B eing fascinated by this country called Turkey is like being in a toxic relationship that lasts for years and you never have the courage to end it.
It starts with a lightning hitting you straight in your heart, followed by butterflies in your stomach and an uncritical awe and then, when it notices that it’s getting too much of you, it starts irregular waves of pushing and pulling (that is: creating a distance).
The very residence permit application is a true durability test, same as moving in together with your life partner from Turkey. You suddenly learn things that you don’t necessarily like but if you’ve said A…you must also say B…
After a period of storms and pressure, here comes the stage of honeymoon which can last for years or end just after a couple of weeks.
And then all over again.
Every time you’re so close to packing your stuff to leave, the other party (meaning: Turkey) plays some game with you and you just cannot go. It suddenly occurs that it’s simply gorgeous here and if you just turn a blind eye on some things, you can be divinely happy. Because there are no ideals, right?
In the meantime, you have a quick affair or a sentimental rendezvous with your first, old love (that is: your home country) and it seems it is the perfect one but then a longer stay together results in more trouble and makes you realise that it’s far from perfect.
Finally, you come back into the loving arms of your toxic love and you live happily (I wish) ever after (I wish even more!) until it cracks again. And then you walk around and grumble: have I not said so?
Unless it doesn’t crack… ;)
In 2013, the Istanbul’s „Time Out” magazine published a list of „Fifty signs you’ve been in Turkey too long”. It was written by a Spanish expat living in Istanbul.
The list is quite hilarious, but since it concerns mainly Istanbul, there are points there that may be totally not understandable for an expat living in another Turkish city or points known only in theory (e.g. wild clubbing or eating mussels at night). Life in Istanbul goes by a rhythm pretty different from what we know and foreigners from all over the world are having fun there, often not knowing any Turkish apart from some basic expressions since they hang out mainly within their circles or surround themselves with English speaking Turks.
I remembered about the list recently as I noticed some weird behaviours of mine that I hadn’t had before so I decided to create a list of my own. We can call it similarly, especially that some points will be the same, but I would add a subtitle there about a sickness called “turkisization”.
How to recognise you’ve been in Turkey too long
– symptoms of turkisization
- If you don’t drink a couple of cups of çay with your breakfast, you have a migraine in the afternoon.
- When preparing a meal for minimum 2 people, you put everything into one bowl instead of dividing all into portions.
- When crossing a one-way street, you check both directions, just to be sure.
- The calls for prayer coming from mosques no longer wake you up in the morning. What is more, you practically don’t hear them anymore (the hardcore version: when you hear ezan, you turn the radio volume down).
- You don’t make normal sandwiches as a person should do but you tear the Turkish bread into pieces and dip them/fill them with goodies.
- You change your clothing: the male version – you wear an atlet (sleeveless shirt) underneath your shirt even in summer, female version – you wear a thin top/undershirt underneath your shirt even in summer.
You become „flexible in time” – you are late everywhere and you don’t feel any remorse.
- For women: you start thinking all men have hidden agenda (hardcore version: and you have grounds for thinking so).
- You start noticing that most of your friends are mixed-nationality couples and both them and their bilingual kids don’t impress you. What impresses you is couples and marriages of people from the same country.
You start clicking your tongue instead of saying „no”.
- If you’re sharing a flat, you stop dividing everything into my/his/her butter/washing powder/bread/tea but you all use everything together, wondering how you could have been doing it any other way.
- You cross the street (regardless of the lights) peacefully, being simply certain that the car coming towards you will not hurt you.
- *Note: don’t follow that way* You don’t fasten your seatbelts in the city because “no one does it”.
- You drink Turkish tea even in highest temperatures.
- You know how, when and what to drink rakı (anis vodka) with.
- You know that when around Turks, you cannot say anything negative about Atatürk, and to be on the safe side, you generally avoid political discussions.
- You walk around with your phone in your hand.
- You cross the street on red light even when there is a policeman standing just next to you.
- You have at least one favourite Turkish soap opera and its airing time is just sacred for you.
You are a fan of either Fenerbahçe or Galatasaray or Besiktaş and you have at least one gadget of the team’s club.
- You got used to talk shows, news and soap operas that last some 3 hours.
- You kiss both cheeks when greeting friends of both genders.
- You have a Turkish bead in your flat or on your hand/neck/car keys.
- You call strangers abi, abla, teyze, dayi (brother, sister, auntie, uncle) and you don’t see anything strange about it.
- You know that this list could be twice this length.
And now admit everyone, who has all the signs of turkisization?
I – have too many… ;)
Translated from Polish by Anna Sowińska (linkedin)