Next Stop Masterchef

Since returning from Oz I have found that whatever Turkish that I did have seems to have all but disappeared, even my “Ben kırmızı bir kadeh sarap alabilir miyim” seems to be coming out wrong (haters don’t hate.  That is self taught Turkish right there folks).  In an attempt to throw myself back into the deep end of the Turkish language I have been watching nothing but Turkish television in the hope that by engrossing myself in the shows will help me pick up some words or retrieve the words that I have lost.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It seems I’m never going to get a glass of red wine again am I?

broken wine glass 2

For the past week I have been watching the Olympics on TRT Sport.  I’ve seen the Aussies being annihilated in the swimming pool.  I’ve seen the Aussies crash and burn on the field.  Basically I’ve seen them feck up all over Rio.  Sorry?  You’re wondering how many Olympic medals I’ve won?  Fecking none OK!  I am a couch potato but I am couch potato in Turkish.

Anyway I’ve also watched the diving and the gymnastics and right now am engrossed in track.  Honestly that Usain Bolt is a fast feck isn’t he?  How’s this photo of him smiling at the camera as he ‘bolts’ to the finish line (see what I did there?).  And what about that poor Japanese pole vaulter whose Olympic dream was crushed by his peen.  Poor buggar. Never before has a member of the male species wished for a smaller manhood. Until now.  Turkey has won two silver so far in wrestling and weightlifting, and today Turkey’s women’s basketball are playing against Spain in the quarterfinals.

Usain bolt

But I haven’t really learned any Turkish so I turned it over to a Turkish cooking show.

Who doesn’t love the Turkish cooking shows?  They cook.  They chat.  They yell.  Dance.  Sing.  Masterchef is as boring as feck compared to a Turkish cooking show.  Today I made patetesli sigara börek and even though I already knew how to make them this time I made them in Turkish following a Turkish recipe!   Yah me!

potato pieI mean just look at these bad boys.  What did you say???  I can’t hear you over the deafening sound of my own awesomeness!

So if you need me I will again be in the kitchen attempting a Croquembouche.  I mean it’s obvious that I am an undiscovered culinary genius.  Seriously if I can chef it up in Turkish then nothing is impossible!


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Shiny New Expat

I met a straight off the plane, never taken out of the package, New Expat recently.  So new that she had that new car smell.  Her excitement was palpable but, unlike a case of the measles, it was not contagious and I found myself talking down the same things that I talked up when I first settled here in Mersin.

new expat

New Expat spoke of her love for her husband’s close knit family.  I found myself rolling my eyes and suggesting she should find an apartment as far away as she could get from her new extended family unless she wants them on her doorstep all day, every day.

As New Expat made cay (successfully I might add) she spoke of the more relaxed Turkish way of life.  I laughed and suggested she take a trip to the Emniyet and then let me know how she feels.

For lunch New Expat put out an impressive Turkish spread.  She explained that she had taken Turkish cooking lessons back in the UK so she could impress the in-laws.  I suggested that she might like to join a few of us for lunch at Marina in the coming weeks where we all go for our European food fix.  Her reply?  “I could eat that back at home.  I am here to eat Turkish food.”  Inwardly I groaned.  Every day.  Every day.  Every day.  Here Turkish food is just food.  Every day.

By the time I left New Expat’s shiny new home I felt like a Dementor sucking all the New Expat happiness out of her.  Will I ever see New Expat again?  Doubtful as she is probably still trying to erase my unintentional but still horrid behaviour from her memory.

Yes I have lost that glow of a new expat and what were at first little irritations are now an open sore that needs treatment – STAT!

And it is not just me that feels that stench of a jaded old expat (do we have a stench?).  One of the first people I met here when I arrived in Mersin was a school teacher from Northern Ireland who was working at one of the private schools here.  Her excitement about living in this city synced with mine and we threw ourselves into our new lives, a little scared, quite naïve but ready for a little madness.  Well that school teacher is counting down the days until the end of term.  She has had enough and is leaving Mersin to return home to Northern Ireland, happy to close the door on her time here.  Crazy Mersin has broken her.  Will she come back to Turkiye?  Yes.  Will she come back to Mersin.  Doubtful.

Yet other expats are long termers, going on 15 plus years.  Right now, today, I cannot fathom the idea of being here for another 15 years.  Please God not that long but as The Turk put it – where would you go?  Back to Australia the land of my peeps?  Yes, please, but of course I can no longer afford to live in Sydney and I certainly don’t want to return to 50 hour weeks so I would probably have to move elsewhere.  But where?  And I would be starting again.  House.  Job.  Friends.  I would be an expat in my own country.

So my question to you today is how do you keep that new car freshness living in a city that has more problems than solutions, where your opinion matters little other than perhaps an amusing anecdote to the locals?  Do you have any advice for this miserable expat? Let me know ‘cause I really need some wise words.


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Wankyu Gida … um?

Quick one folks.

I came across this sign today and … well … we all know my Turkish is abysmal but “Wank in food”?  Is that really what it is trying to say?  Makes you wonder what their special sauce might be.

Anyone care to translate?



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Education Turkey style

The Turkish education system is screwing with me.  Literally!

The village school just decided in all its wisdom to amalgamate the morning and afternoon classes.  This means that all of Year 6 has been allocated an afternoon session which means my entire life has been uprooted.


The past twelve months have been early morning starts.  I am used to the early morning starts and after 3 months of holidays I had to re-adjust to these early morning starts again.  Up at 6.00, breakfast, dressed and Daughter out the door in time for school to start at 6.50 in the morning.  I will just say that again yes 6.50 ante meridiem.  For me an early morning start meant washing done early, house tidied early, out to do the shopping or run errands – I even had time to blog – while Daughter was at school and, be home by 1 pm when she walks through the door.  I was totally motivated to get things done.  It also gave Daughter lots of time to hang out with friends after school, get her homework done and spent 2 hours a day with her tutor.

Now our carefully made routine has been thrown thoughtlessly out the window by an unthinking school board. I understand why this situation has come about.  In Turkey the Ataturk Reforms put in place that primary school education must be available for all in Turkey and that it is compulsory between the ages of 5-16.  Compulsory it may well be however if there are not enough schools these ridiculous plans are put into effect and, like Daughter, children found themselves either up at 5.45 or (as is the case now) does not get home until after 7 at night when it is pitch black outside thanks to the lack of street lights.

The village school is adequate.  I cannot say much more than that.  We opted to put Daughter in the village school to give her the opportunity to learn the language without the pressure that an özel okul (private school) puts on kids and to make friends with other children in the village.  The teachers worked very closely with Daughter to help her transition into a new learning environment and I cannot fault the assistance that the teachers have given us.  She is currently taught Turkish, maths, science, social studies and foreign language (English) although she spends half of the English lesson teaching English to the teacher!  She also does religious studies (definitely a bone of contention with her and a situation that brought us up to the school more than once).  Oh and did you know that Turkish primary students are not taught about any other country until high school?  I imagine that this is to teach them about national pride (Turkish are very proud countrymen) but to watch Daughter draw a map of the world as home work recently and she had to label “Türkiye” – Turkey, “Avrupa – Europe”, “Aysa” – Asia and “Amerika” – America.  Frankly the lack of detail made me feel a little ill.  I questioned where Australia was but apparently Avustralya didn’t even make it into the equation!   Umm Hello??  I made Daughter go back and draw Australia in and put a big ass arrow on it!  *sigh*

It is clear to me that once The Turk returns from his “holiday” (read that as luckily visiting Australia when he had his heart attack) we will be visiting the private schools to decide which school is best for Daughter and, as a bonus, the private schools have normal school hours albeit longer school hours although I haven’t made that public knowledge just yet.  Yes private school education is definitely on the cards now and, perhaps with the normal school hours (and longer hours) I can take back control of my now out of control life.

Right now the only good thing to come out of this ridiculous change in our routine is Daughter getting a decent breakfast and lunch prior to going to school.  It also means I don’t have to yell at her to get her ready for school.  Today she turned to me at 10 and said, “Well I guess I better start getting ready.”  Um – OK!

As easy as “bir, iki, üç”

With Daughter now back at the village school and with The Turk in the Land Down Under I find that some spare time on my hands.  What to do?  What to do?  I could lie in the sunshine and work on my tan?  Or I could go for lunch at the Marina or Forum with friends?  Nah.  I need to do something constructive with my free time and so I decided on having some private Turkish lessons with Daughter’s Turkish tutor.

Daughter’s tutor is a cousin of a cousin of a cousin or something and is absolutely a delight.  She was recommended to us by an English teacher from one of the private schools in Mersin but we seriously hit the payload when we realised that she was related and not just some random teacher.  Bonus!  Her enthusiasm to teach Daughter has made it a breeze for her to pick up the language and Daughter loves her because she is young, beautiful and funky.  She and Daughter bonded over their mutual love of Starbucks and shopping!  If only all teachers could be Ipek!

I admit that hang my head in shame knowing that I have been in the country for over a year and my Turkish is still ridiculously bad.  I had every intention of enrolling at Mersin University and taking Turkish classes (also a great way to meet other expats) but the idea of making my way on two buses at the crack of dawn 4 days a week did not inspire me to learn.  I had also assumed that immersing in the language would mean that I would pick up the skills in no time.  Yep.  Nope.  I just did not realise it was going to be quite so hard.


Ummm …

In just one lesson I have learned that half of what comes out of my mouth is complete gibberish and it explains why Daughter gets so darn embarrassed when I attempt to speak in public.  We end up coming to blows most of the time because she is embarrassed by me and I am annoyed at her attitude in return.  Last weekend we were on the dolmus and usually I leave it to Daughter to ask them to pull over but I thought I would have a go and ask the driver myself.  “Musait bir yer“.  I sounded great.  Well I thought I sounded great anyway.  Daughter said I sounded like I was speaking an Alien language and now, after my first lesson with Ipek, I realise I was speaking an Alien language.  I sounded like a dead set goose. Incidentally musait bir yer does not say “stop the bus” or “let me off” it translates literally to “suitable a place”.  Can you see why I am having difficulties.  Who talks like that (other than Yoda and Google translate).

I survived my first lesson by learning my alfabe (alphabet). “A, B, C’s” although I now know it is not “aye, bee, see” it is in fact “ah, be, je”.

Right, so back to kindergarten for me.

Why Are You Here?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Village Video

I found this video today on youtube while cruising the web.  Only a couple of minutes long and gives you an idea of the Village which, of course, is our new home.  The teacher at the end of the film is Daughter’s beautiful Turkish teacher Ipek.

And yes my neighbours do still make the bread like that and yes we still buy our domates from the vendor selling his wares from his horse and cart.

Let me know your thoughts.



Lost in Translation


Thanks to Cukurbagli’s 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!