Thursday, March 31, 2011

Direct Speech - Saying it as you see it, Turkish style!

I have found Turkish  people to be amazingly direct and to jump in places even I wouldn't dare to go! Within a short time of meeting them, you can be asked "How much do you earn?"  "How much have you in the bank?". These questions often precede the more basic "How old are you?"
When we were first furnishing our house we went to Metro, a large store which sells wholesale, but also gives a day pass to ordinary shoppers. If you do not hold a metro card, you get this day pass on entering the store. You need photo ID and a contact telephone number.
I gave them my phone number and produced my passport which was a number of years old. In my photo I had the end of a perm in my hair. The girl looked at my passport and then, doubtfully, at me. I now had a straight bob and was 6 years older. So my other half produced my driving licence. The photo was even older and I had a "chaps haircut"......or a "convicts haircut" some might say in it.
Once again, the girl looked at my photo IDs and then back at me. "Oh, you're so much prettier now" she exclaimed!
A more recent incident, I was swimming in the pool and there was a lady, dressed in a bhurkini also in for a swim. She was full of admiration for my front crawl and wanted me to show her how to do it. It was so difficult for her to lift the arms far enough out of the water as she was weighed down by her swimming costume. She then decided to engage me in conversation and wanted to know if my friend's 5 year old was my grandchild. I told her that I had no grandchildren as yet. This led to the inevitable question of my age.
When I told her I was 50 she appeared shocked! It was not my comparative youth that gave her pause. How did I have so many lines on my face if I was only 50. Answering with my own brand of humour I told her it was because I was which she replied that she had lost her husband recently. He died of complications due to diabetes. Oops, that was my two feet well and truly in my mouth.
It got more difficult when I was asked to guess her age.....what a minefield. I went for being younger, at least that was more flattering (though in hindsight I should have gone for the late 60's) It turns out she was 52. There are definitely advantages in being covered when living in hot climates!
All my friends have had similar experiences, we have put on weight, our Turkish is disimproving........One friend was told by a neighbour, that the previous owner of her house kept the place spotless and washed the terrace several times a day. My friend was very quick however. She replied she was a conservationist and didn't believe in wasting water!
So now, I tell people I'm half Turk and jump in where angels fear to tread.


  1. What a delightful post! And it just proves my belief that communication between cultures can be challenging! You handle it well. Brava!

  2. Loved this post...We Indians can be pretty intrusive too!


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