Saturday, July 5, 2008

Things I really like about living here, and some I really don't like...

Istanbul (and Turkey) is a place of extremes, and I'm not just talking about the weather, although that can be pretty extreme too!
Sometimes I encounter something that I really don't like and I have to stop and think of all the things I do like to remember why I am still here! I generally decide that the +s outweigh the -s... Here are a few of each:

I love....
The early morning; anywhere in the city (or out of it). Everything seems fresher, cooler, there is hardly anyone around. There is a certain (good) smell of early morning in all big cities... You can walk without banging into people, there's no traffic on the roads...
Shopping; You can get just about anything, at just about any time of day. None of this shops close at 17.30 kind of thing. There are a lot of malls, I have to confess that I like a good mall. There used to be a lot of good markets too but many (including my favourite Ulus Pazarı) have been closed down by the mean old city council unfortunately :(
Breakfast; I like breakfast pretty much anywhere, but Turkish breakfast is gooood, some things an aquired taste. Only really get the full breakfast on the weekend or when on holiday, but it should have these things: wrinkly but juicy black olives in olive oil with oregano and chilli pepper, fresh sourdough-like bread and simit (sesame-covered bread ring), honey and kaymak (the cream from the top of the yoghurt (mmmmm), CHEESE- white cheese, yellow chees, Tulum cheese, halloumi cheese, stringy cheese..., cucumber and tomato slices, homemade jam (cherry) and many many glasses of black tea. And then after you have eaten all that, an orta-şekerli (medium sweet) Turkish coffee...
Gezmek; If you ask Turkish people what they like doing in their spare time the chances are they will include 'gezmek' (along with 'read a book' ha ha :)); if you look in the dictionary, I think it translates as travelling, but that's not really what they mean. What they mean is they like to wander around with friends, look in the shops, drink some tea, eat some cake, wander some more, people-watch, drink some more tea.... you get the idea. So kind of walking/ shopping/ socializing/ eating/ drinking all rolled into one word!
A good soap opera; and they certainly have a lot of them! Over the last 2 or 3 years especially there seems to have been an explosion on the Turkish soap opera front. Some really are rubbish, but if you find a good one, of which there are plenty, then they are highly addictive and great for practicing Turkish. My favourites have just gone on summer hiatus and we won't be seeing them again till September.... I will write about them in a later blog.
Summer in the south; aaah Kaş, Bodrum, Fethiye, Antalya, Kemer, Ayvalık, Çeşme, Samos (actually Greek but hey). Oh that I could not work at all and just flit from one summer house to the next...!
Ordering in; You can order just about anything you want to your house by phone. I don't just mean pizza... Almost any kind of food, including just a loaf of bread or a watermelon if that's what you're after. Also, water, newspaper, simits, gas, a taxi. Now if I could just get the Kahve Dünyası on the corner to deliver...

....and the less desirables...
Taxi drivers; yes they are locals, and yes they may have been driving for the last 20, 30, 40 years, but inconceivable to them as it is, SOMETIMES the yabancı (foreign) girl in the back DOES know where she is going and which is the better way to go. Yes, really. I have a lot to say about taxi drivers so I may save it for a later date...
Shop Assistants; in all but very few places they feel they have to follow you around, very closely, the whole time you are in the shop as if you are about to steal something. I know they probably think they are being helpful, but it is nothing but annoying. Sometimes I just walk round and round the same stand till they get dizzy and give up. Interestingly if you actually DO want any assistance, they are suddenly nowhere to be seen. They also have an annoying habit of looking on the rack/ shelf for something you've asked for (when you have asked for it because it wasn't on the rack/shelf and you want them to actually go look in the storeroom)...
Waiters; Actually in general they are ok, and they love kids, which is a good thing. BUT, when you go and sit down in a cafe or restaurant and they come and ask you what you would like and you have to say A MENU please, that is just kind of time-wasty...
Uneven footpaths; Actually this is something I have only recently noticed. But there are LOT of them, and it makes pushing a baby stroller into a cross-training activity...

That's all for now...

3 comments:

Rebecca said...

I'll add a couple:

On the plus side, the bridges, from any angle but especially from a boat or a cafe on the water's edge.

On the grrrr side, grocery cashiers who pile the next customers items on top of yours because they're too rushed to help you bag them.

Welcome to the world of blogs - I hope to keep reading your insights xo Rebecca

nilly said...

Ha ha, I loved how you wrote all those good and bad facts about Istanbul which are very true.

I guess some of those things don't bother you if you don't know the other way. Since I've been living in US, I understand you better.

Yaramaz said...

Sauceless pizza! Cucumber chunks ın Chinese stirfry! Sidewalks blocked by a brick wall of interlinked ladies in raincoats and scarves! No YouTube! Wild dogs camped out on the Medical Centre lawn! Gaping holes, unmarked, randomly placed on roads and sidewalks!

A marvellous place to live!