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.
Those of you who are long time readers of my little blog may recall my post about Carl Frederiksen. He was one of the old gentlemen that I would often meet in the village. He was a kind old fella who unfortunately could not speak but he was always smiling and always so generous.
I hadn’t seen Carl for a little while, in fact I wondered if he had moved away.
This morning while yelling at Daughter to “hurry the hell up or you’ll be late for school” I saw an ambulance drive past. Now I’m not proud but I rolled my eyes – another funeral. Five minutes later the mosque made the announcement – it was Carl.
Tears filled my eyes. He was near to 90 years old – so he had had a good wicket – but he was one of the most genuine people I had ever met. I wondered what would happen to him as he had no family but when The Turk and I arrived at his home I was so happy to see that there were hundreds of people there to see him off. His neighbours washed his body and shrouded him while the village men carried flowers and followed in procession to the mezarlık (cemetery) for him to be buried. Early tomorrow I will make the trip with the ladies to the mezarlık for the prayer.
I was so proud to be a part of this village today. Whether you are young or old, with a family or very much alone, no one is left behind.
I don’t eat an awful lot of meat here in Turkiye. It just doesn’t have the same taste and consistency and, frankly, my hips are thankful that I give meat a miss more often than not but the one thing I cannot avoid here in the village is my neighbours preparing a Feast of Thanks to Allah.
I always know when a neighbour is preparing a feast. The huge pots are delivered early in the day to enable a thorough cleaning prior to cooking. Then sheep, goats and even cows are delivered for inspection before a choice is made. It is usually at that time I disappear and don’t come back out until morning although yesterday I walked straight past a sacrifice just as it started – devastation. I understand why an animal is sacrificed. I understand why it is important to the worshipper but I find the whole practice of an animal being put to death cruel and I choose to not take part in the preparation. Before you cry “but you still eat meat” yes I do. I am a hypocrite – I get it.
The Turk’s family prepared a feast recently in memory of his mother’s passing. This is called Yas Bayram (mourning bayram). I know that two sheep lost their life in our driveway and I know that everyone in my family stayed up the whole night to prepare a meal of meat, rice (cous cous) and chickpeas that are then given to neighbours and the less fortunate in Refika’s memory. I did not eat the meal that was prepared by the family and I apparently offended my sister in law in the process. I do not regret this decision. I miss The Turk’s mum a lot, she has a wonderful woman and think her fondly each and every day. I do not need to take the life of an animal to remember her.
The Turk argues with me that I ate a butt load of meat back in Australia (which is why my butt is now a wide load) but more importantly I need to immerse myself in all aspects of the Turkish culture and take part in these village rituals. I took part – I helped pay for the feast. That is more than enough for me.
Growing up in the Sydney suburbs I was not privy to the inner workings of a farm or an abattoir. Yes I am part of the meat and two veg lifestyle but the meat that I ate was purchased in packages and its blood isn’t staining my driveway. An animal still died to feed me but not by my hand or by my husband’s hand or a neighbour and certainly not where I can see it die. I guess you can ignore a lot when it is not in your face.
Daughter has often gone fought with her conscience about eating meat but here in Turkiye she pretty much has become a vegetarian. She will not eat chicken (as she hears them clucking on every corner). She will not eat cows or sheep (as they are often in the garden across the street although she will eat a hamburger – go figure) and she will never eat fish (more about the taste than anything else). She is happy with her decision and I am quite proud of her for standing by her quasi morals (other than the hamburger that is).
I still love a steak and the next time I find myself at the Newport Arms Hotel (best pub lunch in Sydney) I will order the steak with pepper sauce and salad *drool* but here in Turkiye I will continue to maybe pass on the meat depending on each situation but what I wouldn’t do for a pub lunch. Mmmmm.