at three months of age, my little one was supposed to get her ppd test done today. ppd is what you do before receiving your TBC jabs, i learnt - and tbc vaccination is still a standard procedure over here. which - to be honest - did not come as much of a surprise.
we left turkey for a month or so and headed back home. since coming back i have had to deal with few mixed feelings... summer is coming to ease things, i am sure -- but since i just loved my time away...i guess one could well describe it as the melancholy that kind of lingers in the air after a lovely journey somewhere - a situation which implies your mood is dampened by nostalgic thoughts jumping about in the back of your head.
sure - it is a temporary thing. but -
i sort of realised that since we got back a couple of things made me rather uncomfortable, almost queasy at times.
1. we experienced an earthquake on 19th may. the epicentre was in kutahya - but people in istanbul, ankara and izmir felt it. we live on the top floor and i could see our building moving and swinging and as i am well aware of the patchy, disastrous ways they build houses over here...well, that was scary. i figure that, should a "serious" earthquake hit us - we would be dead in no time. i cannot help thinking that most blocks built in turkey are about as sturdy as mcvities biscuits. having said that, right after the quake...it was peculiarly amusing to log onto the internet and read real time updates posted on twitter. the best entertainment came from an american expat claiming he lived in a house "built, LIKE, 500 years ago".
2. local people are nosey. i have always known that for starters - but everyone seems more nosey after being away for a while. specifically, they seem to enjoy nagging me about my newborn baby. if they see her paraded around in a baby carrier they ask: "are you sure that is safe for her neck?" - if they see her cry they urge me to explain whether she is hungry, sick, upset by the heat - etc. but the worst comes when they actually do not see her "where is she? who is looking after her? how can you know you can trust the person looking after her?" i have started to resort to fantasy stories. she is at home having a cigarette, i say (but nobody laughs); she is at home with our cleaner, an unfeeling, bloodthirsty evil lady, i say (but nobody laughs); what baby? oh, god...i lost the baby!, i say (but nobody laughs); blast! i forgot her at the supermarket, i say (but nobody laughs). everyone stares on...and you can see their minds going "yabangi..." (foreigners!).
3. fighting dogs. why on earth are they so (sssssooooo) in fashion over here. there is no diplomatic way to say this: they scare the crap out of me. especially because of the buoyant faces of the owners strolling by and patting the creatures, often leaving them unleashed. some of them are the size of a horse - i am always petrified whenever i see them.
odd. and dangerous.
4. the way people drive. and the temper they have when they drive. they are nuts. when you cross the street you have the pay more attention when the light goes green than when the halt is on for pedestrians. this cannot be normal. it just cant. (but it is. veeeeery much so).
5. the growing frustration i sense among recent graduates among my students. and the growing feeling of frustration i notice especially in young women. it is perhaps kind of not very in tune with any feministic preaching - but i find it sad to realise once more (and in a country where traditionally females are considered "less" in many ways) that, gosh, ...frustrated ambitions are a common / human plague...but women have an innate talent for being plain...unhappy. maybe it is just me...but i seem o keep on bumping into young women out of university, either complaining about the job market not embracing them with open arms / or studying for a second degree, then for a master degree...only to feel even more inadequate / or not going to any actual (real) job interview because they (feel they) are "too qualified" and - somehow - ...cannot be bothered.
6. the ongoing electoral campaign whose ugliest head - to me - is the fact that there are buses rushing through town with incredibly loud music and slogans screamed in the air.
7. today. today. today. the ppd test. the "neighbourhood clinic" where i had to go (being the tbc vaccination a public health -- government, red tape -- matter). the fact that when i got there i had to wait - first because "doctors are having lunch", then because there was a queue; then because a man at reception made a mistake in writing my daughter's d.o.b.; then because a nurse was busy with her tea. the clinic was the saddest place ever. i had to feed my child and they parked me in a tiny storage room. there was a man sitting at a desk and playing solitaire online. he did not bat an eye. i could have been dying on the floor - he would have never noticed. then, as the "lunch break" dragged on...i waited by the entrance of the clinic where i could only sit by a bus stop. a beggar came to sit next to me and unzipped my bag. "nice baby you have there" he said, while doing that - staring at my daughter, whom i was balancing on my lap. as i stood up in a hurry to make a beeline for the main door...i confess i felt like crying. it was then that baby decided to...have the runs...
8. the fact that even though from now on i will forever think TBC stands for "to be continued" (i did eventually manage to close the ppd chapter). even though today felt like a visit to usama bin laden's crib for a chit chat... even though the first two questions i get from my new students are: is your husband turkish? and how old are you? ALWAYS...even though everyone here is opinionated in an over the top type of way. even though some days (like today. today. today.) make me wish i was living in a boring, predictable country lacking any personality but granting some degree of organisation and civic sense (enough with the drama queen-ism). even though i am fed up with people claiming "we are sensitive" when they actually mean they are thin skinned, prone to gossiping, childish, unable to sustain any form of professional detachment...
despite all this -
i still like it here and manage to smile.
i still listen to my students telling me things like "if i won the lottery i would buy myself a fantastic car. like...a ford fiesta" - and smile on. and listen on.
i still love the sea and its constant breeze and feel happy only by smelling it.
i still say hi and engage in small talk with everyone - especially enjoying the caveman ways of the illegal parkers.
i still secretly relish the notion that (in truth) our cleaning lady hates the few hours of babysitting she does and would rather spend her time smoking her muratti's on our balcony...
i must be crazy.
or partially turkish myself.