Dystopia in the offing

My granddaughter spent her 147th birthday surrounded by her descendants. They’ve just arrived in their glitzy humming drones,  landing in the drone-port at the backyard.

She got scared when I came across her while she was sneaking around in my garret. “Goodie, goodie, grandpa”, she shouted. “Is this one of those grubby things you called books?”

“That’s right, sweetie”

“These pictures!” she cried. “Are they those African tribesmen you told me about?”

“No, my dear. They’re white people like you and me. Humans used to be all sorts of colors. They used to call it races and many hated each other if they were a different one. ”

“How about these symbols in people’s skin?”

“Those markings were called tattoos. People thought it was cool to have a needle stuck in them and get their bodies defaced.”

They were all with her now, tittering and making faces. “Outré”!

“And what are those?!”

“Cars. You had to drive it yourself. Damn hazardous!”

“And those funny buildings?”

“Oh, that was New York. It had to be abandoned after the floods in the 2050s, but the water wasn’t the real problem. It was the poison and all the plastic waste and bottles. No one could wipe out the mess.”

“The houses are huge. Did anyone live in them?”

“Of course. That was Manhattan. All the basements had been dug out, so when the water came in the houses just floated away. Company bosses lived in them. They earned 300 times more than the workers and said they deserved it because they were so intelligent. We had a system called capitalism. But then a famous writer published two brilliant books called “Human Farm” and “2084”. And we got rid of it.”

“And why are those people walking around outside? That’s so dangerous. You can’t do that!”

“Well, you could do all kinds of things: ride a bike, eat an ice-cream or even read a newspaper at Central Park. It was quite safe before the sea rose and the big heats came and then the Chinese smog. That’s why we just go from house to house in our drones.”

“So, was it better in the old days?”

I paused. “Yes, in many ways it was actually,” I said finally. “But the people who ran the world were really, really stupid.”slave

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Little Things Matter: Some Do’s and Don’t’s

There is actually no point in writing a large list of do’s and dont’s because Turkish people just want you to relax and have fun with them or have a pleasant stay in their houses. Nevertheless, here are some tips that you should bear in mind.

1. AN INVITATION TO THEIR HOUSE

'Hoşgeldiniz' carpet

‘Hoşgeldiniz’ carpet

Turkish people invite everyone anytime to their house. It might just be for having tea or turkish coffee, breakfast or a formal evening meal. Remember to answer ‘Hoş bulduk’ (happy to be here and being welcomed) when they tell you ‘hos geldiniz’ (welcome) while entering the house.

No shoes allowed

  • Interesting fact #1: Shoes in the house are generally not allowed. Instead you will be given apair of slippers. In some houses, you will be handed in a wet wipe to clean your hands too. No shoes are allowed because the floor is usually wood and there are lots of carpets in the house.

2. TURKISH BODY LANGUAGE (Important)

  • Turkish gesture to say ‘NO’

    Interesting fact #1: Raising your chin, moving your eyebrows up and simultaneously clicking your tongue means “NO” or “I don’t like it” (Try it. It is fun!). This is one of the most common gestures in Turkey.

  • Interesting fact #2: Turkish people greet by kissing each other on both cheeks (but this is done actually touching the cheeks). This can be done man to man, woman to woman or man to woman. If you are very close to that person you canalways shaking hands. When you meet a friend, you generally kiss on both cheeks. In Turkey, it is common to hold the hand of a friend or walk with your arm over your friend’s shoulder. This does not mean they are homosexual, this is a sign of close friendship. Nevertheless, some very religious people avoid any contact with the opposite sex.
  • Interesting fact #3: Never blow your nose loudly in public. It is considered a very bad manner.

    Never play 'got your nose' in Turkey

    Never play ‘got your nose’ in Turkey

  • Interesting fact #4: Do you remember playing ‘got your nose’ with children? As an Englishteacher, I suggest avoiding this… This gesture (making a fist and put your thumb between your index finger and middle finger) means you are making a gesture called ‘a fig’, which means you are telling someone to f*** off.
  • Turkish respect hand kiss

    Turkish respect hand kiss

    Interesting fact #5: Don’t be surprised if you see children and men kissing the back of an elder’s hand and raising it to their forehead for a brief touch. It is the way to show respect.

  • Interesting fact #6: When entering a room if you are not automatically met by someone greet the most elderly first. Use ‘selam’ to greet people. It is averyimportant word in Turkey.

3. GOING OUT IN TURKEY

  • Interesting fact: In Europe, most guys usually go out with their male friends. In Turkey, a group of male friends can’t usually enter a pub without girls in their group. Even if there’s a group of 5-8 guys and only 1-2 girls the doorman will stop them and they can’t enter the club or disco. It has to be at least 50% guys-girls balance in the group. The reason? I will let your imagination free.

4: GIFT GIVING

Turkish famous desert ‘baklava’ (it’s delicious)

Bringing a gift to your host is one of the most applied turkish customs. There is even a phrase for this: “Coming empty-handed” which means ‘elin bos gidilmez’ in Turkish.If you don’t bring anything it is usually seen as rude. The most usual given gifts are: desert like ‘baklava’, box of chocolates, flowers, or anything for the house.

5. DAILY LIFE EXPENSES

Rakı

Basic needs like food, clothes and accommodation are usually cheaper in Turkey than in Europe. Tugce and I do the month shopping for 200 TL approximately (65 euros). And… we LOVE eating! Clothes are normally cheap too, especially in street markets and bazaars. They are often cheaper in shopping malls than in Europe. The only expensive stuff are alcohol, electronics and fuel. Alcohol taxes are very high in Turkey and so is fuel. Fuel is about 2€/liter, which means a lot for a Turkish average salary. One bottle of original Vodka is about 30€ and a cheap wine is about 4-5€. Even the traditional famous Turkish drink ‘Rakı’ is expensive.

Turkish toasting with ‘Raki’

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Turkish Breakfast – Turk Kahvaltı

First week I came to Ankara, Tuğçe and I went to have breakfast outside. I looked at the table with fear and doubt. Every freaking inch was covered by a plate, bowl or cup. The table was full of food! I actually thought: ‘Have the waiter misunderstood our order?’ When we said “breakfast for two”, did he understand “a huge feast for my hungry horde of Vikings”? Because I couldn’t believe my eyes…

Nevertheless, THAT was a “normal” Turkish breakfast: eggs, different kind of cheeses (old, goat, sheep…), bread, olives,  tomatoes, cucumber, börek (fluffy, filled pastries), poğaça (fluffy bread filled with cheese or smash potatoes), omelet, fruit preserves, ‘simit’, sweet butter sausages, honey, jams, nuts, salad, ‘sucuk’ (like pepperoni or ‘chorizo’ in Spain) and tea in a ‘semaver’ (tea urn). Everything you could possibly want was there. Turkish people really enjoy their ‘kahvalti’ (literally, “before coffee”). They can sit down, eat, talk and drink tea for hours. One could possibly think: Of course you can have a breakfast like that in Europe, but for how much money? The most shocking part was actually the bill. It was just 30 TL for two people, that is 5 euros per person!!

Simit with turkish tea

“Simit” is an important symbol for lower and middle-class people of Turkey. It is a circular bread with sesame seeds. In Ankara, simit are more crunchy because they are made with grapes molasses. Simit is also a street food. They are sold by street merchants. Some of them have a simit trolley, others carry the simit in a tray on their head. Street vendors generally advertise simit as fresh (‘Taze simit!’/’Taze gevrek!’) since they are baked throughout the day. Besides, they may be hot (“Sıcak, sıcak!”) and extremly hot (“El yakıyor!” literally meaning “It can burn your hand!”).

  • Interesting fact #1: Turkish tea always consists of black brewed tea. The Turkish tea glasses always have that curvy shape because it resembles the figure of a curvy woman. Guys mix the sugar in the tea touching gently the sides of the cup to make a soft and high-pitched sound. The tradition says the sound resembles the moves of a belly-dancer.
  • Interesting fact #2: Besides beautiful culture and traditions, Turkish language has also awesome and pleasant words that most other languages haven’t. For example: if you liked the food in a restaurant after finish eating you may say: ‘ellerine saglik’ (literally means ‘health to your hands’) and the waiter/waitress would answer ‘afiyet olsun’ (bon appetit). When someone pays for you (usually guys) you may say to him: ‘kesene bereket’ (I hope your money will grow) and then he may answer ‘afiyet olsun’.
  • Interesting fact #3: They always serve wet wipes after you meal, no matter how cheap the restaurant is.
  • Interesting fact #4: The bill is always given inside a cute box and handed in to the guy of the table.
  • Interesting fact #5: Everytime your cup of tea is empty, a waiter or waitress will fill it for you though it is a cheap café, restaurant or food place.

‘Turk kahvaltı’ might look like tastless and poor if you compare it with the sugary breakfasts served in America and Europe. But with time, one’s body gets used to this healthy routine in the morning.

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Turkish Coffee – Turk Kahve

The Turks were the first to introduce coffee to Europe in the 16th century in the Ottoman Empire time.

Turkish Coffee is called Turk Kahve. ‘Kahvaltı’ (breakfast) literally means ‘before coffee’ because after a good breakfast, tradition is to have a cup of Turk Kahve.

As Turkish people say: “To drink one cup of coffee together guarantees forty years of friendship”.

  • Price: from 1 TL to 5 TL (0.3 € – 1.5 €)
  • Turk Kahve is always served with a glass of water (it’s freeee)
  • Interesting fact #1: The leftovers in the bottom of your cup can be used to tell your fortunate. The empty cup is turned upside down on the saucer and let it get cold for 3-5 minutes.  The grains that have run down the sides of the cup are then read to find out what is in store for your future!
  • Interesting fact #2: Traditionaly, when the groom’s family ask the bride’s family for the marriage aproval, the bride’s father will make a cup of Turk Kahve and instead of adding sugar he would add salt. When the groom drinks the Kahve it will determine if he could stand by the bride either in the sweet or the salty/sour moments for the rest of their lives. The bride’s father will understand what material is the groom made of!
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