(An American of Turkish heritage in Turkey)
By: Peri Unver
*These observations are not generalizations but merely my own personal ones that I have made this summer.
1. You take your life into your hands whenever you’re in a car as drivers think the middle of the
road is the way to go. Also, it’s not a complete day until you’ve been honked at least forty times.
2. You are greeted first by a hello, how are you, kiss on both cheeks, and a comment on how much
weight you’ve gained.
3. You can fist-pump to the break-up songs. At first, it’s hard to tell that the song is telling someone off and it’s unsettling to then hear “Shake your booty on the floor now” (inevitably in the remix).
4. People on the street are gladly willing to help direct you someplace or help you get out of a
sticky parking situation. However, smiling (especially in the grocery store) is seen as a sign of weakness.
5. The food is mouth-watering good everywhere and hole-in-the-wall, home-food places are best
(as in New York). Places to eat are so clean that even in the food court in the mall there are fresh, open salad bars and buffets.
6. The color of the ocean simply cannot be replicated and it is easy to see why the name is
turquoise, or “Turkish blue.” It is easy to scoff (especially when you’re from California) at those with surf boards asthere are no waves in Turkey.
7. The understanding of making a line at a bank or another established location is a circle.
8. The price of everything, from clothing to food, is negotiable.
9. It is a prerequisite that you must be able to sing and dance in order to become a Turkish
citizen. You must also know the lyrics to Turkish songs as questions about that are always asked on game shows.
10. In almost anyTurkish home you enter someone will be able to read your fortune from Turkish
coffee grinds (“fal”).
11. The concept of personal space is a foreign one in Turkey. Wherever you are, someone might be virtually sitting in your lap and not even notice it.
12. When you are going to watch a show at night settle in because you’ll be there for the long
haul, at least three to four hours. When asked if the show is still on the answer will always be yes. (It’s no wonder when on the Turkish version of Wheel of Fortune one of the slots is “tell a secret” and song and dance breaks are taken frequently.) Also, during commercial breaks, you can indeed make a sandwich, take a shower, visit a neighbor, and still be in time for the next portion of the show.
13. The relatively new law (2005) requiring accessibility for people with disabilities unfortunately falls short, as I personally witnessed this summer as I used a wheelchair. Almost everywhere is not
accessible and the ramps are of varying widths and scarily, angles. (Places from the movie theater and even an orthopedist’s office have a hill of steps and no lifts, ramps, or even handrails.)
Even with all of its quirks, it is a beautiful country to visit with much history, nice people, and amazing food. So hos geldiniz (welcome) to Turkiye!