Love Rat

The Turk could have been a love rat, in fact, I am sure there are people that read this blog that knew The Turk before me who are nodding their heads in agreement and coming up with examples to put in my comments.  I was merely in the right place at the right time.  I have no doubt at all that he was a “playa” pre-Janey although now he is better known as a marouk (old geezer).  He likes to think he could still pull them in if he got the chance.


Over the past few days there has been a lot of talk about Turkish Love Rats (TLR) and Love Rats in general on the social media sites that I am connected with.  I am not going to get into a debate about what is or is not a love rat.  I am merely going to tell you a story.

*names have been changed to protect my beautiful friend

Amanda met this TLR while studying at college in her home town.  They had a wonderful romance that ended when he returned to Turkey.  Over the years they lost contact, she moved on, got married, had a beautiful little girl and subsequently divorced.  She would often think about that boy that she knew all those years ago and wonder what might have been had circumstances been different.  Thanks to Facebook they re-connected and their love affair was re-kindled.  She visited him once or twice in Mersin and they fell deeply in love.  Aahh romance is wonderful.  Seni cok seviyorum.

Promises are made.  Dates are set.  She packs up her life, kisses her family goodbye, leaves her job and her friends and she and her daughter move to this wonderful country for this wonderful man.  Her daughter is happy.  She loves it here.  She is happy.  She is in love.  He, however, the TLR, has decided that he does not want to be a father to her daughter, she is in fact not the girl for him and began to see another, one a little more suitable (read that as Turkish).  His friends knew and they did not tell her but instead continued to court her as his fiancé.  His family knew but they kept it a secret and still helped her pick out a wedding dress and a venue.  This woman was duped in the worst way possible.

As I write this I wonder what his family and friends actually think of him.  Right now.  Do they think a little less of him?  Do they wonder if he is really the man that they thought, whether he may one day betray them as he did to his fiancé?  Does his mother feel embarrassed by her son’s behaviour, after all as a parent she is his teacher?  Finally, what of the other woman?  Did she know?  Did she care?  What type of person must she be?

Love rats come in all shapes and sizes.  This one did not steal money from her – although she gave up a lucrative career and packed up her life to move to Turkey – this one did something that I consider a lot worse.  He broke her.  Not just her heart – her.  A strong independent woman was kicked to the kerb for having a strong, independent mind.  She had the audacity to question his opinions or decisions and he shot her down before turning and saying, “I do not want you.  I do not want your daughter.”  He left their apartment and did not return until she had packed up her things and left.  Not left the city.  No he did not return until she left the country!

I have said to my friend on many occasions he is not worth it.  They are not worth it.  You learn and you move on.  She is happy now with a wonderful job.  Her daughter took some time to re-adjust but is also happy thriving back with her extended family.  And as for the TLR – here’s hoping someone treats him with the same disrespect that he treated my friend!

Sadly I have some other examples and perhaps in the future (and with those friend’s blessings) I will tell their stories too.  With time comes healing.

Lots of Love

Yesterday morning I woke to the most fantastic news.  My amazing friend Mich and her partner P ran away together and got married.  Congratulations to my beautiful friend.  It was at this moment I realised just how far away I am from her.  I cannot give her a hug and a kiss.  I cannot raise my glass to her and her new husband.  I cannot blubber like a baby (I always blubber like a baby at weddings).  I miss her very much.


I have known Mich for well over a quarter of a century but this does not make me feel old.  This means that I have laughed with her, loved with her, fought with her, lived with her and travelled with her for over half of my life.  Today I miss her more than ever.

All of my friends are a long way from here.  They are all busy with their lives, family, job, commitments.  I know how lucky I am to have this experience but how I want to be in Sydney right now.  I write this blog, mostly for me but also for my friends and family who are so far away but are still with me in my heart.  It is difficult today being here.

To Mich and P, you were meant to be.  A lifetime of happiness together.

(And yes I am blubbering right now).

Expats Wanted – Apply Within

Being an expat is bloody hard.  You are uprooted from your place of birth (usually voluntarily), drop kicked into a country where possibly no one speaks your native tongue and you spend your first few days completely shell-shocked and shaking while trying to find a place to live, get a job and re-start your life from scratch.  I am sorry to tell you my friend there is something else that you need to do.  You also need to throw yourself into the deep end of social interaction. You find yourself scanning crowds, searching for anyone that may come from your homeland and if you find anyone (and I mean anyone) who has an accent similar to your own you pounce on that person with the hope that they will become your new best friend.

I think I had it pretty easy when I first got here.  I had family.  People who actually like me (well most of them anyway).  I wonder how I would have coped being in Mersin, in Turkey, without family to support me and I shudder at the thought.  I imagine I would probably be holed up in my room, rocking back and forth, mumbling “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oy, oy, oy” while eating the unpacked cardboard boxes at my feet.

Having my blog has helped me meet new people and I think it has been a pretty successful venture.  I often get emails from people via the blog or on Facebook who are expats in Mersin or thinking about moving to Mersin, hopeful of meeting some new people or wanting advice.  I try and get together with all of them too although they have not always been successful meets.


Today I was at the Forum which is a large shopping centre near Pozcu where I caught up with a few expats who I had met through my blog.  A coffee and a chat.  Commiserate at their dramas and laugh at their triumphs.  After coffee I left them to meet Daughter and her cousin at McDonalds.  Living in the Village there is no takeaway.  Wait.  I lie.  You can get a Tantuni delivered (which I love) for 3TL (about $1.50) but your standard burger and chips is just not available so when we go to The Forum Daughter always froths at the mouth in the hope for a greasy fix.  I watched her and her friend order their meal from my nearby table and then noticed Daughter talking to a lady in the queue behind her.  I always maintain a ‘no talk’ rule with Daughter regarding strangers and I was starting to get a little annoyed at her complete disregard to my rule but she was so animated with the conversation that I forgot to be annoyed and was more curious about what they were talking about.  Daughter’s meal arrived but she ignored it and continued to talk to the stranger.  When the stranger’s meal arrived she brought the lady over to our table.

“Mum.  This is Evelyn.  She lives here and I helped her order lunch.”

Evelyn smiled meekly, “Your daughter asked me to join you for lunch.”

Daughter took Evelyn’s tray and set it down beside me, “There you go Mum.  Another one for your little group.”

I had to laugh at the look on Daughter’s face.  She was ecstatic with the thought that she had played matchmaker and that Mum had a potential new friend.  I know she worries about Mum being lonely when she is at school or at a friend’s house.  So Evelyn sat down and we had a long yarn about her move to Mersin from Scotland.  She is in love and hopes to be married before too long.  Hmmm – boy have I heard a few stories recently about this subject.  I say nothing and merely nod enthusiastically when she suggests that The Turk and I come along to her wedding in April (with Daughter as bridesmaid of course).

So there you go.  Another little friend for my expat group.  If there are any more of you out their get in touch – the more the merrier!

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).


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.

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!


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”.



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.

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. 


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.


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. 


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. 


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.


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.