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The Personal [oft-times embellished] Turkish Experiences -- of visitors to LPT

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Misunderstanding mama...whats new
Especially soothing syrup...whats new
Fouled-up Flirting...
Young Love
Person to person, hand to hand...
Politics spoken here...
For Language Lovers?
Stoned near Ankara
The Ladies Turkish Bath...
Driving in Turkey...
John can do...
To pay the bill...
Our "Private" Conversation...
Were you talking to me?
The Tell-Tale Thud
Cussin' in the Rain...
Ayran a good race
Just peachy ...
You're my beloved...
A dolt by any other name...whats new
Shish enough, and more...Ed. 5.0

Stoned near Ankarapushing stone

As part of my work as a geologist, I have traveled several times to Turkey to examine the rocks southeast of Ankara.

On one trip a few years ago, my Turkish colleague left me for several days to work on my own, with a local driver named Mehmet as a guide. Mehmet spoke no English and at that time my Turkish language skills were very primitive, but I thought I'd be able to direct him to the rock outcrops of interest by giving simple directions ('right', 'left', 'stop', etc.).

Mehmet had other plans for me, however. He decided that the rocks I wanted to see weren't beautiful enough and that I should instead look at the outcrops of marble (mermer) in the region.

(Marble is just about the least interesting rock type for the project I was working on, so, although it's a beautiful rock and I'd spent some time admiring the marble in the region already, I didn't want to spend any more time looking at it.)

In any case, I didn't have much say in the matter, as Mehmet kept taking me to marble outcrops.

I tried to explain to him that I didn't need to collect any marble, but with my limited Turkish, all I could say were things like "Please no marble" and "Marble not good".

This had the surprising and disturbing effect of greatly upsetting Mehmet. He yelled at me, shook his fist at me, and refused to drive me where I wanted. He took me to another marble outcrop.

I tried "Marble bad", but this made him even angrier. I flipped through my dictionary, trying other phrases, but nothing worked. Mehmet just yelled at me some more and drove me to another marble outcrop.

At the end of the largely wasted day, we drove back to the guest house, mostly in silence but with occasional muttering and random gesturing by Mehmet. Upon our return, Mehmet went and found someone who spoke both Turkish and English and immediately went into a long tirade to this person, pointing at me, and shaking his head.

Our translator started to laugh and asked me if I knew what Mehmet's full name was. I said no, I only knew his first name. Clearly this was the source of the problem.

Mehmet's last name was Mermer (Marble)! He had spent the whole day thinking I was insulting him -- telling him he was bad, not interesting, not a good person. It never occurred to him I was talking about the marble stone.....

And it never occurred to me that my guide's name was Marble.
I have since tried to improve my knowledge of Turkish for subsequent trips.

DW (January '98)

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The Tell-Tale Thudthe thief

My Turkish wife and I live year-round on the beach
along the Aegean Sea coast about 80 km south of Izmir
in the little resort town of Gümüldür.

Crime is almost non-existent in Summer when the tourists and summer residents swarm in and leave the local folks fat and happy.
But in the Winter, after all the citrus fruit is picked and packed, there isn't much honest work to be had.

And it's during those slow months that most of the burglaries occur.

The tourists and the summer residents are long gone then,
and their uninhabited vacation villas
(still filled with lightly guarded furniture, clothes, and electronics)
can be tempting targets for otherwise honest men --
who can't always afford to put a piece of meat, once a week, on the family­dinner table.

On a winter morning just the other day (January '98), I awoke unexpectedly early (at about 3:30 am) in our cozy little beach-front bungalow. I lay there sleepily for several comfortable minutes, dozing -- when I distinctly heard a low thudding sound. I thought it might be air in the water pipes and waited for the sound to stop.

It didn't, and I began to get suspicious.

Our bungalow has not been broken into in the 5 years we've lived here,
but several summer-resident homes nearby have indeed been robbed --
one home has been burgled twice in consecutive years!

I eased into my clothes and started downstairs to investigate. As I groped half­consciously down the steps, I could tell (with some relief) that the sound was coming from outside -- down the road a bit from our place, near an adjoining seaside 'summer-homes' development.

I made a quick decision to get our night-watchman and scare this would-be thief back to where he belonged!

Outside, the thudding sound was noticeably louder -- and I called out in my American­accented Turkish, "Merhaba. Kim o?" (Hello. Who's that?). The sound stopped on a dime.

But then, after about 30 seconds, it resumed -- and this time with a little rhythm to it! I thought to myself, "Why you cheeky devil…" -- and strode off purposefully to fetch the night-watchmen.

As I walked, I noticed that the sound was moving, somewhat in parallel to me -- although I couldn't see who was making it. But at least that meant it wasn't the sound of a house break-in, right?So what the hell was it?

I stopped and let my brain fully engage.
Where was I?
What time was it?
Three forty-five in the morning.
What month was it?
What was that rhythmic-thudding sound?
A primitive drum.

Do these facts add up to anything? Yep, they sure do.
This January, Turkish Muslims are right in the midst
of the
Ramazan religious celebration --
when the faithful get up early to have their last meal before fasting
for the rest of
the long day.
And the primitive drum? Why… it's nothing more than
the traditional Ramazan drummer boy (davulcu)
who accepts tips to act as a human alarm clock to wake faithful followers
for their very early morning meal!

When the realization hit me,
I turned like a sheep and slinked back home...

In defense of my temporary cultural amnesia,
this was the first time in five years
that a davulcu had made it all the way down to the seaside
in search of faithful followers during Ramazan.
And, besides…
it was "Burglar Season"
and I was only half-awake…

[Not good enough, huh?
oh, well…

JM (January '98)

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