a major sensation at work was created by a new student, a guy called E., who allegedly won a beauty pageant a couple of years ago, shooting to fame. this stirred up a storm of excitement among the teaching staff (all women) - and as i joined in for a drink over the weekend i seemed to be the only simpleton who was oblivious to E.'s history of glam and hunkiness.
"you must be joking" they screamed at me in despair "you have actually NOT noticed him...??" they just overplayed their disbelief - "no way! he is sooo HOT". i made things worse by adding "well...i just noticed he is polite...and shy..."
"AND HOT!" they all chorused at the top of their lungs.
"plus - he never said to me anything about any freaking beauty pageant - he actually said he was unemployed...and i guess he is married too" i added, only digging myself into a much deeper hole. "no way!" one of them was adamant to explain "he knows all the celebs on tv!".
three days later i walked into mr. beauty-pageant king's class and kept on picturing him wearing a tiara and some flashy, gordy sash screaming diagonally across his fuzzy torso MISTER TURKISH BATH or something like that. although that peculiar image would not leave me - i kept on hearing a voice inside my head going off in a mantra "not hot - very plain - not hot - very plain - very very plain..."
i guess the only major surprise about him is the fact he is the very first king of a beauty pageant i know that (being turkish) is very definitely not gay.
i love shopping for groceries in turkish supermarkets. there is something upbeat and loud about the labels they choose for anything - from cheese to cereals. plus - i will never get over the fact that a major brand of toothpaste here carries the name of a sexually transmitted disease: CANDIDA. how cool is that??
tried to waddle my way through a class on equal opportunities and naively explained that in europe and america it is very common for new fathers to help with their newly welcomed offspring(s) by feeding them, changing them and even taking time off from work to look after them. i had to stop when i noticed everyone pulling their necks very hard to listen carefully - it felt like being circled by giraffes stretching for higher leaves to munch. then they all asked me in a loud, loud voice "AND WHYYYYYYY DO THEY DO THAAAAAAAAAAAT???"
i very often think that the idea they are getting from me about the western ("civilised") society is that europe and america are far, FAAAAR worse than hell and totally twisted.
i love restaurant guides and publications with reviews about different eateries and cafes - so, i was ecstatic when i saw in the local daily that a IZMIR GOURMET GUIDE was on sale in bookstores - and with an english edition too! wow...sounded too good to be true! i made sure to check out what the hype was about and went to look for a copy. while living in singapore i used to enjoy buying the local restaurants guide and read with a passion lengthy descriptions about service quality, items on the menu, ambience, choice of location etc for the city different outlets. i could not wait to finally do something similar here too. so, after heading to the bookshop round the corner, i immediately grabbed an english copy. from the outside it looked like the most promising thing - glam and sleek. however, as soon as i opened it...i was let down to the point of breaking into laugther. inside it was just like the yellow pages! with 5 or 6 bistrots, cafes, "lokantas" per page and just the address and telephone number of the place + a rather ludicrous section headlined "specialties"...enlightening instances read along the lines of: restaurant so-and-so....specialty: eggs // cafe so and so....specialty: turkish coffee // bakery so-and-so...specialty: bread and biscuits.
grand! - i left the bookstore empty handed, but in a jolly amused mood.
tried to explain to my students about the very serious immigration issues europe has to strenuously battle every day. they looked at me in puzzlement. "WHY??" they could not get it. so i tried to tell them that "of course you do not get it...here you are not experiencing any of it. like...you are all turkish...you walk around and there are very few yabangi (foreigners)...you walk around the streets here and you see nobody from africa, asia or...i mean...you do not see different skin colours, different races - ..." i was starting to sound rather poetic (in a slight nazi fashion) when one of them smiling to me as if i knew nothing of the "facts of the real world" interrupted me:
"but no, we do have MANY foreigners - tourists LOVE VISITING turkey!"
the (famous) student with the eye glass wants a future as a politician. "you want to change things in your country??" i daftly asked.
"no" he very quietly answered "i just want people to acknowledge i exist and do things ok" - which sounded so sad and spontaneous...and bloody real... that i kind of broke a little bit inside and somehow suddenly related to him...like... 100%.