Have a dose of what life is really like living here – from my slaughter the Turkish language, random arguments with random relatives about everything from apples to vaginas and learning the secrets to making the perfect kebab! Highs or lows this is my observations from the melting pot of crazy that is my life in Mersin.
I can probably count the number of close friends I have had in my life on two hands. These are the friends that I know will be there for me through thick and thin. They are the ones with a box of tissues or a bottle of wine and they are the ones that remind me that I can have a dream and turn it into a reality and they will be right beside me to cheer me on. These friends, these soul mates, these are the people that I miss more than anything living here in Turkey.
Sure I have The Turk’s family. They have welcomed me with open arms but they are not my girlfriends, the ones you tell your deepest secrets to (although I think we can all agree my life is a pretty open book – or blog). Plus that whole pesky issue of not speaking the language makes it tough to form close bonds.
With The Turk away I have become increasingly lonely and with the Daughter at school during the day I find myself mind numbly bored. I have come to the realisation that I must actually like him (at least a little bit). His health scare certainly scared the shit out of me and now I am just waiting for him to get the all-clear from his doctor before he can come home.
I am told that an overwhelming sense of emptiness and loneliness is normal for an expat and the waves of loneliness comes and goes leaving you either gutted or living on a high. Being so far away from home the onset of depression can occur suddenly, the tiniest thing will set me off and when that happens the most I can hope for is to be left alone in my blackness until clarity re-sets. I think if I lived in a more expat friendly city I would thrive but living here in Mersin it can be an incredibly hard slog.
It is my own fault you know. Having this blog has opened up a huge window of contacts but I squandered the opportunities that I had and did not go out of my way to cultivate friendships and relationships with people. I was always too busy and I know how difficult it can be to form friendships. It can be a hard slog but do you know what else I have realised? I realised that if I don’t make the effort then nothing in my life will change. Deep I know.
So this is what I did. I got off my ass. I made contact with people. Plans were made. Dates were set and I can happily say that I now have a great little group of friends to play with. I have learned that I am not the only one that suffers from the blues living so far away from home. We are all missing our family and our friends. A support system needs to be in place for us expats. We need to be each other’s family and to step in and be that shoulder to lean on when needed. Coffee in Carsi? Sure. BBQ in Yenikoy? Definitely. Drinks in Viransehir? Of course! Also I need to be friends with someone who can get me ham and yes there is such a person here in Mersin – hello Danny Boy!
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My mother in law had two sisters, both older than her and sadly the eldest sister passed away last Saturday afternoon. It was expected in this case as she had been floundering for some time. On each visit I could see she was becoming weaker and it seems that she had not been eating at all. She was surrounded by her family and I imagine now she is with her sister watching over everyone while drinking cay and gossiping.
Again because I did not know her name (and I am quite embarrassed to say this) I called her Auntie Muriel. In fact I call both sisters Auntie Muriel because they looked so similar. Now both Daughter and The Turk call them Auntie Muriel too which is a little sad but I think as long as they are in their thoughts that is all that should matter isn’t it? Perhaps not.
This time around I was prepared for the grief that was to follow. It was still overwhelming but perhaps I was slightly removed or hardened to the reactions that followed.
I also paid more attention to the ritual of prayer which is fascinating. I had The Turk translate a lot of what happened so forgive me if this is not spot on and other pieces I had to Google for correction.
When someone passes away in the Village they are returned to their home where the grieving family arrive to help bath and prepare the body for the afterlife. Auntie Muriel was covered in a white cotton sheet called a kafan and everyone had an opportunity to say their goodbyes. The Imam arrived and started the prayer Allahu Akbar (Allah is greatest). He then proceeded to recite verses from the Koran. I started to get lost at this point as it is all in Arabic. The Turk (who is certainly not a religious scholar) said that the Imam did the Thana and Fatiha verses followed by part of the Tashahud verse. He offered his D’ua which is a supplication followed by the fourth tekbir before it was concluded with a peace greeting.*
As expected Auntie Muriel was then taken by the men of the family to the cemetery for burial while the women waited back at the house. On Sunday morning we travelled to the cemetery for another service by the Imam.
Like the call to prayer that drifts over the village 5 times a day the ceremony itself is very peaceful and beautiful to bare witness to. Of course I do not have a great understanding of the religious aspect however it does not mean that did not appreciate the sentiment during the ceremony. Auntie Muriel was a sweet little lady and like my mother in law she was definitely loved and respected as again there were hundreds who attended both at the house and at the cemetery for service. Sadly I do not have a photo of Auntie Muriel on my computer but I do have a few in an old album somewhere. I will definitely have to have a look for one so I will put up another of my favourite photos of my mother in law. This photo was taken on New Years Eve – just a day before she passed away.
I sat with the final Auntie Muriel yesterday and held her hand for some time. She talks constantly to me and although I probably know 1 in 10 words I always smile and kiss her hand when I sit by her. In all my years of visiting her I have yet to hear her raise her voice. She knew how much my mother in law loved me and for this reason she is so kind, knowing that I have pretty much no clue what is going on, but she always ensures that I sit next to her as pride of place.
She is the only sister left now.
*This information was provided by my memory along with The Turk’s knowledge. Anything posted today is posted with the utmost respect to Islam and its ceremonies. I appreciate your opinion and advice however I ask that you respect me if you feel the need to leave a post.
Seriously. I was sitting at my desk this morning writing an email and I swear I could smell bacon. Thinking about bacon right now is making me drool. Literally drool. God I miss bacon.
Bacon is without doubt the best food on earth. There are not many foods that can evoke this type of enthusiasm from me this early in the morning but bacon definitely takes this prize. So versatile that it can be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can be eaten on its own or adding it to anything else will only enhance the original dishes flavour. Salad? Yep throw in some bacon. Roasts? Spread bacon across that bad boy sizzling away. Sandwiches? Burgers? Omelettes? What can’t bacon improve? God I miss bacon.
I don’t miss pork. Never a big fan. I do love crackling though. God I miss bacon.
Ham. I miss ham. I miss The Turk’s pizza. His pizza was seriously the best pizza in Sydney. I miss ham and God I miss bacon.
I thought I had tracked down some ham at Migros a couple of days back. They were selling Jambon which means ham in English. Nearly wet myself. After examining the packet I still thought it was ham. I got it home. I was wrong. It was beef ham? WTF?? God I miss ham and God I miss bacon.
There is a piggery in Antalya I could go to. Antalya is, I think, a 6 hour drive from here (but 30 minutes on a plane). Would that seem excessive? To jump on a plane to purchase bacon? Would I bring it back as hand luggage? Would they even let me bring it on the plane? God I miss bacon.
I hate bacon jokes. I hate bacon meme’s. They are cruel. They are everywhere. Every time I open any social media a joke or a photo of bacon appears. It is akin to torture for a person in my peril. God I miss bacon.
The Turk tells me I am being overly dramatic. Yes, yes I am. God I miss bacon.