Pressing the re-set button

2014 and so far it has been a fucking shocker.  My thoughts are a little all over the place so please be patient with me over the next few days.  Yes it is 2014.  Yes I have already had my birthday and yes that too blew balls, understandably so under the circumstances, but I need to look forward and not dwell on the first week of 2014.  If I did this then my whole year was going to be a disaster.

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I decided that the best way to put the first week of 2014 behind me and start the year afresh.  Should I make a New Year’s resolution?  Probably not.  I have never done it before so there is probably no reason to start now but what I do need to do is to think about what I actually want to achieve this year.

There’s the usual things like lose weight or be a better person but these sound more like New Year’s Resolutions than something that is substantial to making me a happy person.  I need to look further within myself to what I really want to do.  While dwelling on the meaning of my life I also realised that I need to –

Learn Turkish.  Just enough to get by.  Just enough.

Talk to Daughter.  Teach Daughter.  Listen to Daughter.  Hug Daughter.  Pre-teen angst.  Mood swings.  Negating my authority.  Yikes.  It’s a bitch.  Deep breath Jane, deep breath!

Be more patient with The Turk.  He’s had a tough first week of 2014 also.  Maybe give him a break now and then rather than being on his ass about what he hasn’t done.  Maybe.

Explore my surrounds.  Turkey is not a big country.  It’s smaller than New South Wales and yet I have never delved further than the beaches.    I need to say it.  I need to do it.  Here it comes . . . ROAD TRIP!

Write.  I was chatting to a friend the other day and she gave me some encouragement with my writing.  “Keep blogging,” she said, “I love your stories.”  Thanks Ris but I may need some more nudging from you over the next couple of months as I try and find my voice.

Alright so this list may not give me all the answers to the meaning of my life but it’s a start.

Hold on people.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Sadness

I was extremely lucky as a child.  I grew up in a home with a mum and a dad who loved me and with a brother that, well, let me just say that he loved me (or maybe liked me) sometimes.  Then when I was 19 I got lucky again when I met my natural mum and dad.  I have forged a good relationship with my natural mother and my natural brothers and sister not the same as with my adopted family but a good relationship nevertheless.  Unfortunately I lost my adopted mother in 1995 and my dad a little while back.  I still see my natural family as often as we can arrange it (well I did when I lived in Australia anyway) but my little family had become very tiny indeed.

One of our decisions to move to Turkey was to enable Daughter to have a relationship with her Turkish family and learn about her Turkish heritage.  Not every child can grow up to have the best of both worlds but we intend to give Daughter everything that we can.  So moving to Turkey it would be.

My luck continues in Turkey with family as well as I had a mother-in-law who I adored and a father-in-law who is a little batty but still a sweet old man.

My cup overflows so to speak.

Over the past couple of weeks my mother in law had had a cough.  Nothing drastic but a niggling cough that over time slowly got worse.  She had made numerous trips to the doctor and to the hospital but the cough was always there.  She still cooked her delicious meals and she still called me down “J-j-j-a-a-a-n-n-n-e-e-e” every morning for cay.  She still washed her husband’s clothes, made him dinner every evening and went to visit her friends in the village.  But you could see she was not strong.  Her smile was not as bright as it once was and her steps a little slower than they once were.  Her eyes showed more sadness but her heart was still full of the love that she gave to her family and friends.

On New Years Day my sister-in-law again took Refika to the hospital one last time where she fell into a coma and soon after passed away.  The sadness I feel right now is overwhelming me.  The tears that flow are real and pained.

I will delve further into this on another occasion but right now the feelings are too raw to process clearly.

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Strike Two

With Christmas (or Wednesday) out of the way I can now start to look forward to the future.  2014 is only a couple of days and The Turk has promised me a blow out New Year’s Eve party to make up for my crappy Christmas.

I am up early this morning for two reasons today.  Daughter has two weeks holiday in January so I have decided to book a week in Istanbul as a surprise.  It will coincide with Australia Day and I am certain that we can find some Aussie celebrations to join in on while we are there (after all I watched the Grand Final on the big screen at a pub in Istanbul in 2010 – Dragons and Roosters if I am correct).  I am also on the hunt for fireworks.  I am told you can buy them here and Daughter wants them.  A lot of them.  I am not sure if she has the potential to be a pyromaniac and this is something I will need to keep an eye on in the future.  She is drawn to fire like a moth . . . like a moth to a flame.  Just call her Moth from now on.

So The Turk and I went into the City this morning to his brother’s office so I can use the internet to book flights and accommodation (as we have no printer).  We also were on the hunt for the elusive fireworks shop.  The Turk’s brother works in an area of Mersin called CarsiCarsi means market or bazaar and this area forms part of the Old City.  I usually try and give Carsi a wide berth as this area always leaves my nerves shattered and my head aching as it is loud, frantic and obnoxious.  It is not my favourite part of the city however if you go early enough (as we did this morning) you can weave your way from Point A to Point B pretty easily (assuming you do not slip on the cobblestone streets).

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It’s nice to go out with The Turk without Daughter or associated family members.  Kind of like a date.  A day time date.  We start the morning with corba for breakfast.  I stick to my favourite Ezogelin Corbasi (Red Lentil Soup) while The Turk had Iskembe Corbasi (Tripe soup).  While we were having our soup the chef who happens to be The Turk’s arkadaş (friend) came over and told me the history of my soup.

Ezogelin Corbasi originates from the village of Dokuzyol where a beautiful girl by the name of Ezo was born in the early 1900’s.  Her black hair and rosy cheeks made her very popular with the camel riders who stopped for water while en-route along the Barak Plains.  Unfortunately her first marriage failed and she left this man for another.  She moved to Syria and re-married.  Her mother-in-law disliked her (probably because she was not a virgin when she married her baby boy) and in an attempt to please her mother-in-law she created this delicious soup.  The soup is now served to new brides, right before their wedding, to sustain them for what lies ahead (wink, wink).  And what happened to poor Ezo you wonder?  Well she died of tuberculosis so it isn’t a great ending but still it is a delicious soup.

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After our corba (which incidentally cost a total of 8TL or about AU$4.00 and this included two soups, bread and salad) we started through Carsi in an attempt to find the elusive fireworks shop.  I toddled along behind The Turk trying to keep up with him as he weaves his way through the streets when he suddenly spun a 180 and took off in the other direction.  I was unsure what was going on so I kept walking ahead thinking I would meet him at the end of the street.  Looking up the street I saw a crowd.  A large crowd.  As I got closer I saw police.  A lot of police.  Shit!  Some husband The Turk is.  Does a runner and leaves me in the middle of a protest.  So what does any quasi-tourist do when confronted with a newsworthy item?  Take photos of course!  I tried to get into the thick of things (safely of course) however the protest escalated quite quickly and when the Polis stepped in (who were waiting around the corner for the shit to hit the fan) I felt the best thing to do would be to get the hell out of dodge!  I spot The Turk pushing through the crowd, grabbed his hand and he propelled me down the street to safety.

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What are they protesting about?  The Turk does his usual “bilmiyorum” (“I do not know”) which does not surprise me as he only watches the futbol or the horses.  I will not even begin to say I understand Turkish politics – hell I never understood Australian politics so trying to get to the bottom of what is going on in Turkey is ridiculous.  I can say, however, that a political shit storm brewed when two Turkish cabinet ministers resigned on 25 December 2013 for taking and facilitating bribes.  From here there have been other resignations of high powered associates (including a Police Chief in Istanbul) and now a major reshuffle of ministers.  Corruption. This, coupled with the Gezi Protests in May, seems to be enough to tip Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s out of office in the near future.  He has had a good run – 3 terms – and elections are expected in March.    I cannot see how anyone could recover from the accusations made against his party although at a speech made Friday afternoon he firmly pointed the finger at those accused and his deniability of the whole matter.  As you do.

Things are only going to get worse in Turkey, economically and politically, before they get better.

And no, I did not get the fireworks.  The Turk has promised he will go back into the city this evening and get them for me.  This is my Second Strike, having been late home last week and making The Turk “needlessly” worry about me.  He has now placed me on probation.  If I leave the house and get myself into trouble again who knows what he will do to me.

The opinion giving in this piece is my opinion only.  I am not a political commentator merely a spectator and layperson

Being Scrooged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Little Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling Inspiration

We lost the internet for a couple of days – 4 days to be precise.  It amazes me how much time I waste sitting on my laptop aimlessly clicking on pages.  It numbs the mind.  It stops you for achieving what you intended to do so for the past few days I have actually achieved quite a lot.

I have been in a bit of a bubble since I have arrived here – it has been more than three months.  Did you know that?  Yep we have been here on the other side of the world on the crazy train for over three months now.  Things are different.  It is not the same.  New home.  New language.  New food.  New faces.  New life. 

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Daughter has started a new school, The Turk is finding it difficult to settle and I am the paste that holds this family together.  But yes three months of living in this rural village in Turkey.

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I have not made friends.  I have family – yes.  I have social interaction.  There is my sister in law Songul who is possibly the sweetest person you could ever meet.  I have laughed with her on a good day and have cried with her on a bad one.  I have a mother in law that is kind and generous – not everyone is as lucky as I am.  There is my brother in law Umit who has helped me wade through the bureaucracy that is the Turkish Government and helped me obtain my Yabancilara Mahsus Ikamet Tezkeresi (Residence Permit for Foreigners).  There are people in the village that always say hello or Merhaba and ask me in for cay but friends?  Well not really.  So last week I reached out to a couple of ladies who live in Mersin and are in a similar situation as I am. 

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A plan was hatched.  A date of set and a destination was decided upon.  Saturday morning came and I left the house quite early, firstly to ensure that I arrived at the destination (Starbucks) on time but also so I could do a little sneaky Christmas shopping on the side.  I never drink coffee, never have, but Starbucks is known the world over so where better a place to meet people – and meet people I did.  It was with pleasure and a lot of joy that I met Alannah and Melis.  Alannah is from Northern Ireland and works as an English teacher and Melis is a beautiful German lady (of Turkish decent) who is married to a local fellow.  We fell into conversation easy – there was no lull which I think showed the genuine friendship that was being formed.  Time flew quickly and then it was late afternoon – I could not miss my dolmuş (shared taxi) home. 

After being revitalised by these ladies (how I have missed having a chat) I rushed off to catch my first dolmuş.  One of the things I love about Turkey is the dolmuş.  Dolmuş means “apparently stuffed” and most of the time they are.  You climb aboard and hang on for the ride.  In Mersin the dolmuş all have a set route and as long as you are on the route you can wave them down as they pass.  No walking to the closest bus stop for us here just put out your hand and they will come.  The driving is usually excellent, well as long as you do not mind that your driver is smoking, or talking on his mobile, yelling at a customer, counting out change, swerving recklessly though traffic, dodging people on the road or generally disobeying every traffic road rule known to man.  A marvellous way to get around. 

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As I arrived in Atas it was quite clear that I was going to have to walk home as this small industrial area (where I connect to a dolmuş to Karaduvar) was quiet.  All the businesses were closed and there was not a soul to be seen after all it was cold, very foggy and in the dark Atas is a little bit intimidating.  I had started trudging down the dark street, slightly nervous, when I realised that I was being followed.  Crap!  Danger!  I walk a little faster (difficult in the boots I was wearing).  The footsteps behind me kept pace.  Buggar.  I glanced over my shoulder but it was too dark and too foggy to make out a figure.  Where is the bloody dolmuş when you need one?  Now I could hear breathing, wait, no.  It is panting.  I stop and spin around to find a large dog sliding to a halt behind me.  The big black dog looked at me quizzically, “Woof.  Why did you stop?  I was enjoying our walk.  Are we not going to your house where you will feed me?” he seemed to ask.  As I am more scared of the kopeks (dogs) than the people I was thankful that a dolmuş came along and I jumped on arriving home only slightly later than anticipated . . . however . . . The Turk had been waiting and was worried (everyone now goes “Awwwww”).  Yes he had stopped a few dolmuş.  He had let his family know I was missing, possibly dead and had his cousins searching the streets for me.  I jumped off the dolmuş oblivious to his concern and saw him standing, waiting for me. 

“Where have you been?”

“With friends.”  I like to be a bit vague, make him worry a bit (not realising that he had sent out the cavalry looking for me).

“It’s late.”

“No probs.  I’m here.”  Realising there was something afoot I asked, “You ok?”

“No,” he yelled, “I’ve been waiting for you.  I was worried.”

Again – awwwwww.

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Anyway back to the lack of internet.  Yes I had no internet for four days and it sucked.  I had no internet.  No electricity on Saturday night or all day Sunday and no telephone until Monday.  I have decided that I could disappear of the face of the earth and no one would know – well not until people realised I had not blogged for a while anyway.

But having no internet meant I did get other things done.  I made soup – oh my most exciting news (how sad do I sound – this should NOT be my most exciting news).  I found butternut pumpkin and made a delicious pumpkin and ginger corba (soup).  The Turk’s family have never had pumpkin soup before so I was inundated with people trialling my concoction.  I think it was good.  Daughter says it was good (although a little peppery).  The Turk’s family made lots of noises and said lots of things.  I am not really sure what they said but I am going with the fact that they thought it was delicious.  Wonderful.  Best corba ever!  Cok guzel!

My other news is that as many of my personal friends know I do love to write.  I have started and discarded many novels over the years.  With no internet, Daughter at school and The Turk going off with his brother to deliver maydanoz (parsley) to the restaurants I was taking my Hurley Dog for a walk and was inspired.  Not JK Rowling, become a billionaire inspired but inspired enough to open the laptop and type.

This is a good thing. 

This is what I want to do.

It has begun.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Looking at my various social media apps I see that Christmas is approaching rapidly.  My friends and acquaintances are starting the Christmas party rounds (my favourite part of Christmas) and are no doubt burning a hole in their credit cards purchasing presents for loved ones.  I am, of course, in a country where Christmas is not celebrated readily and, in fact, will fall on a school day much to Daughter’s horror.

“I am NOT going to school on Christmas Day!” she screeched at The Turk and I.

We both tried to talk to her, to explain the differences in culture and even to explain that her extended family just cannot afford to purchase expensive presents for her and her kin but sometimes you just cannot argue with an 11 year old girl.  To be honest I am a little disappointed with The Turk.  Christmas is an important tradition to both the Daughter and I.  It is a tradition that always brought my small family together and, even though I have moved to his country, I do want a little bit of my traditions to stay with us. 

I spent yesterday on the internet researching the traditions of Turkey at Christmas time.  What can I work with and how can I make this special for Daughter without offending anyone?  Turkey may be a predominantly Muslim country however Christian traditions are well known throughout the country.  What we call a Christmas Tree is known here as a Yilbasi Agaci (New Year Tree) and presents are usually handed over on New Years Eve.  I can definitely work with this tradition.

Noel Baba (Saint Nicholas or as we know him Father Christmas) was a bishop that lived in the 4th Century in a town called Myra in Asia Minor (now Turkey).  His reputation of helping others less fortunate by giving gifts became the basis of Father Christmas and also why we hang stockings.  Another tradition that will ensure that Daughter will have a Christmas (or New Year) to remember.

I did not forget the birth of Jesus Christ either.  There is a Catholic Church in the heart of Mersin.  I passed it a few weeks ago and I made a point of inquiring about Christmas sermons.  Yes, they have them and yes, they are in English!  Another tick on my family traditions (even though we am not Catholic).

When packing up our home in Sydney I ensured that all my Christmas decorations were packed and today being 1 December I went on the search in Mersin for a suitable Christmas tree.  The Turk said it would be doubtful that I would find one but as I walked into The Forum I saw Christmas decorations everywhere!  I was thrilled.  Yes!  No doubt the marketing Gods have been hard at work within Turkey as within minutes we had located not just a tree but all sorts of decorations including fake snow, reindeer and a Santa for the roof.  The Turk reeled me in a little knowing full well that we would never have gone to this extent in Australia but I argued that this is my first Christmas away from my family and friends and I want it to be a special one.  Another argument lost so I merely purchased a small tree and some lights and, adding my already large collection of ornaments this afternoon we erected our tree and I must say it looks pretty darn good.

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Perhaps Christmas may not be in the same tradition as it was in Australia (after all it is usually 30 degrees and we hit the beach after lunch) but maybe we can make a few new traditions, some that she can continue when she has grown up and has her own buggerlugs running around.

Incidentally I have heard more Christmas songs today than I ever heard in Sydney. 

Bad Hair Day?

You are not the only one.  Everyone has them.  I have had one practically every day since I have arrived here.  But today is not about me.  It is about my Hurley dog. Hurley is a cross bichon / poodle.  Probably not the best designed dog for the Turkish lifestyle.  Regardless he is part of this family and is given a lot of love and affection from not just us but now his extended family here.

Here is a photo of my Hurley dog on any given day.  Looking a little shaggy, a little dishevelled and a little like he has been lost on a deserted island after a plane crashed and was chased by polar bears.  Wait!  Hold on a minute.  That is Hurley from the TV show Lost (which was who he was named after due to the fact that Daughter watches way too much television).  But they do look remarkably similar do they not?

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Before leaving on his journey to Turkey I had Hurley sent to the kuafor for a tidy up – does he not look fantastic!  A doggy day spa in Australia is a pampering for your doggy baby.  He is shampooed, mani/pedi and if you say you want an inch off all over – that is what you get!

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But in Turkey it is obviously a little bit different.

I had asked The Turkey (typo but now that it is written I think it should stay) to take Hurley for a tidy up as he spends his days running around in the mud on the roads and farms and, of course, we are having building work done so there is concrete and dust and, well, he just downright smelled!  So after some telephone calls The Turk and Hurley went to Mezitli (the “fancy” part of Mersin) for his doggy day spa. Should I have gone?  Perhaps.  Will I go next time?  For sure!

Here is my Hurley dog having a really bad hair day in all its glory.

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My beautiful boy has been butchered!  I should mention that it is getting colder as every day goes by and that of an evening it can get downright chilly.  So Hurley has now taken to jumping into bed with us and grabbing the blanket to make his own “nest” to keep warm.

I might need to buy him a jacket.

Lost in Translation

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Thanks to Cukurbagli’s http://cukurbagli.wordpress.com/ comment below it turns out that I still cannot speak Türkçe properly!  Finger’s crossed I chose the right translation. 

This Meme could not be further from the current predicament that I find myself in.  It is impossible to keep calm and learn Türkçe (no that is not a typo, it is the correct translation for Turkish).  Learning Türkçe is a time-consuming pain in my arse.  I am useless not just with Türkçe but with languages in general.  I can, of course, swear in many languages (I think swearing is the first thing you learn when you arrive in a country) but conversational Türkçe is proving more laborious than my pea sized brain can handle.  The Turk (in this case my husband) has suggested that I take a language course at Mersin University but this will not start for a couple of months so in the meantime I muddle through as best as I can.

It is easy for me to be confused learning this language.  From going to the market to a conversation over the fence I get embarrassed quite regularly with my phonetic blunders.  Funnily enough I do know a lot of singular words and learning the words is quite easy once you have learnt the alphabet.  I find the issue is stringing the words into a sentence.  Why? I think the correct term would be word order.  So rather than saying “where is the cat?”  It is would be, “cat where?” or in Turkish “kedi nerede”.  See my confusion.  It is a little like talking with Yoda –

“Powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you.”

Daughter has, of course, been going to school so is picking up conversational Türkçe quite easily.  She also has a teacher that comes to our house each evening and spends time with her to help her transition with the language and to assist with her homework.  I am impressed with Daughter’s speed at picking up the language (and a little envious) but even she finds learning Türkçe exhausting.

I laugh now at my heady statement made before I left Avustralya (sorry did you mean Australia?).  Far too often and to far too many people I stated that I could get by without any Türkçe.  It would not be necessary for me to learn the language.  Since arriving in Mersin it has become quite clear just how foolhardy I was.  There are days when I find myself deflated from the simple task of paying the water bill at the Posta (Post Office) but the gratification I feel when I see the recognition on the face of the shopkeeper or my neighbour smile when I ask how they are in their native language . . . well let me just say that it is a high five, fist pumping “boo ya!” moment for Jane!

It’s hard to get that real good feeling about festivals sometimes

On Sunday Daughter and I were invited to a “festival” to celebrate Cumhuriyet Bayramı (Republic Day) which takes place on 29 October of each year. I have been to my fair share of festivals over the years however upon arriving at Mersin Stadium I couldn’t help but think that my sister in law and I had differing views on what a “festival” actually was. 

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After going through security (which included a pat down which I would normally reserve for the bedroom) I looked around at the “festival” that was just beginning as we arrived.  Yes there was a stage but I still had a niggling feeling that this festival was going to be slightly different – but hey, when in Rome.  Perhaps it would just be music (just as the festival gods would have intended).  I looked at the stage for instruments but these were also lacking. 

Oh dear.

Daughter did find fairy floss so all was good in the world of 11 year old girls but for me I started to think that perhaps this was going to be unlike any festival that I had been to before.

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The place was packed.  People were everywhere waving their flags and talking excitedly amongst themselves.  I mean these people were looking forward to whatever was about to happen so we sat down with my sister in law just as the Turkish National Anthem began to play.  Everyone jumped to attention and sang along – even Daughter knew the words having been at school now for nearly two months.

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The first speaker came on stage to speak.  Fair enough.  I mean it IS Turkey and I guess they really do like their speeches.  When his speech ended and the cheering dissipated another gentleman came on and gave another speech.  Then another.  And another.  What type of crazy arse festival is this?  Moreover I looked over at my sister in law and wondered what type of person would call THIS a festival?  This was no festival!  This was a political meeting and it did not look like it was going to end anytime soon.  It was a hot afternoon in the sun and thankfully I dozed off (which was a real skill considering the amount of cheering and flag waving around me).  When Daughter woke me I found out that I had been snoozing happily for about 2 hours and it was time to go home.  Thank goodness! 

I guess attending a political meeting in a Muslim country can be officially ticked off my Bucket List now . . .