composure and locate/borrow enough vases to arrange my beautiful blue roses around our home.

“Darling.  Did you get my present?  Seni cok seviyorum.  And do you want to know the best part?”

“What?”

“They only cost 20 lira!”

Daughter threw the book that she was reading at The Turk, “Daddy!  Shhh!  How unromantic!  Jeeze!”

That’s my husband – always on the lookout for a bargain.  Happy (belated) Anniversary anyway.

Failing Religion

It is now school holidays in Turkey which means that Daughter has survived her first term in the Turkish village school.  She has survived classes where no one speaks her language.  She has navigated the social minefields of school life and made friends with kids and teachers alike.  She has gotten in trouble for talking in class, picked a fight to protect a friend and even got called into the principal’s office on one occasion.  She has also received her first Ilkogretim Orgenci Karnesi.  Her Elementary Student Report Card.

How did Daughter do?

You have probably already guessed that I am not only of those mother’s who brag about how wonderful and talented and amazing their child is.  I would rather call a spade a spade.  I will merely say that for a kid who four months ago was coasting along in a suburban school in Sydney she did pretty well.  She got a Certificate for passing the term (which is a good thing apparently).  She received 4’s and 5’s for most subjects (highest is a 5).  She got a 4 in Turkce which is pretty good considering it is not her first language.  The only subject she got a “2” in is Din Kulturu ve anlak bilgisi also known as “Religion”.

Long ago I made the decision to allow Daughter to choose her own religion when she was old enough to make an informed determination.  It is not to me as the parent to force something as important as spirituality on my child.  I always gave her the information when requested.  I took her to Sunday school classes at our local church, arranged for her to meet other Muslim families in our area and even enrolled her in Buddhism classes at Bondi.  We often attended the Hari Krishna Centre at North Sydney (best vegetarian samosa’s around) and I even explained the religion of Jedism (alright so perhaps I made her watch Star Wars with me).  I gave her the tools to learn about spirituality in her own way – and she has.  This is why a double lesson of Din must send her closer to the edge and also explains why she hates her Friday’s so much.

Image

I have, however, made one suggestion to her –

“Please do not argue with the Din Ogretmeni (Religion Teacher) again about Islam as this causes him to go red in the face and gesticulate in a manner that made your father laugh and made me flinch.  It also means that we do not need to make another trip up to the Principal’s Office on your behalf.  Thank you.”

Birthday Lunch

Daughter took me out for my belated birthday lunch today.  We left the Village behind us, passed by the historical (and chaotic) Carsi and travelled west to the more European inspired area of Mersin for lunch at the new Marina.

Image

Arriving at the Marina is akin to arriving back in Sydney and going for a day at Darling Harbour.  Lots of sunshine, tourists, designer shops and European-styled restaurants.  Daughter picked a great looking restaurant that had good old fashioned burgers and, although it was empty when we arrived, 20 minutes into our lunch we were surrounded by a bus load of German tourists who appeared to be drinking their way around Turkey.  They were travelling from Alanya and were expecting to continue their historical tour of Turkey by visiting Tarsus this afternoon.  Honestly I cannot imagine how they will fare wandering around all the historical sites that Tarsus has to offer – I should watch the Haber (news) this evening to see if there was a group of German tourists arrested for disturbing the peace.  They were a very rowdy bunch but Daughter thought they were excellent value and befriended them.  She was having an awesome time.  She taught them some Turkish swear words and they reciprocated by teaching her some not so appropriate German.  It’s great to have a multi-lingual child!

Image

After lunch we spent time in the sunshine just wandering along the waterfront.  It was such a lovely afternoon – we stopped for cay at a tea house, Daughter befriended some puppies (and tried to convince me to take one home) and we brought freshly roasted chestnuts to nibble on while watching old men fishing from the wharf.  As the sun began to set on my birthday day some ominous looking clouds appeared on the horizon.  Rain?  Nah!  But we better find a dolmus just in case.

Image

Incidentally it has only rained four times in Mersin since September.  That’s over 120 days of sunshine.  I get quite excited when I see the clouds and the prospect of rain but it just never eventuates.  I know that Australia is sweltering in 50 degree heat and America is suffering with their “polar vortex” but I must say that winter in Mersin is extremely pleasant.  So lucky!

Image

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, love to travel and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours – Part Deux

So to familiarise yourself with my continuing drama with the neighbour have a look at Part One here for a bit of the background.  Incidentally Part One got me my biggest number of “stat hits” so here’s hoping that Part Deux breaks a new record.

When I look back on my previous homes I realise just how lucky I have been with my neighbours.  As a child we had great neighbours on both sides (although the English couple on our left used to swim in their pool quite naked so I was never allowed to have my curtains open).  At North Sydney I had a lovely old duck who always stuck her nose into everybody’s business but that was alright as she Mrs Mangel’d the crap out of the body corporate and the block always looked great.  When I moved to the ‘burbs I possibly had the nicest neighbour you could hope for and I miss her chats over the fence very much.

Now we are in Karaduvar and as you have already read the cracks showed pretty early with one of my neighbours.

When we built this property we built with the local belediye (Council) approval.  Now admittedly we built right up to the boundary of the property however I will point out again with the belediye and, I would assume, my brother in law’s knowledge and approval being the owner of the adjoining land. Last week I woke to find preparatory building work taking place on the land next door.  I looked out my window to see that they were building right up to the boundary as well.  Again I acknowledge that with the appropriate approvals they can do whatever they like but it was at this point that I also realised that they are building where my windows are so basically when they finish their first floor my window will look out to a brick wall.  What type of holy fucking hell is that bullshit? 

Image

I know that there is always a drama with a large family and I understand that there is jealousy, gossip and misunderstanding by others as to who has what and who does this and that but gee whiz you have large block of land build your shit somewhere else.  Does the belediye know about their intention to build a wall where my window is?  Apparently so.  In my previous life back in Australia I worked in a law firm specialising in development approvals and Council disputes.  Would my boss have a field day with this shit?  Yes indeed but of course we are not in Australia – the land of milk and normalcy.  Looking back I should have realised something was afoot as they did not finish painting on the western side of our house.  Did The Turk know?  He did but chose to not say anything as he knew it would upset me.  Really?  So instead I find out when the concreter arrives and starts pouring?  Yes that is a much better idea.  Also if you knew they were going to build right up to our boundary as well why did you not reconfigure our house during construction so there were no windows on the western wall?  Dumb arse! 

At the moment there is literally steam pouring out of my ears as I watch the concreters work below my window.  I have a few choice words that I want to say but frankly I just cannot be bothered.  These people have become so unimportant to me that bricking up the window will probably make my life better as I will not need to look out at them.  They can continue to alienate themselves from my family and from their own – it is their loss more than ours.

I am going to make a cup of tea and enjoy my window right now as it seems I will only have it for a few more weeks before I can pleasantly look towards a brick wall.  How lovely.