I’ve lived in Turkey for about ten years now, and have almost completely adapted to the way of life. I’m no longer surprised if I’m offered a piece of stinky cheese direct from a goat skin and can use even the most basic of squat toilets without needing to hold my nose. I’m so assimilated I sometimes forget there’s any other way of living, until I come back from a holiday abroad. That’s when I realise that …. you know you’ve lived in Turkey too long because rather than telling friends about what you saw, you recall with a kind of wonder that over there,
- people say sorry if they bump into you by accident.
- when drivers stop to let you cross the road at a pedestrian crossing, they aren’t simply stopping by chance before nearly running you over when they take off again without looking.
- commuters let you get off the bus/train/public transport before they try to get on.
- you don’t have to worry about death by asphyxiation when you catch a bus. They aren’t rank with the intense odour of unwashed bodies because all the windows are closed, winter or summer, for fear of catching a cold.
- when people ask guests in their home if they’d like a glass of water they don’t first check if the person wants it ılık (lukewarm), or soğuk (cold) from the refrigerator.
- if you’re a woman it’s not necessary to hide your underwear underneath another item of clothing when you hang it out to dry.
- no one has to run around the house closing all the windows in summer when the sound of the generator on the mosquito spray truck comes drifting inside.
- you can organise for a groups of friends to get together without the need to check that everyone is happy with absolutely every tiny detail of the arrangements. And no one cancels at the last minute by telling you their mother, cousin, aunt, in-laws, brother or best friend from their hometown has suddenly decided to land on their doorstep, unexpectedly, for a three week/month stay which means you won’t see them again until their guest has gone home.
Now I know this list isn’t comprehensive, so I’ve love you to tell me the things that surprise you when you come back to Turkey after being in another country. You can write them in the comments section below.