Brit speaking funny Turkish

Trip Start Oct 03, 2002
Trip End Jun 30, 2003

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Sunday, February 16, 2003

Someone recently said that English people always talk about the weather in an effort to either start a conversation or fill in a silence...I will use it to start my latest update from the city, Istanbul is pretty cold right now and the snow thankfully closed the schools across Istanbul, so after two weeks on holiday this month we also have another holiday (tatil) I will affectionately call it snow holiday! And then Thank allah for the snow! In fact the turks often have snow holidays, they even call it this in Turkish " Kar tatili".

My parents came to visit me and stayed in my wonderful but far from the attractions apartment, so we did a bit too much travelling on buses, taxis, dolmuses (small minibuses) and Mum and Dad said they felt like students again, Dad had not been on a bus in 15 years or something! I met them eagerly from the airport, flight delayed because of bad weather, before meeting them I took a metro from the city centre of Istanbul managed to get a seat (so lucky to get one most of the time). Had previously met my Turk friend Sedef and told her about my parents coming and she kindly gave me a magazine on Istanbul that was unfortunately in Turkish. So took my seat on the metro with the oversized magazine on my lap. Typical looking turk sat next to me, typical being dark and unshaven messy beard. Asked to look at my magazine, I could not say no, as he did he asked me something about where I got it from (all in Turkish by the way) to which I said my usual phrase either when I decide I do not want to talk or I really did not understand, this time I did not understand "Sorry I am English, I don't understand" (in Turkish still!). So then I have not only attracted attention to myself from this man but also the silent other travellers on the metro. When he gives the magazine back to me, he clearly says in English "thank you". So now he starts a conversation with me, oh you are from England, do you know Coca-Cola. Well yes it's a soft drink, and then he says something like there is no Coca-Cola in Turkey and something about America, then something about a student in Cambridge University. So all this really made no sense to me, until I relayed this story to my parents at the airport. Turns out that a muslim branded Cola called "Mecca Cola" was launched to boycott America's Coca-Cola in a protest against the Iraq war. This is the sort of conversations I have because I am from Britain, I am even currently wearing a badge protesting against the war, it says "Irak'ta Savasa Hayir" - no to war in Iraq, but the amount of people who have said oh you are wearing that but you are from England, does not matter what country you are from to disagree with the politicians deciding on this right now!

Had such a busy time with my parents here, being the translator and tour guide for 10 days was tiring, we did all the tourist places and funnily when we went to the Grand Bazaar to but some traditional turkish gifts, the street sellers there thought in fact we were from Spain, so we answered Ola, my Dad answered Bonjour for fun, so the men there had no idea we were from England! Dad bartered well with the sellers, it is expected to do this, it is almost an insult if you do not. Ironic that the goods are cheaply priced already and then you barter for even less! One night we went to a fine place in the city centre called Cicek Pasaji, it means flower passage. It is a closed arched street of restaurants and as you enter the "garcons" yes the same word as in French, say please come, welcome to attract you to their restaurant, we had booked a table already. We paid 20 TL each for Turkish meze dishes, raki and wine. Dad was soon accustomed to the raki (it tastes just like Aniseed and is a whopping 45%), as a non-English speaking Turk showed how to drink the Turkish way, some raki is put with water into a tall slim glass, then drink, ok we English know this well! Then another glass of water can be sipped afterwards! Raki must be enjoyed whilst you eat the food. Let's say the night was long, as Dad and even Mum was happily drinking. Then the music came, Mum's face was a picture. She must have been thinking these people are mad, we were eating, drinking and now they were dancing and signing all the table. Musicians came to the table and played traditional music, My friend Deniz and the other turks danced a dance originates from Balkan region. It's a cross between hopping on the spot with alternate legs and the dance uses their arms in an action like scrubbing a scarf , then putting it on the line to dry and then ironing it. Yes this really is a dance!

Iraq'ta Savasa Hayir - No to war in Iraq. As part of the world protests against the war, one was held in Istanbul, the protest here turned violent unfortunately typical turks they started protesting about one of the political parties here instead of rallying for peace. People threw stones at shops that sort of thing and tear gas was used in the south of Turkey by police to break-up protestors. However apart from this, their is no hostility against me or my fellow American and British friends in Istanbul, so please don't worry for my safety.

I have had an interesting time in my flatmate's absence also the same time as my parents came to visit, as there was now no-one to order more water or the taxis! So this I did, Suzan had kindly written down some Turkish for me but it was still hard work! Had one interesting visitor to the flat, it was clearly the dustbin man wearing his overall with Istanbul Council written on it. I think he wanted money, not sure why and said I am waiting, only way I could explain was to say that I need to see a paper (I wanted to say receipt) if I were to give him money, eventually he got fed up and left not very happy! Of course quite a few people also called on the telephone, I answer "allo" and they start talking Turkish, again this is when I go into automatic mode of the same reply in Turkish of course, "Allo, pardon Inglizim. Cok cok almadim, evet ...suzan yok".......this meaning "Hello, sorry I'm British. Really really don't understand, yes...Suzan is not here"!!! My Turkish friends love that I say this on the phone in my sweet British accent speaking Turkish!
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