Simit is a circular bread covered in sesame seeds. If it is market day I am treated to freshly cooked gozleme, a spinach and cheese pancake.
He had been in great humour the week before he arrived. Things had been looking promising for him on the girlfriend front.
A bank clerk had kept him chatting on a couple of occasions when he was in the bank, even though there was a queue waiting behind him.
I had encouraged him to invite her for a coffee or a meal. He had done nothing about it for a while but then the previous week he got her number from a mutual friend and he invited her out.
They had several conversations and the text messages were counted - 35 in all. Things had been going fairly well but after Metin told her he didn't own a house, though one day he would inherit the family home and one fifth of the farm she seemed to cool off. The text messages became briefer. She told him she needed time to think. I'm told the girls in this area check a potential suitors assets before they choose who to fall in love with. Money in the bank was not enough.
He told her he didn't understand why she needed time to decide about meeting him for coffee, after all it was not exactly a marriage proposal. He also told her he thought she must have greater expectations and he prayed that she would find what she was looking for.
I don't think this was the response she was expecting. She did not expect that a "mere" gardener would give her the heave ho. She waited four days and then sent him a message to say his message had upset her greatly, goodbye.
While realising that he had probably had a lucky escape, he was very downhearted. We had the usual questions for breakfast. When will I get married, how will I find a girl? We had yet another counselling session. I think I have Mammy tattooed on my forehead! He finds it hard to meet girls, yet when he is offered an introduction to some girls, he has his own set of criteria. They have to be prepared to work, life is hard, wages are low. If both of them worked they would have a better chance to provide for their one child.
It is a difficult system, introductions and marriage in rural Turkey. Metin's parents are ageing and never made the introductions for him. He is the youngest of five, all the rest are married. He is a bit like the cuckoo in the nest. He is ambitious for himself and his future, but if you come from a poor farming family, without someone to help you, it is very hard to get that first foot on the business ladder. He doesn't want an arranged marriage, he wants a life partner. Someone to love and who loves him for who he is, not what he's got.
Without a house and a car his chances are greatly reduced, in this area anyway. He is 33 and every time he goes home for someones wedding, he is asked when will it be your turn? Is there something wrong with you nudge nudge wink wink?
Previously, I had asked my friend if she knew any local girls who might be interested in meeting him. She made some enquiries and in one case, the family were poor but were indignant that she asked was their daughter interested in meeting him. They had less than he but were hoping to improve their lot through her marriage. That was the end of her enquiries!
She confirmed everything Metin said about the girls only wanting to meet men with houses. It is not about the ability to provide. Even in her case, her son was getting married and they were having difficulties with the Mother-in-Law-to-be. They have an empty apartment. Ideal for the young couple starting out, rent and mortgage free. However MIL was insisting they bought a house for the couple. Eventually she accepted this was not a viable proposition but insisted that 20 gold bracelets be bought as the "bride price" Each one cost 2000tl approximately €800. This was in addition to the cost of the wedding.
In Turkey, for those opting for a traditional wedding, the majority of the expense falls on the grooms family. How do they afford the lavish three day affairs? If only I was living there, with 4 daughters the gold would be rolling in the door. Unfortunately, I'm living in Ireland. I have bought a long ladder and shown the girls where I keep it. Hopefully, they will elope and save themselves, and us, the expense of all the hoopla weddings bring!