The Ninth Turkey Epistle
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Today we went over to Osmanbey where Ros and Yuce live. Murray was meeting with Yuce to talk about things relating to Yuce’s journey towards ordination. It is one of the ways that Murray is trying to be of use here at the Church of the Resurrection.
Ros lives quite near to Yuce’s flat so it was arranged that I would have tea with her at her place. It was so lovely to sit with her and just visit. She is an amazing person. She became a Christian in her Confirmation class at age 13 and has faithfully served God all the rest of her life. For many years she taught Math at the International School in Istanbul and now many of those girls are leaders in their communities – quite a ministry I think. Back in England she was a lay reader and played an active leadership role in the church there. Now, in retirement, she is back in Turkey to help Engin. She has been a tremendous support to us. One of her important roles is preparing readings for the services each Sunday.
The entire Anglican liturgy is not translated into Turkish yet! Ros is working on this with others in the congregation and then will send it off to the new Bishop of Europe for his approval. We found out on Sunday, for example, that there is no word in Turkish for ‘Ascension”. I only discovered this when I asked Yuce what it was like to translate for Murray. That is when he told me that it was generally fine until there was a word like Ascension for which there was no Turkish word. I don’t know how this hits you but it stopped me in my tracks – it again underlined how provincial I am in my experience. Yuce said he had to translate the word by using a sentence.
For supper, Ros took us to meet two of her friends, teachers at the International School. One lady has been in Turkey for 37 years and is just about to retire back to California. The other woman – an American but with family in the Kingston/Peterborough/Ottawa triangle has been here 3 years. They were all such fun and full of life – and I sat amazed at their courage and strength.
We went to The House Cafe! OK, OK – true confession time – again – I LOVED it – it was sOOOOO North American. I had Herb Crusted Grilled Salmon with Spinach, Baked Potatoes and Roquefort! My slightly tender tummy was in heaven. Their signature tea is a medley of wonderful floral flavours served in a real teapot, a footed cut glass cup and a garnish of fruit – thin slices of apples in a fan shape balanced by tiny wedges of lemon and orange! Aren’t you just a little envious?
Then!! We went to a Taize Service in an ancient French Roman Catholic Church. There were 4 instruments – guitar, viola, clarinet and flute. The priest and 2 sisters were lovely and warm and welcoming. We were welcomed and asked to participate in the service – even me! I was very moved by their generosity. The service is conducted in Turkish, French, German and English – songs and prayers alternating in these languages. Some parts were read in 3 languages consecutively. They meet on the 2nd Tuesday of the month from September until June so this was the last one for the summer. Just for the interest of those of us who plan our own Taize Service I counted a minimum of 150 candles!!! One woman from Australia summed up the experience by sharing that it was very meaningful to be part of a worldwide community – and it was.
The Funniest TV Show
I just have to tell you about a crazy cooking show I saw on TV. It was a one hour show on cooking eggs. The host was a very expressive woman with a larger than life personality. The guest was a cute Home Economist ( I am partial to cute HEc grads). The first recipe was an egg mixture that was cooked in muffin tins. While waiting for this to cook, the host went over to the most impressive chicken coop I have ever seen – it would have been fit for the Topkapi Palace. She opened the door and coaxed one of the chickens out – with some difficulty this did happen and the little chicken started to wander all around the studio. Then the host tried to lock the door of the coop and couldn’t – try as she might – while she headed back to the top of the set one of the sound guys ran over to lock the door or there would have been a whole flock of chickens wandering all over. By this time the eggie muffins were ready for tasting. The host took one, bit into it, and then turning to the audience with her back to the Home Economist gave a look that said “This is the worst thing I’ve ever tasted”.
Meanwhile, the chicken is still walking around the studio! The HEC then asked the host to help her with the next dish by mixing it – with her back to the HEc the host started adding salt – and I mean really adding salt all the time looking at the audience with a wicked gleam in her eye. For the grand finale, they tried to poke a hole in an egg – why I couldn’t tell – but no one could do it – not the expert, nor the assistant. Finally, the assistant took it to the back of the set and still couldn’t do it.
Today I decided to try dyeing my roots. After Murray’s experience at the barber’s I was a little afraid to try my chances at the salon.
Now you need to realize what a challenge this is because I had to do it all in Turkish and this is by someone who:
bought tomato pate thinking it was sausages
asked for a light onion when she thought she was asking for a light bulb
and bought fabric softener instead of laundry soap
First of all I bought just about the lightest colour I could figure out thinking I would rather err on being too light rather than too dark.
At home, using our dictionary, I figured out that I had bought permanent dye and more or less figured out how many minutes, etc.
With great gratitude to my friend Anne who gave me an emergency trip pack ( all of which I have used, Anne – my gratitude) I managed to mix the first two chemicals in the metal ashtray in our room and apply the dye to my roots. After the appropriate amount of time I used the comb that Anne gave me to comb the mixture through my hair. Murray turned on the hot water from the central tank in our kitchen and I was away to the races – washing everything thoroughly, applying the conditioner, etc., – and with great relief saw that my hair was neither black, pink or red but juuuuust right.
O, you know I love shoes and sooner or later – it was inevitable – I was going to succumb.
My place of utter temptation – the narrow streets of Galata and my favourite shops – a purple pair of soft leather Turkish slippers complete with upturned toes – handmade and only 80TL. How could I resist? For your sakes I couldn’t leave them here – you would have been asking why hadn’t I bought them? – so – fellow conspirators – they are mine! they fit, they are comfortable, they are so much fun! But ——- and ——- another shop – a new favourite – right next to the first – more handmade shoes – only 80TL and so cute. This time flats – black suede with embroidery – a large red flower on each toe with tendrils of silver along one side – pale green on the other. At the back, on each side a splash of pink and then on the heel, a splash of gold, green and hot pink! I wish I could bring you all back a pair!
I have avoided talking about all the stray cats and dogs in Istanbul but it is such a part of life here that I feel I must.
There are huge numbers of feral cats and dogs. The cats are everywhere you look – quite lean but basically clean and healthy looking. Some of them seem to have an ‘arrangement’ with the small business owners who at best leave out a bit of food and water and at worst tolerate them. In the evenings we are often ‘entertained’ by a concert of sounds – one can only imagine what’s going on. The dogs appear to be from the same general lineage. In the 1800’s one of the sultans tried to rid of them but failed. Now, the city rounds many of them up, spays them, gives them shots, and tags them. It is sad to see them sleeping on sidewalks from time to time and when we first arrived I thought some of them were dead! But, as with the cats, there seems to be a happy compatibility between them and the human population. What does surprise me is that for all their numbers, the city and the parks are very clean.
A Funny Thing Happened ……
Tonight Murray and I went for a walk along the seawall and decided to sit to enjoy the sun setting over the Blue Mosque. To our surprise a young girl came up and asked if she could take our picture! She said we looked so nice that she wanted a picture. After she took several pictures she said “God bless you” and left. It was strange to be the object of curiosity.
In a word – they are gorgeous! They have such exotic faces with the dark hair, dramatic eyes and distinctive eyebrows that are carefully groomed. And, they are very artistic. When they are having their pictures taken they pull their hair around and over one shoulder, turn to the side and give a sideways look into the camera – and it starts early. This afternoon a little girl about 8 was with her mother and aunts and they were all taking each others’ pictures. When it came to her turn she pulled her hair back and gave a cute coy little look! Very sweet.