Expatriates, like everyone else, come in all shapes and sizes – the mean and the mannered, the classless and the classy, the awful and the joyful. The abbreviated epithet ’expat’ simply doesn’t adequately express the myriad folk who have chosen to live here In Turkey (or anywhere else for that matter). To add a little descriptive colour to the posts of my Turkey days, I devised some new words and phrases to depict the numerous variants of the species.
Retirees serving out their twilight years in the sun, most of whom seem to be just a little to the right of Genghis Khan and who bought a jerry built white box in Turkey because it was cheaper than Spain (well, it was at the time). Everyday emigrey life operates within a parallel universe of neo colonial separateness preoccupied with visa hops to the Isles of Greece, pork sausages, property prices and Blighty bashing.
VOMITs* (Victims of Men in Turkey)
Vintage desperate ex-housewives with a few lira to spare who shamelessly chase younger Turkish men. Predictably, such relationships rarely last once the money runs out. A sub-genus of the species is the MADs (my Ahmed’s different) for those delusional VOMITs who think that their Turkish man is somehow different from the rest because ‘he really loves me.’ Who are they trying to kid?
A new addition to the Expat Glossary for 2014, the Sisterhood is the antidote to the VOMITing sickness that afflicts the many Shirley Valentines who wash up like driftwood on the beaches of Turkey. Many of the Sisters are reformed VOMITs who’ve been through the ringer, some more than once, but have emerged to tell the tale stronger and wiser. The Sisters stick together (like birds of a feather), because men are rubbish.
Those too young to retire in the conventional sense, and who are living the vida loca on the proceeds of property sales. Plunging interest rates present quite a fiscal test to those trying to maintain a hedonistic lifestyle on dwindling assets while waiting for the pensions to kick in, assuming there will be a pension to kick in.
Veterans who have been living in Turkey for many years. Usually better informed than their peers with a less asinine view of the world, vetpats have taken the trouble to learn Turkish and are better integrated into the wider community. Some have even acquired Turkish citizenship through marriage or toil and are fortunate to have found gainful employment on the right side of the Law.
Single ladies of a certain age, rollercoaster pasts and plucky presents. Some may have once been VOMITs but, unlike many of their sisters, have learned from bitter experience and live quiet and contented lives with a refreshing insight into their lot. To qualify as a Belle you must live in Bodrum Town. Anywhere else just doesn’t cut the mustard.
A rare breed of seasoned pioneers, Emiköys have forsaken the strife of city life and deodorant for the real köy mckoy and eek out a life less ordinary in genuine Turkish villages. They get down, dirty and dusty with the locals, contribute meaningfully to their small rural communities, keep chickens, get unnaturally close to nature and talk Turkish to the trees (well not always, but I’m sure some do).
Discrete (and sometimes not so discrete) grey men of means who are serviced by young Turkish men in return for a stipend.
Those who enjoy a carefree existence of total self-indulgence liberated from the binding ties of responsibility or the worries of tomorrow. Spend, spend, spend because you can’t take it with you and there are no children to fret about. That’ll be us then.
A collective term for those who live in utter ignorance of the history and culture of their foster land, shout loudly in English and see the world at large through the narrow-minded pages of the Daily Mail (or The Daily Bigot as I like to call it).
These terms are not mutually exclusive. It’s perfectly possible for an emigrey to also be a vetpat VOMIT and a fully paid up member of the ignoble ignorati, and many are.
*The term VOMIT was first coined by former vetpat Cathy Crawford and originally described a select group of Bodrum Belles who had survived their encounters with Turkish men and lived to tell the tale. Over time, the word has mutated to its current meaning.
See how all this comes alive in the book, Perking the Pansies – Jack and Liam move to Turkey. The sequel, The Sisterhood, Jack and Liam’s Turkish Affair will be out in few months. Expect to read a lot more about the expat rat pack.
“The book’s originality lies in it’s honesty.” Time Out, Istanbul
“Empathetic, respectful and pretty acute.” Turkish Daily News