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LPT Symbol Real True Lies about Turkey

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

Young Love

I first visited Turkey when I was sixteen, and didn't speak a lick of Turkish. As a young foreign girl, I was not wanting for attention from men who seemed always to be saying to me, "Evli misin?" (Are you married?) Having not had much experience with men in the States, I grew increasingly uncomfortable in this situation, and eventually learned to say, "Evet, evliyim." (Yes, I'm married.) That seemed to deter some prospective suitors, but to others, it was merely the natural platform for the question, "Cocuklarin var mi?" (Do you have any children?)

One day I was taking pictures on the boardwalk in Izmir. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a curious boy looking my way. Fed up with the attention, I continued to furiously take pictures of the water, hoping that he would go away (I wound up with a roll full of pictures of the bay). When I realized that the boy was persistent, I stopped and turned to face my fate. The boy was attractive, and I admit to feeling excited to meet him. He approached me and offered a greeting that I didn't understand at the time. All I remember was him saying, "Kahve. Kahve?" (Coffee? Coffee?) I shook my head no, but he continued to talk to me. And I stayed to listen. What followed was a series of fumbling attempts at communication. When we wanted to tell each other how old we were, we had to hold up fingers. The boy was two tens and a two, and was either in a professional marching band, or he was trying to tell me that he was a soldier. I admit that I liked this boy very much, and he eventually charmed me into going for a 'kahve'.

Along the way we stopped at a bookstore. The boy (whose name I later discovered was Fahri) went charging up and down the aisles grabbing all the Turkish-English books he could find. When we went to the counter to buy the books, the salesman began speaking to me in English. He told me that Fahri was a nice Turkish boy, and that, if he wanted to kiss me and hug me, I should let him. I was a bit surprised by the advice, but I shook my head 'thank you' as Fahri grabbed my arm and pulled me excitedly toward our next destination.

At the 'kahve house' (which turned out to be a pizza joint) we flipped through the books and pointed out words in order to communicate. After awhile, Fahri pointed to "evlenmek" in the dictionary. I recognized the root, but hadn't the slightest clue what 'mek'... Whoa! 'Mek' was an English equivalent for 'to' (as in 'to marry'). Did he mean to propose to me? After much deliberation, it was decided that Fahri was asking me to marry me, I think, to which I had to try to explain that this wasn't the way it was done in the States. I think. I've never been quite sure whether this was the tract of communication. Maybe he was just trying to tell me that he was really, really excited about the quality of his pizza. Heh heh heh.

Fahri and I spent a few lovely days together, going to movies I couldn't understand, and bars I couldn't believe I was allowed to enter. I developed a sort of romantic-week-together-in-a-foreign-place crush on him. On our last night together, Fahri pulled me into a large, stone doorway in a side alleyway and kissed me (okay, so maybe it was a little more passionate than that... but I'll keep this story in line with Western mores). While we were kissing (this gets corny, but I swear it's all true) it began to storm, and flashes of lightning punctuated our *kissing*. It began to rain harshly, but we were protected from it by the archway. A person or two ran past in the alleyway, but they seemed not to notice us. The whole experience was surreal, and as it was my first... er... um... *kiss*... it was a gesture that permanently imprinted itself on my sixteen year old heart.

The next morning I was to leave Izmir and return to Istanbul. Fahri and I said our goodbyes. As momentos, he gave me his watch, and I gave him a ring I had purchased in the market. We exchanged phone numbers and addresses, and promised to keep in touch.

About a month after I returned to the States, I received a phone call from Fahri. I recogized his voice immediately, and his distinct inability to pronounce my name. He put one of his friends on the phone who spoke masterful English, and we chatted until their five minute calling card ran out. They called a second time, and before the card ran out this time, I promised to write and call whenever I could. Returning home from school that evening, however, I realized that I had lost Fahri's address and phone number.

I've tried repeatedly over the past three years to call Turkish information in Izmir for Fahri, but to no avail. I even learned Turkish in the meantime, but still can't seem to get those operators to help me out. It's been three years since I spoke with Fahri, but I still think about my Turkish flame.

Fahri, Fahri! Neredesiniz, Fahri?...

MM (September '99)

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Ayran a good race...

When I was doing a year tour in Sinop in Northern Turkey in 1961, I was asked to help out with a legal problem because I spoke Turkish that I had learned during my stay there.

I'm a believer that most of the problems between people can be cured by good communication. So as the chosen arbitrator in this situation I had only to communicate with each side and explain the other's viewpoint.

The problem stemmed from a military vehicle hitting a chicken. Not a big thing, but it is a big thing if indifference enters into the picture. Still, it didn't take too long to resolve, as I controlled both sides of the conversation -- and pretty soon there were smiles all around.

And a little party was declared for both sides to drink to their newly agreed-upon truce. The "party" was not quite what we would conjure up in our minds eye as Westerners. It consisted of drinking a very advanced state of "culture" in yogurt form. A little saying goes with it.

Bu gŁn bayram (Today is a holiday)
Bir kasIk ayran (A spoonful of sour yogurt)
Sanada yeter (Suffices for you)
Banada yeter (Sufficies for me)

I did not enjoy it, but being the consummate diplomat, I acted like I did -- and they gave me more!!! Turks are very giving, excellent hosts, and great friends. And these kind people provided just one more episode that bonded my Turkish experiences in my memory forever.

We can sympathize with this personal experience because
after we first tried ayran, we also thought it would be our last time.
But it's an acquired taste -- and now we go crazy for it.
Ah mean we really love it!

TK (September '99)

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