Moving to Mersin?

I get an incredible amount of emails from people thinking of moving to Mersin or Icel.  Apart from shaking my head in bewilderment at the idea (just joking.  I love it here … sometimes) living in Mersin or even living in Turkey offers you a good quality of life in a cultural hybrid of East and West.  It has its history, dramatic geography and frankly in Mersin it has pretty good weather virtually all year round.

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I usually write lengthy replies about the do’s and do not’s that I have experienced firsthand living in Mersin.  I think I’ve got my reply down to a fine art, with some slight modification as the need arises.  So what are my “do’s and do nots” for moving to Mersin?

DO think about your decision.

Why are you coming to Mersin?  Is it for adventure?  Is it for love?  Is it for money?  Moving to the other side of the world or even the other side of the State is a huge decision.  So many factors.  Short term or forever?  Rent/sell your home.  Give up your lease.  Pack your whole life into boxes.  Storage or cargo?  Pets?  Bring them or adopt them out?  (I obviously brought my two fur-babies with me and frankly could not of even imagined this move without them).  Kids?  Bring them or adopt them out?  I am just joking.  Seriously I am.  Remember though there are no hurdles too high.

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DO your research.

What area do you want to live?  Mezitli?  Pozcu?  Carsi?  Mersin is a large city and Icel is even larger (which includes Erdemli, Silifki, Anamur through to Tarsus).  There is a lot of choice.  Kiralama daire (renting an apartment) in the city of Mersin is quite cheap compared to many cities throughout Türkiye.  Do inspect before you sign anything as the quality may not be as high as you would be used to and check what outgoings are included.  Also remember that it is normal for you to purchase your own appliances (yes including your stove) and even light fittings.

What school okul do you want your children to go to?  There are some great özel okul (private schools) in Icel but they are hugely expensive so factor that cost in and mostly they will teach in Türk.  Originally we chose to put Daughter in a village school to give her an opportunity to learn the language by immersing herself in it.  The teachers at the village school were incredibly helpful.  I could not fault them at all and the children were incredibly generous and welcoming.  Daughter even had a nemesis which is, in her opinion, the ultimate show of acceptance.  After two years of learning Türk we moved her to an özel okul which gave us an entirely new set of challenges to overcome.

Where will you be working?  Are you allowed to work?  This is, of course, visa dependent.  Do not attempt to work without a visa.  It will bite you in the ass.  There is a desperate need for English speaking teachers in Mersin along with German and French.  English teachers seem to earn a good living so it can be quite lucrative if you have the right credentials.

DO get the right visa.

You will no doubt be scratching your head with the paperwork, fees, requirements and general stroke inducing migraines that a brought on while traversing the myriad of obtaining the correct visa.  There are different types of visas, short term (tourism), student visa and employment visa.  An employment visa will only be issued if you have a signed job contract and a work permit issued by Çalışma ve Sosyal Güvenlik Bakanlığı (Ministry of Labour and Social Security).  This application must be done in your country of residence.

You will also need a residence permit which must be applied for within 30 days of arrival.  This is issued from the Emniyet Müdürlüğü Yabancılar Şubesi Foreigner’s Division/Alien’s Branch of the Local Police Department and as I mentioned in a previous post entering this place is like entering Mordor.

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There is a lot of supporting documentation required as well so be prepared.  For example – proof of your financial situation, copies of rental agreements or ownership of your own property and (in my case) proof of marriage.  Do yourselves a favour and photocopy all your documents at least 10 times, more if you can.  Also ensure that all documents are translated into Turkish.  Do not believe the person on the street (or on this blog or that blog), you need everything translated into Turkish.  Birth Certificate – translate it.  Marriage Certificate – translate it.  If your child is to go to school you need a document from the school confirming enrolment stamped by the Turkish Consulate in your home country and then translated into Turkish.  Incidentally it was cheaper for us to translate here in Mersin at a Noter rather than back in Sydney.  Finally passport photos.  You have some?  Get more!

DO make friends – with both expats and locals.

I know, I know I do not always take my own advice but I did talk to an amazing amount of people before I moved here on various expat sites.  These guys are already living in Mersin or in Turkey and they will prepare you for the bumps in the road (there will be bumps, sinkholes and even a few bottomless pits before you begin to feel at home here).  Living here is a great experience but it’s not always easy being an immigrant.

DO learn the language.

I wish I had.  I blame The Turk.  Of course now I find myself without the benefit of language.  Paying a bill.  Difficult!  Shopping?  Difficult!  Doctor?  Dentist?  Government office?  Difficult!  Difficult! Difficult!!!  Do a course.  Try Babbel.  Do something so you are not drowning in the deep end.  Mersin is not particularly expat friendly so any attempt to speak the native language will put you in good stead with your landlord or employer or even that bored Government employee.

DO it.  Just do it!

As for the Do not’s I only have one –

DO NOT live with regret.

Oh wait one other piece of advice that will change your life – bring mosquito repellent!  It does not matter how much you have or what brand you have, bring more!  The mosquito’s here are the most desperate bloody suckers you will ever come across.  They may not sparkle in sunlight but they are lethal from dusk to dawn!

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Spring Action

I’ve been incredibly busy the last few days, starting with giving the house a good scrub from top to toe.  It is always so dusty here in the Village, primarily caused by the surrounding farmland but couple this with the building work next door and we are constantly covered in a thin (or thick) layer of dust.  The Turk pulled the refrigerator out and behind it was a family of dust bunnies.  They were quite happy living behind the refrigerator but sadly they had to go as they were multiplying rapidly.  I am pretty sure I never ever cleaned behind my refrigerator in North Sydney but that was more likely because I am incredibly lazy and just assumed my cleaner (or perhaps The Turk) did it for me.  I cannot believe how much dust, fluff and general grubbery builds up here.  I am forever mopping the floor and forever exfoliating the grub from my skin. The house is looking schmick at the moment though, all shiny and dust free (for today anyway).

School finishes here in 3 weeks and Daughter and I am leaving for Sydney the next morning.  I love a countdown but this one is particularly exciting for me as I am going home to see my friends and family.  I am also incredibly excited about eating food.  Australian food.  Pub lunches.  Indian banquets.  Italian.  Thai.  Mexican.  Oh.  My.  God.  You name it, Imma gonna eat it!  Don’t get me wrong I love Turkish food too but here it is just food.  Every day.  God give me some pepper sauce.  I am drooling in anticipation of a good curry.  And then there is bacon.  I miss bacon.  I know, I know we’ve been over this already but I do.  I really, really do miss bacon.  A lot.

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I’ve also been helping The Turk in the garden.  Our spring garden is blooming.  Again no pesticides, we are being as organic as we can be.  Unfortunately we had a late rain last week and we lost some of our vegetables but our green beans are coming in nicely as are our summer lettuce and our corn.  The first strawberries have appeared and our tomatoes are flowering.  The Turk has had to ‘sex them up’ which for those of you who don’t know The Turk or I this is my explanation for him out in the garden violating the flowers with his finger to release their pollen.  He is adamant that this will ensure the flower will become a tomato.  Yes he has been doing this for years with both his tomatoes and his chilli plants.  He swears that it works every single time.  It does.

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Turkey has been in the press this past week.  The devastating loss of life in Soma and the subsequent protests and riots by the public is awful to witness.  The sadness I feel for the loss of life is overwhelmed by my anger eyeballing the behaviour of the politicians and their reactions.  I am sure that wherever it is that you are currently in the world whether it is Turkey or elsewhere you would no doubt have seen the footage of Yusef Yerkel kicking a grieving member of public last week in Soma.  Did you hear that he is now on sick leave as he injured his leg?  That poor man.  Injured while on the job.  Oh how I feel for him.  How lucky that he gets to sit at home and recuperate.  OMFG!  I am sorry but he should have been arrested for assault and fired immediately.  Did you also know that only a week before the Soma accident the political party CHP requested that the mine be investigated for work-related injuries and its safety record but the current ruling party AKP vetoed the request?  Yikes!  My heart goes out to the families of those who lost someone at Soma and my sincerest hope is that their deaths bring about reform within the Turkish mining industry which has an extremely poor record.

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I know I hopped onto my soap box again.  I know I promised I wouldn’t do it but sometimes its a little difficult for me to shut my mouth when an injustice is done.

Enough from me for now.  The Turk has just brought us freshly cooked corn straight from our garden.  A little butter, a little salt and pepper and this snack is fit for a queen – and her princess.

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Double Barrel Post

I woke quite early on Saturday morning – my nemesis has been cock-a-doo-a-doo-ing really, really early (yes my nemesis is my neighbour’s rooster).  I hate him.

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You might recall this post when My Hurley Dog took out one of his women, well I am quite sure that he holds me personally responsible for her assassination and he is now waking up even earlier to cock-a-doo-a-doo outside my window.  I hate him.

The only thing he is good for is a roast, or maybe fry up some pieces a-la KFC.  I hate him and I hate his women (of which there are many).

They cluck.  All day.  Cluck, cluck, cluck.  Clucking and cock-a-doo-a-doo-ing.  I hate them all.

A list of reasons to hate chickens:

They are dumb.  They eat everything including their own poop.  They are dumb.  They are ugly.  They smell bad.  They cannot even fly.  They are useless.  But they are pretty tasty.

I have suggested to My Hurley Dog that if the rooster gets into the garden he is to go for the jugular.  He doesn’t understand me but I know he will do it regardless.  He is like The Terminator without the accent.

The other part of my morning was taken up my My Kedi Cat’s bestie.  We have called him Evil (although by the end of this story you will know that ‘he’ is actually a ‘she’).  Evil was a wild little kitten when we first arrived 9 months ago.  He wouldn’t let you near him but through perseverance and a lot of luck I converted Evil into ‘my’ stray.  I always kept an eye out for him and he would always come running to me if he saw me in the street (actually all the Village Kedi’s do that. I am the Village Cat Lady) and, of course, he is my cat’s BFF.

Last Tuesday Evil was asleep in My Hurley Dog’s bed.  He seemed really dopey and quite sick.  I called him to the door to give him a little food and when he stood up there was blood running down his hind legs.  Worse still there was mucus (dare I call it a plug) on the bed.  Ewww.  I did not know what had happened but when I tried to examine him he ran off.  At this point I realised that Evil was in fact a ‘she’ and I expect that she was either in labour or had had a miscarriage.

Fast forward to Saturday morning and I poked my head out the window and saw Evil asleep in My Hurley Dog’s bed again with My Kedi Cat watching her intently.  She was a mess, the bed was a mess too but in the corner of the bed was a teeny, tiny little kitten.  Really tiny.  See, Evil did not look pregnant, even before the bloody incident of last Tuesday she did not look pregnant so to find this teeny, tiny kitten in the bed was quite a shock, particularly as this would indicate that she had been labour for 4 days.  This little guy or girl was quite a fighter though to have survived thus far.

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My Hurley Dog was a little put out by Evil dropping her bub in his bed so I transferred her and bub downstairs with a clean towel and box.  She’s turned out to be a good little mother too, very protective.

Finally and just because, here are some more photos of Nanu’s babies.  They are a bundle of crazy.

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Kittens make me happy.

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Animal Farm

It’s been a while since I have given an update on the strays around our home.

As you know Stanley has been in the wars recently and unfortunately it has not improved for him.  He is still an extremely loving little cat but we have had to ban him from the stairwell as he seems to have lost control of his bowel.  The vet suggested cat nappies which is just ridiculous so he now is chased out of the stairwell whenever we see him.

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We had a number of female cats pregnant and I mentioned the birth of some kittens a couple of weeks back.  Unfortunately none of those kittens survived but Nanu (my mother-in-law’s favourite cat) also had kittens around the same time and her 5 little ginger fluff balls are now strong enough to run around the back of my in-law’s garden.  It seems that all the other cats that were pregnant have lost their babies or perhaps they are extremely well hidden however none of the mothers seem to have any engorged breasts (is that the right terminology?).  I am really not sure what’s going on.

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The Turk and I are now starting to capture the female cats and take them to the vet for fixing but Nanu will need to wait until her babies are a little older.  We will also take her babies to the vet for a check-up and shots.

I have noticed that a lot of the cats are sneezing and have runny eyes at the moment so I guess a cat flu is rapidly spreading amongst them.  This is a problem as My Kedi Cat has befriended most of the Village Kedi’s and spends his nights out cruising the çiftlikleri (farms) with his akardasla (friends).  His bestie is often found waiting for him on our terrace while he finishes dinner and they swagger off together into the night – classic.  Thankfully he had all his shots before he came to Turkey but I think it may be time for a check-up for him in the coming weeks.  Sorry My Kedi Cat.

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Finally My Hurley Dog caught a chicken yesterday.  Bloody thing somehow ended up in our garden and My Hurley Dog had caught it in an instant.  In the blink of an eye.  Daughter was screaming, I was screaming, The Turk was laughing (and screaming at the dog).  Daughter and I ran out of the garden, across the driveway and was halfway down the street before we came to a screeching halt.  The Turk grabbed My Hurley Dog, forcefully took the carcass off him (he was not giving it up without a fight) and carried it around to show us.  Bastard!

It didn’t end that badly for My Hurley Dog though as Akan (The Turk’s youngest brother) brought half a feking sheep home (including the head) so he scored all the cut offs.  He was one happy little dog last night.

In case you are wondering where my two fur-friends are right now I can tell you.  My Hurley Dog has just come back from a walk with my niece Nisa and My Kedi Cat came wandering in about an hour ago, ate some biscuits and crawled into bed.  Literally crawled into my bed and is under the covers – we won’t see him again until after 6 tonight.  The Turk says it’s like living with a petulant teenager because now that we have giving him his freedom he has reverted to his pre-Sydney personality – that bloody cat or TBC for short!

When Animals Attack

I had my first run in with a scorpion early this morning.  At least I think it was a scorpion.  It certainly looked like one.  It might have been a mutant crab but I am going with my first choice which was scorpion. 

My Hurley Dog and I were walking along a rocky outcrop near the deniz when he started crazily barking in one spot.  Me being me and incredibly stupid gave the rocks a nudge (which on reflection is possibly not the best thing to do in a pair of thongs) and out popped this weird-ass looking mutant waving its nasty-ass looking tail stinger thingy and snap snappy claw thingys which makes me think it was a scorpion.  I jumped out of the way pretty quickly and it skedaddled in the opposite direction from the screaming Aussie and her half crazed Hurley Dog. 

I got home and reported my near death experience to The Turk who pointed out that within a week of arriving in Australia he was nearly bitten by a Red Belly Black Snake and had been bitten by more spiders, ticks, snakes and other various insects while living in Australia than he had in the 40 years of living in Turkey.  Furthermore he had been chased by an emu, kicked in the stomach by a wallaby, stung by a jellyfish and he was pretty sure that a drop bear was conspiring against him while at the koala park.  He said that if Steve Irwin wasn’t safe in Australia then nobody is safe in Australia so I need to stop whinging about one measely little scorpion – the one thing in Turkey that could (maybe) kill you! 

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I agree that The Turk copped a bit of a beating from the natives during his 12 years living in “Strayla” but does that mean that I am going to cop the equivalent while living here in Turkey?  Crikey!

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What on earth has Stanley been up to now?

He has been at it again our Stanley.  This bloody cat appears to have used up another of his dokuz lives.  I found him, yet again, hidden away meowing at the top of his lungs, this time in our bodrum (basement).  What the bloody hell is wrong with him this time?  After a quick examination I could see he has broken little cat wrist.  This has got to be the clumsiest cat in the Village!

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I know how he did it too.  You may recall my brother in law Vito is building apartments that abut our home and all the Village Kediler have been climbing on the construction to gain access to our balcony.  They come sneaking into our house at all hours sending My Hurley Dog into a frenzied state leaving him dazed and confused (particularly if it is one of the cats he intensely dislikes).  I suspect Stanley was navigating across the construction work and without a tail to balance he has toppled over the side.

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Back to the vet for him today.  The Turk is going to be pissed – again.

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Oh No!

Last night I woke at 1:30, rolled over and saw The Turk was missing from his usual spot.  I padded down the hallway to find him asleep in front of the television which was blasting a Turkish soap (no wonder I couldn’t sleep).  I switched off the television but left him there – bugger him for waking me up – and got back into bed.

Still sleep alluded me.  I could hear a puppy whimpering outside.  I got up again and opened my balcony door to investigate.  As expected the boy that lives over the stone fence has brought home yet another puppy.  In the past 4 weeks he has brought home 5 dogs.  His first effort was 3 puppies that cried all night and his mother no doubt made him get rid of them.  The second effort was a boxer dog – nice looking dog – fully grown.  It jumped the fence and disappeared sometime in the night.  This third effort is a German Shepherd puppy.  It cried most of the night and will no doubt jump the fence when he is older but perhaps the boy has learnt from his mistakes and will ensure the garden is secure.

Again I climbed back into bed.  I looked at the clock – now 3:00.  I must have dozed because I woke again at 4:15 to the distorted sounds of a cat in agony.  Holy crap!  I jumped up and spotted Kedi at the end of the bed.  He heard it too because he was standing ramrod straight trying to pinpoint the sound.  “Murroooeewwww”.  Bloody hell!  It sounded like it was dying.  I opened the back balcony door and looked over – nothing.  I went to the front balcony and looked over – nothing.  Crikey!

I was obviously making too much noise and I woke The Turk who growled at me and went to bed.  I was standing at the front door when I heard the sound again.  It was coming from right outside!  I learnt my lesson with the Village Kedi’s and I always make sure that the downstairs door is locked – no more sex in the stairwell thank you very much – but obviously one of them got past me.  Opening the door I find Stanley standing in the stairwell crying.  “Shush,” I whisper to him.  I ushered him down the stairs and out the front door.  He was a little put out and sat there with his back to me.  I shut the door and walked back upstairs when “Murroooeewwww” again.  Shit!  I ran up the stairs, past my front door to the roof.  Nothing up there but some boxes.  I stare at them.  Shit!  Shit!  Shit!

After a little investigation this is what I found –

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This little guy and another 4 like him along with mama hiding upstairs in a box.  Stanley must be the father as they all have similar gingery markings.  Obviously the loss of his tail did little to subdue his manhood.

The Turk is going to be pissed when he gets up.  Why?  The bloody cat had its litter in The Turk’s toolbox – he is going to lose his shit!  He is not a fan of the cats at the best of times but when he makes this discovery – yikes !

I think I might grab the dog and make a run for it.

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Thunder Struck

A clap of thunder just tore through my quiet this morning followed by the irregular, staccato beat of a dozen heavy raindrops clattering on my rooftop.  Moments later the clouds unleashed an assault of such ferocity that I ran to the balcony to witness what I thought would surely be the end of the world as we know it.  Excessive rain.  Major thunderstorm. 

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It’s raining.  It’s pouring.  It’s still warm though.  I sat on my comfy day bed on my beautiful (and 10 weeks later finally completed) balcony and watch the storm pounding the village around me.  I am glad to see the rain too but my reason is a little more selfish.  I love the sound of rain.  I love the smell of rain as it clears away the dust.  I particularly love the smell of rain here as it lands on the mint crop across from my house.  The scent of mint wafts up to the balcony and makes everything smell of toothpaste minty freshness.

I sit with my cup of tea and my Hurley Dog sleeping next to me and enjoy the sounds and smell.  My Hurley Dog is dreaming I think because he growled in his sleep.  Maybe he is having a nightmare about the rain.  My love is his hate because when it rains it gets muddy – really, really muddy – and this means baths, lots of baths.

An Update on Stanley

I thought you would all appreciate knowing how Stanley is.  Just to remind you Stanley is one of our Bahce Kediler (garden cats) and was hit by a car a couple of weeks ago.  The Turk whisked him off to the vet where his tail was, unfortunately, gangrene and was amputated.  Funnily enough this is our second cat that has had his tail amputated (although officially Stanley is not our cat – I have to make that clear as The Turk is back to his grumpy ways about me feeding all the strays around here).

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Many years ago I had a cat which was named “Jon Louis Scheftsik” or “Chevy” for short.  The motto “YOLO” or “You Only Live Once” explained this cat to a tee.  Chevy loved to sleep in the sunshine however he usually liked to do that in the middle of the road.  In the space of his 20-odd years he had been hit by a car at least four times, had tick poisoning on two separate occasions and generally caused more havoc than he was worth.  He did lose his tail though.  At first it was just the tip however the gangrene had spread too quickly so two operations and nearly $2,000 later the vet took the whole tail off.  He did not seem to mind however, he was still as silly as he was pre-loss of tail.  He died a couple of years back and, in case you are wondering, yes he was hit by a car.  Unfortunately I could not find a photo of him but he was a beautiful grey and white kitty with a spot on the end of his nose.

Anyway back to Stanley – he seems to have made a full recovery.  Well not a full recovery but is probably at about 70%.  I expect that he is still very sore.  He finished his course of antibiotics and we still spray the antiseptic onto his stitches but he is back to meowing at the top of his lungs.  He has, however, become a bit of a grumpy old troll.  Not with us mind you just with all the other Bahce Kediler and in particular the ones that favour Daughter and I.  It is clear that he has now taken ownership of our building.  Everything and everyone in the building falls under his domain.  If any of the other cats come within spitting distance of our building there is an all-mighty ruckus downstairs and one of us have to go and break them up.  The bloody cat will injure itself if he’s not careful.

Right now he is sitting on my welcome mat waiting for me to open the door.  Daughter keeps putting biscuits out there so I guess he will not be going anywhere anytime soon but that’s alright with me.  He is definitely a friendly little stray and even though he will not be allowed inside he is definitely welcome anytime.

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.