Love Thy Neighbour

After an long, exhausting day at the beach we returned home to a bit of a do. Our shared courtyard was ablaze with candles and Bubbly Beril was busily dressing her patio table. Moments later, the flamboyant Sofiya floated through the garden accompanied by a younger woman slapped up like Coco the Clown on a bad hair day. Beril turned to Liam and explained in broken English that she was throwing an impromptu al fresco dinner party and we would be joining them.  In five minutes. The menu was a generous selection of calamari and un-filleted fish.  This was Liam’s worst nightmare – he simply can’t do fish bones and tentacles are an absolute no no. I watched my husband attempt to keep his gag reflex in check, but he struggled. Eventually, he resorted to stashing cuts of rubbery squid in the pockets of his bermuda shorts. Oh the shame.

The evening was an eclectic mix of insults and complements, with Sofiya acting as the unofficial translator. Her companion was half cut from the start. She sat po-faced and aloof, only opening her mouth to demand more rakı. My attempts to engage her in a friendly tête-à-tête went largely unrequited. When she did speak it was to brag about her English – a result of a ten year stint in Texas (or Teksars, as she called it). Her pidgin dialect seemed little better than my Turkish, but I let it go. The miserable Coco became more and more inebriated. As her tongue loosened, the reason for her truculence became crystal clear – I was the problem. She unleashed an unprovoked broadside in my direction about foreign residents not speaking Turkish. Caught on the back foot, I attempted to placate her with a humble apology and a promise to do better. Dissatisfied, she continued to snipe. After an hour I could take no more and asked Sofiya to intervene  – she did so with grace and tact, as I would expect from an ex RADA girl. Sofiya’s friend delivered a theatrical but fake apology topped only by my own fake acceptance of it. She withdrew to the opposite end of the table to sulk and sup.

I do accept that my lack of ear for languages will hinder a meaningful engagement within my host community. However, to be dressed down by an old sop who, after spending 10 years in the USA, could hardly string a few simple words together in English was a bit rich.

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11 thoughts on “Love Thy Neighbour

  1. Sounds like a fairly disastrous evening, all round. I sympathize with your husband – I DETEST fish bones, and as for those tentacles… yurk!! Never mind. Try and laugh about it, if you can.


  2. What a lovely evening that sounded for you both, i have to say Jack……. you`re more polite than i would have been, As for the menu, im with Liam on that one…yuk. x


  3. Stashing squid in Bermuda shorts! I love it! Laughed so hard tea came out my nose.
    Most Turks seem happy with any attempt we make at Turkish, but I was had a similar experience at a restaurant. I was the only one at the table speaking Turkish, and after a year here it was hardly perfect. But when the waiter said “Your Turkish is terrible” and that his English was better than my Turkish (it was comparable) I argued (in Turkish) that it was an unfair comparison. He grew up watching American TV and films and listening to American music, whereas I’d had no exposure to Turkish until I got here.
    Besides, what a way to earn a tip!


  4. Yum,for me the menu is all right! As an Spaniard I love calamari, octopuss and all that rubbery stuff 🙂
    About the company, I have no words for that: what a nightmare!

    By the way, did you actually bathed in the beach? it sounds amazing, as in Sofia today it is … snowing!!! I’m really looking fordward to travel soon to Antalya..we have to find a house first.


  5. here’s one for you Jack; I’ve employed it in all sorts of situations, usually with stunning effect – ‘Sana ne?’ Essentially ‘What’s it to you?’ This has a salutary effect on most nosey or offensive Turks.


  6. Alan’s right Jack – “Sana ne?” works for me too, every time! Liam could have posted his squid to me – I love it!!!!! – instead of posting it in his bermudas!


  7. If only we could all just get along… 🙂 Jack, now that I’ve subscribed to the blog I’m really looking forward to learning more about your life and experiences abroad!


  8. Great post, lots of theatre and the usual typical Turkish snobbery found in some classes of people here, it’s all about the Turks feelings of being inadequate they over do the ‘I am a great person’ deal. I wish they would get over it because they actually are fine but need another generation or 2 to see that. Sana ne is a perfect response my husband uses it a lot because he is a confident out spoken Turk who can get some strange looks sometimes, there is nothing wrong with his confidence (except that he has far too much of it, if that’s possible), anyway whatever it is, he does not give a damn what people think of him. He was an editor of a newspaper here once and had supposedly a famous singer with her Mother walk in for an interview and he told them the newspaper did not require any cleaners at the moment, thank you. They were dressed so badly and their accent was appalling, the paparazzi where not amused with him as I am sure the singer wasn’t and she still talks with a terrible accent and dresses very badly. Calamari is great for me but has to be soaked correctly (in bicarbonate overnight) and cooked correctly or else I give it no attention at all, maybe a bit like the singer and her Mother.


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