yesterday was a typical turkish day for me.
sent nico to school in the morning and was welcomed rather pompously by the kindergarden's director - behind him i could see a new kid; his mother next to him was dressed expensively - (the child even more so)... she sported a worried, hopeful look. the director introduced me in turkish and explained we were foreigners and then he dangerously addeded hyperbolic details on the fact nico was "trilingual" (untrue). the lady was scanning me with a soft smile and curious eyes, in the way you look at an exotic bird that can dance tip-tap while juggling eight basketballs.
that's turkish marketing for you!
headed for my morning class straight after that and met the class with the lad sporting the glass eye. topic for the day was "popular culture and traditions" and that proved to work out ok. as we were talking about family being the centre of turkish life and society, few of them mentioned how they did not want their brothers or sisters to get married "because of jealousy". as i was saying to me it seemed an odd and bizarre concept one girl replied "because turkish people when they love - they really REALLY love...and so they are jealous". one boy bluntly added "if my sister marries she is not MINE anymore. i want her to be MINE. like now" -
i was about to tell them i personally see jealousy as a hideous form of selfishness, pettiness and sad insecurity - but the boy with the glass eye (obviously a reactionary) kind of shot out of the blue "you know what? i hate china. they... killed the international economy". which somehow seemed fitting.
on the way back met two american friends over a cold drink. they were slacking by the main pedestrian area in a crowded pub - one of them had just got back from the greek island of chios. "will you be around till october, then?" i asked them and they said they might even prolong their turkish stint. "we might even stay longer", one of them explained. then, looking into his beer he said softly "if i go back to the states... now...what exactly is there for me? had a job in finance before...might go back to something similar...will buy a house, get married, have kids..." (he kind of left the sentence pending while the other guy nodded vigorously while not too subtly mimicking a gun pointed to his throat) then he concluded "yeah, how boring is that? will i ever travel after that...? like...real travel? like real life?...errrr... i don't think so" his voice sounded flamboyant and brash - but i kind of found it funny. mainly beacuse they seemed oblivious to the fact i did fit the exact same "zombie" bill they had just pictured!
went back home straight after that - cutting throught the dry heat slightly shaken by some clean wind. fought for an hour or so with the plants i am trying to grow on our balcony and discovered to my despair that three (3!) lavender pots were very dry and very dead... this will bring immense relief to our housekeeper - who makes no mystery of her total dislike of any form of flower / green-thing-with-leaves-you-are-supposed-to-water-and-treat-with-care... mostly because she does not see the "point" of any of it.
later in the day -
spent three entertaining hours with my evening class - they are a lovely, upbeat bunch of older students and we very often laugh our heads off. one of them is writing a book and yesterday proudly announced "i am at page 128. the book will be over around page 400".
as i was leaving the school building i bumped into one of my husband's colleagues. he was having dinner with his (extended) family in one of the restaurants of the neighbourhood. they were sitting around a long table and i was introduced to every single person there, namely: his wife, his wife's sister and her husband, his wife's mother and father, his wife's aunt, his wife's cousin number one, his wife's cousin number two + her husband + their newborn son + two or three (additional) unidentified relatives. his mother-in-law was eager to state immediately that she was french and could speak italian - she then switched immediately to italian, however maintaining to call me "madame". i said bye after answering an endless quantity of questions on where we lived / what we did / where i was working etc ... - i left thinking it was THE typical night out for a married turkish couple with kids: family and family and...that's it. i also tried to think of myself back home having the same type of "fun" (surrounded by relatives and in-laws) and i kind of pondered "i would rather shoot myself!"...which oddly brought my mind back to my american friend and his ruthless take on "smug marrieds with kids" as bridget jones would aptly put it!
it was a beautiful night out and crowds of people were eating, strolling and sitting around by the sea and i went for my late evening run. there was a fantastic, cool, quiet wind and i felt like singing and jumping aorund... there were beautiful lights peppering the other side of the gulf and the last ferry boats for the day were slowly leaving their decks.
all around you could see young people sitting in circles, beggars sleeping on the grass, gipsy women stopping couples to read their hands along the usual line of cafes and restaurants swarming with people...
on the way home i jogged past a family with three kids. they were dressed poorly and the younger child walked awkardly, his legs crippled with poliomyelitis. sometimes turkey hits me by surprise and reminds me suddenly of things that back home existed perhaps only 50 if not 60 years ago.
finished off the day by watching "genova" by director michael winterbottom. it tells the story of an english academic (colin flirth) who decides to relocate from chicago to genoa, italy with his two young daughters after the sudden death of his wife in a car crash. found the movie heartbreaking with its disarming simplicity and mesmerising portrayt of the two girls. colin flirth, living through the grief and difficulties of his new life as a single father with dignified yet intense poise is simply amazing. there is nothing banal or plain about this film and i also loved the fact it is set in an "unusual" italian location - very far from the too often cliched "romantic" tuscan / roman / venetian settings the english and american writers and film makers are so partial to. perhaps too easily so.