Spit or Swallow?

I have a friend named Millie who, along with her family, is lucky enough to be spending a year in Italy.  We are similar people Millie and I, in similar situations and, those who look at her blog, will see we too have similar styles (hello Confit theme).

I originally met Millie at a health centre in North Sydney.  We both took a Cardiolates class together which for me, as someone who hated exercising, I actually loved.  How could it be exercise when you were on a trampoline bouncing around to music?   Our kids also went to the same school so it was no surprise that we finally crossed paths.

Millie recently wrote a piece here about the darker side of Italy and it brought a big grin to my face when reading it. 

In short Millie has taken good issue with the fact that she is in the beautiful Tuscany countryside but spends most of her life with her head down dodging poop (canine) or vomit (human) on the streets.  Like I said I laughed out loud when I read this because in Turkey the pooping and spitting is rife (I have not yet spotted vomit thankfully). 

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The dog poop does my head in.  When I left Australia I brought 10 packets of doggy poop bags with me (I am ready for approximately 1000 poops by My Hurley Dog when on our frequent walks) however I find myself picking up not just my dog’s poop but the poop from strays as well as other dogs whose owners just ignore the fact that their dog is dropping their bundle out the front of my home.  It seems that the local strays have turned the little track that leads of our house into their toilet and every morning there is new and sometimes explosive doggy poop to wash away.  Daughter (who is reading over my shoulder) just pointed out to me that there is horse poop also on the track.  Horse poop is fine.  It is fertilizer.  It doesn’t even smell that bad and it is from a working horse not a stray dog.

Then there is the spitting.  I know it is a common practice in Asia and the Middle East and the Turks are well versed with the ideology of hocking up your lurgy and spitting it to the ground.  I accept that to them it is more appropriate to do this than to use a tissue (although I am at a loss as to why this is more appropriate) and I completely understand that some people have health issues and need to clear their passages but come on!  I really have no interest in watching a middle aged, portly Turkish man (or woman!) launch a grenade-like  green substance onto the street.  Even worse is when I watch a young man or a child spit as they pass.  I want to yell at them, “Don’t do it.  You are never going to get a girlfriend” but all these boys grow into men and, of course, the circle of spit continues.

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As I am typing this paragraph alone I can hear the builder’s next door working and I think I have heard at least 3 flying lurgies with such ferocity that they shook my windows.  Nice!  Daughter has just piped up with “Better out than in.”  I am thinking about sending her from the room.

I recall reading an article last year about a Professor travelling through Asia to study the cultural differences of spitting.  Well!  Imagine putting that on your resume. 

“Good day and nice to meet you.  I am Professor Blah Blah and this class is Spitting 101.”

He sounds hot doesn’t he?

I am sorry to anyone who is offended by my giggle.  I mean no personal offence.  I understand it is cultural and a health issue at times, but please, I find myself dodging spit bombs as I walk down the street and wonder if I should be wearing a raincoat for protection.  Daughter final input to today’s blog is the suggestion that gumboots would be necessary for protection and, of course, and to match the raincoat.  Because style is important!

I will finish this by asking the question – Is Justin Bieber Turkish?  Biber?  Turkish word.  Spitting?  Hmmm.

Stanley

The Turk has disclosed his deeply guarded secret.  It seems he is a bit of an old softie at heart.  As you know since my mother in law’s passing our family has taken over feeding the Village Kedi’s.  This has been generally successful ie My Hurley Dog has only chased the cats a few times, the Turk always buys extra cat biscuits (when they are on sale) and Daughter is happy that the cats have not been discarded by the family.

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Let me introduce you to Stanley.  Named by Daughter Stanley is a personable little beggar.  Has a very distinct meow you can hear two towns over and loves nothing more than to sit on your lap (or your shoulder).  I would often open my front door to find Stanley sitting patiently by the door in the hope of a feed or a pet and he would often walk around the block with My Hurley Dog and I (at a reasonable distance as My Hurley Dog would sometimes give chase).

When Daughter and I returned from Istanbul she did her usual head count of the Village Kedi’s and Stanley was missing.  “He’s probably just out in the garden somewhere,” was my suggestion.  Another couple of days passed and Stanley was still nowhere to be found, “Dead,” I whispered to The Turk out of Daughter’s earshot.  He would shrug and change the subject, after all he is not a fan of the Village Kedi’s.

Last Saturday night we were having a BBQ at my father in law’s house.  Suddenly Daughter screamed from the street out front.  I ran out to find her bent over what appeared to be a dead cat, “Mum, it’s Stanley.  Look at his tail!”

I looked.  Gangrene.  Yikes.  Poor buggar was probably hit by a car.  Probably about a week ago.  Frankly it was a miracle that it lasted this long.  I chased all the children away and ran to get a cage but by the time I returned Stanley had disappeared.  Daughter was distraught but The Turk and I got her off to bed and went back outside to search for him to no avail.

On Tuesday night I was taking My Hurley Dog for a walk when he started going crazy at an abandoned shop.  I stopped and stared at the door (must have looked like quite the goose).  I put my ear closer and could hear that distinct little meow albeit quite weak meow that belonged to Stanley.  I ran back home and grabbed the cage and The Turk.  He broke into the shop (“it’s ok it belongs to my cousin” was his reply when I questioned his breaking and entering) and searching through the darkness he finally found Stanley cowering in the corner.

With some BBQ chicken and a miracle Stanley came over to The Turk (still walking = good sign) and we got him into a cage.  Wednesday morning The Turk took Stanley to the vet and stayed with him most of the day (because he did not want him to be alone).  Stanley was operated on and unfortunately the gangrene was pretty bad.  He lost his tail but the vet was positive with the outcome of the operation.  Stanley should recover from this ordeal a little wiser (keep away from cars) and a little lighter (well he has lost his tail).

The Turk brought Stanley home last night and we moved the walking wounded in the empty apartment downstairs along with My Hurley Dog’s bed, more BBQ chicken, water and milk.  The Turk sat with him for a while “just to make sure he is alright”.

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When I woke this morning The Turk was not beside me.  I got up and, on a hunch, scooted downstairs.  Low and behold there he was on the floor with Stanley asleep beside him.  Yep it seems The Turk is a bit of a softie despite his gruffness to most of the world.  He had better watch out.  People are going to think he is nice or something.

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).

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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.

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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.

Sex in the Stairwell

Not me and The Turk – get your minds out of the gutters people.  It is mating season for cats in Turkey at the moment and the Village Kediler have been busy at it morning, noon and night.  My mother in law had what we fondly called “the whacking stick” to give a good tap to any cat who ventured too close to her Nanu or any of its offspring.  Of course since my mother in law passed away I (and My Hurley Dog) have taken on the job of protecting the strays from lusting he-cats.

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As you all know from my posts here and here My Hurley Dog is not a fan of Nanu and this revulsion is equally reciprocated by her however since the onslaught of two particularly nasty (and horny) he-cats My Hurley Dog and Nanu have maintained a relatively calm cease fire.  Nanu has been cornered on more than one occasion by the nasty he-cats and My Hurley Dog upon hearing it or seeing it races past Nanu straight for the culprit.  It seems that My Hurley Dog has accepted that he must share his domain with the Villager Kediler but dog damn it (typo but stays) he will not share with these two interlopers that have nothing but sex on the mind.

Last night it all came to a head when it seems I forgot to lock the downstairs door thereby allowing our stairwell to become, well, a bordello for the evening.  At around 3 am the sound of horny he-cats coupled with screeching she-cats woke us all up.  Daughter screamed thinking we were under attack, The Turk merely put a pillow over his head and went back to sleep which left me and My Hurley Dog to go and stop the onslaught.

Opening the front door I was confronted with the site of Nanu and two of her offspring screaming past me followed by big buff ginger and white he-cat spitting fire as he ran up the stairs in hot pursuit.  Well this was all My Hurley Dog would stand for and he slid past me and chased all 4 of them onto the roof.  I too gave chase (grabbing my whacking stick on the way) and arrived on the rooftop to witness he-cat on top of small ginger girl, Nanu attacking he-cat from behind and My Hurley Dog throwing himself into the mix.  I ran screaming, ninja style across the roof wielding my whacking stick and sent all 4 of them in different directions.  Just then the light came on from my niece’s window next door and My Hurley Dog and I came to a running halt, shocked by the light or perhaps embarrassment.  My niece stuck her head out the window “Ne yapiyorsun?” (What am you doing?).

I must have looked ridiculous standing there in my ugg boots, wielding my whacking stick at non-existent cats (as all of them scattered as soon as the light came on).  I sheepishly waved goodnight and ran back downstairs, locked the security door and returned to my bed.  Daughter informed me that it sounded like elephants were running across the roof (thank you!) and The Turk asked me to get him a glass of water!

Good night!!

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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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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.

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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.”

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!

Realisation

I came to the realisation yesterday that I have been excessively blogging as a means of ignoring my feelings.  The time that I have spent sitting at the computer (mid-morning after breakfast and prior to Daughter returning home from school) is the time that I would usually sit with my mother in law in the sunshine enjoying a cup of cay.  So here I am trying to fill this void with typing (as I am doing right now at 10.29 am).

So today I am going to walk away from the computer and perhaps have a little time to examine my feelings.  I understand the finalisation of death although I still wait for Refika to call me downstairs.  I think it is more that I loved my mother in law as an akadas (friend) as well as a motherly figure (and the fact that I had watched her smack The Turk with a stick when he pissed her off).  Her and her little gaggle of friends welcomed me into their lives and she accepted me as her daughter not her daughter in law.  Sure I was a yabanci (foreigner) but Refika always included me in her day whether it was teaching me to cook the Turkish way, visiting her sisters for a good gossip session or merely watching her favourite shows on television.

Looking out my window I can see it is yet another beautiful, sunny day in Karaduvar.  Time to close the laptop and get out there.  Enjoy the sunshine and enjoy my life.

Until next time.