Time flies, my blog is becoming covered in proverbial dust and cobwebs as I once again become daunted by a back log of events to describe and we are now in our third year of living in Kayseri, Turkey. I feel like a seasoned expat veteran, fit to dispense sage advice about adapting to life in a conservative Turkish town and best places to find lahmacun – until I have to call a gas company to sort out our gas bill and then I`m back to feeling like a stuttering idiot yabanci (Turkish word for ‘foreigner’).
My Turkish did improve in the last year, especially the everyday transactional phrases like ‘Can I get a taxi’ and ‘Turn left here’ which no longer require advanced planning and dictionary consultations. I can also conduct small talk and exchange pleasantries, which Turkish is abundant with and some of which have no English equivalent, like Kolay Gelsin (loosely translated as ‘may it come easy’ and said to someone who’s working or as a form of greeting when entering a shop or a business), geçmiş olsun (may it pass, used when someone is ill or is in a difficult situation), elenize sağlık (health t your hands, used to thank somebody for the food they’ve cooked) and afiyet olsun (may it be good for you, similar to enjoy your meal, but can be said before, after and during a meal). I`m still nowhere near fluent however, when it comes to discussing serious matters or events. I remain optimistic since there are plenty of opportunities for practice – I`m pinning a lot of hope on our neighbors, who invite me over for coffee and don’t take no for an answer – if I don’t show up, they march into our garden and bring me to their house by hand.
Not that we have any neighbors right now. The house we are renting is technically a summer house (BAĞ in Turkish, pronounced bah), located in a small community of other summer houses up on a hill overlooking the city of Kayseri. Our Turkish neighbors move into their bağs when the school is out, around mid-June and stay there until about mid-October. The rest of the time they might come up at the weekend to check on things or do a bit of gardening, while in winter we live in a ghost town. The only people living here all year around aside from us our our friends Marie-Louise and Murat who helped us find this house in the first place. While I enjoy an occasional coffee with the neighbor living across form us or being bossed around by the elderly couple living behind us, we are loving the quiet and the solitude of the winter. We are a 20-minute drive away from the city centre and yet it is so quiet you can hear the snow falling and making a rustling noise against the dry leaves still clinging to the trees.
Speaking of snow, we’ve had quite a lot of that recently – that, and the fog. Never had I seen such thick fog and I lived in London! The fog made everything look like a set of a horror film.
And did I mention snow? There is considerably more snow up here in the mountains then there is in the city. Our mornings usually start with digging the car out from under a pile of snow. And snow was the reason why we were unable to make it to Macedonia for New Year as we planned! There was a record amount of snow in Istanbul and most flights were cancelled. However disappointed we were not to go to Macedonia and see Michael`s relatives, we still had a lovely New Year celebration with Marie-Louise and Murat and all the dogs!