Saturday, September 23, 2006

Learning Turkish

Turkish is an agglutinating language, which means it makes the bits in your brain stick together and become something akin to Russian kasha.

This is how it works:
Where English and other languages, need seven or so words to say something like "I will not come to the Cinema", Turkish only needs two ("sinemaya gelmiyorum").

This is because Turkish agglutinates all the bits to the verb or the noun or both:
In the example above, the negative (m) is stuck onto the root of the verb (gel) and before the subject (here first person singular indicated by "um"). The preposition "to" is the "ya" at the end of the word cinema.

This all sounds pretty simple until you start trying to identify words as someone is speaking. You might get one or two words, but they could mean a number of things -or potentially the exact opposite- depending on what is stuck on to them.

To add to the fun, the basic word order is "the woman the book read" which again sounds simple enough, cause the book can't read the woman, but wait until the sentence you are trying to understand involves two people and try to figure out who is doing what to whom!

Unexpected use of prepositions with verbs (for instance "I like *from* my friend", which literally comes out as "friend mine from very like I") combined with no distinction in between masculine and feminine (no gender whatsoever) completes the scrambling of neurones.

On the positive side, most of the endings rhyme with the word you're adding them on to and there are only six letters in the Turkish alphabet which do not exist in the English one (of which three vowels, but Turkish has no Q, W, X) so at least I don't have to learn another alphabet!

Fun, huh?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Power cuts & flooding - final episode

... at least I hope this is the end of it, although by the looks of our parquet...

Anyone interested in setting up a gym for ants?
I'm pretty sure we could incorporate some kind of roller coaster and actually make it into a fun fair...In fact, if things keep up, we could extend the invitation to larger beasts like squirrels and stuff

Vive la vie en Turquie!

Monday, September 18, 2006

After the power cuts...

't was an eventful weekend for us!

To celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary (Jeez! already!!!!) we decided to be brave, romantic and get cozy all at once, by lighting a fire in our fireplace for the first time!
To be honest, we were weary doing this, seeing as our neighbors told us horror stories of their house- so cautious we were. However - no hiccups whatsoever, no back smoke, nothing fell into the fire from the chimney, ... nope it all went fine.

Until 1h30am when a whooshing sound woke me up - my husband is always making fun of my ultra sensitive amygdala & limbic system, but haha! Am I glad it's alive and well 'cause hubs and dog were snoring away while I rose out of bed... to place my feet in centimeters of water!
No, it wasn't the fire brigade putting out our flaming home!

The boiler had burst!
Hot water was splashing out of a waving tube, bouncing off the door of the laundry room, onto the floor, swimming along the corridor, all the way to our room.
As it turns out - we were lucky. Had it happened during the day time, the whole house would have been flooded, with no one around to notice. (We estimated that the water had been running for a maximum of twenty minutes).

All is well that ends well. We had the boiler repaired this morning and were hot-water-showered by mid-day. Plus, we both took the day off to get this done. Sweet.

This evening, when we lit the fireplace again, more confidently this time around, we were stunned by another whooshing sound... bats! In our living room, swerving around the air in rapid circles.
Maybe this fireplace thing ain't such a good idea after all...

Happy anniversary to us!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Low birth rate resolved the easy way

Learning from Turkey, how can Europe resolve low birth rate?

Often we look for complicated schemes, government incentives, sponsored baby-care... I say, try power cuts! Simple, efficient, low cost.

One in the morning, when people are about to make coffee, shower, dry their hair... -and all they want to do is get back into bed - you just give them that extra push.
One in the evening, but not too late, just when they would normally be washing the dishes, watching TV, or browsing the web, so they're tired, but not exhausted!

After all, don't stats and medical journals show there are baby booms 9 months after power cuts? I say it's worth a try!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Turkish textile gets popular support

Switzerland, being one of the least patriotic countries I've ever lived in, always surprised me with the number of flags hung on national holidays...But the Turks here, are totally in another league.

See, in Switzerland, flags are hung by the authorities on bridges and official buildings. The only flags I've ever seen on people's private windows are "PEACE" flags (except maybe during the World Cup where all sorts come out).

Turks however, are fully on board when it comes to national holidays! Have you ever seen so many flags?!

Today, September 9th, Izmir celebrates the 1922 "evacuation" of Greeks from Smyrna (Izmir) who
administered the city and region for three years following the Treaty of Sèvres (1919). Four days later, on September 13th, a four day fire all but destroyed the city, paving the way to it's current concrete waterfront.

So today, Izmir is screaming with flags to celebrate both Ataturk - pictured on a lot of the flags - and liberation from the Greeks....and they're not forgetting their growing textile industry.
Even their brides are patriotic!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Neon signs aren't always enough!

Have you ever felt that what you are trying to express is as obvious as a HUGE green neon sign, flashing over your head, but that the person you are trying to get the message to, is just not getting it?

It's just so frustrating!

Here's the blurb:

About three weeks ago, the nice Frenchman's wife and kids arrived. Remember, he's nice and smart and fun, and works with my husband. She, on the other hand is really starting to get under my skin.

's by no means nasty, or wicked, no. She's just pushy, self-centered, totally narcissistic (in a half naïve, half smug, child-like way) and will not take a polite, diplomatic, no-thank-you kind of answer to anything. (And I'm not the world's greatest diplomat, take my word for it! I tend to be rather direct!)

A couple of days after they arrive, via her husband, Hubs and I get asked over for a drink. Nice. Except, we practically have to get ourselves a drink (remember it was 40°C!!!) and end up sitting in the garden looking out for their kids in the pool while She's checking her newly installed Internet connection, checking if Skype works, occasionaly asking us for technical support. He was unfortunately sorting out some other issue with the techie who'd just shown up.
Not the greatest "we're all yabanci (foreigners), let's bond and help each other" moment... but, hey, it can happen.

A few days later, She contacted me by e-mail and wrote: "(She would) gladly accept my offer to help" - nicely put, don't you think? Considering I hadn't offered anything yet! Anyway, this was her way of NOT asking me to take her to town. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and obliged.

needed to get to a furniture shop in town, but didn't quite know where it was.
My sis-in-law was visiting and we figured we could do a few things in town ourselves, so we drove by hers and She followed in her car with her kids, to learn the way into town.

We all park at the closest parking and meet-up at the elevators. We catch the lift up, walk to the street where her shop is, and I sigh:

Ok, well, see you around...

"Actually, I just want to quickly have the kids pictures taken" She throws over her shoulder as She pushes into a photographer's shop with her kids. (Um, am I missing something? What does that have to do with us?) The door shuts and I catch her motioning for us to wait at the café on the corner. Fine. Whatever. We could use a bite.

Twenty minutes later, sis-in-law and I have had some drinks and a bite, and things are dandy. Here She comes, sprouting their pics and all smiles.

Off we go.... Oh, no! Off She goes; a million questions & comments on everything and anything.
Where does sis-in-law work? What does she do? Must be difficult working with orphans? How come we bought a car instead of importing one? How much did we pay? And She orders lunch for herself and the kids...

OMG, the lunch!

spent the whole meal yelling at her ten year old son to shut it, competing with her two-year-old for attention, and making sure my sis-in-law (or anyone else in the restaurant charmed by the little one’s cuteness) would repeatedly take her daughter to the toilet so the never-ending flow spurting through her lips could go on uninterrupted. (Forgive me, am I being catty? I'm not usually, She's just toxic, what can I say, some people just get under your skin! And remember I’m writing this with hindsight and perspective!)

I get the bill and we finally manage to get away and out of sight.

No news for a while thankfully, and I believe my sis-in-law when she says I made my point.

Sweet illusion!

e-mails, She has been trying to get in touch re: our Turkish lessons (yes, She has enrolled via the company in the same beginner's course) but I seem to be out a lot (for the record, I have not stooped to not answering or cutting her calls, so I don't think so lady...) and so, could I call her when it suits me? (How about never?)

I send her the links and all the enrollment details for the language classes as well as their contact details -everything I had, Scout's honor. I even put her in contact with the International Women's Group here, hoping for relief in numbers.

Monday was the first day of my Turkish classes, and for a week now, I've been dreading the call. (See, this type of person only contacts you when you can be of use. And I knew, the princess She is, had probably not found her way to the school nor registered).

Bingo! Last Saturday, an e-mail. About the classes...could I call her? Uh-uh. No way.

I send her the address and list enrollment docs, -again - and tell her I'm off to Istanbul for a few days. (Simultaneously, I find out from the school that there are too many beginner students for one class! Yay! There'll be more than one! And, no She has not registered - they ask me about her since the company has given her name but She has not confirmed attendance yet).

A day after we're back from Istanbul, She calls. Damn!

"Can we go together? It would be fun. The ride, the talk, starting classes together?" Just writing about it is making my skin crawl!

I try to weave my way out; "I have errands to run in town after class, and it would be more convenient to be independent. I wouldn't want to keep you in town, with your kids coming home from their first day in school...." She insists, and insists.... "Look, can we talk later?" Agh!

The day prior to class, She sends a text - we could meet at hers in the morning.

Fine, I'll go to hers. She can follow me the first day, so She can find her way there. Then, I'll somehow get into a different class, and cut the ropes. How hard can it be?!

I show up at hers with my car Monday morning bright and early explaining that She can follow me to the school, but that due to errands, I need my car. She pouts, but agrees. Off we go.
We're stuck in the traffic and I can see her through my windshield reaching for her mobile phone... a fraction of a minute later mine starts ringing- Nooooooo! I turn the music up and sing. I can't believe the woman. She's totally fusional!

We arrive at the parking in front of the school, and as luck would have it - there's a wedding thing on, and the parking is full... (Groan) The valet tells me (and then her) that there's an Otopark further on... I turn the car around, there's another one just behind us, that'll do fine, thank-you! Plus we're not exactly early as it is.

Alarmed, She looks out of her window, and screams: "I can't turn my 4x4 here, can you please wait for me?" - and drives off to the other fxxx otopark.

I park, and wait. And wait. I call her up. She's looking for a parking space. Am I waiting for her? Yes, I am. (How did this happen? She's the one who needs, and I'm the one constantly waiting?!)

Fifteen minutes later, She breezily walks up the street as if She were sight seeing, strolling at the speed of a tortoise. I breathe deeply and attempt a smile. We cut through a toyshop so as not to have to walk around the block and She starts telling me about the toys She bought her kids here. Aghhhh. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out.

We finally get to class. 30 minutes late. Packed. There are no seats left. The teacher goes out to gets some more chairs and I manage to sit at the other end of the room from She.
After 20 minutes we break and another teacher shows up with the first one. He splits the class right down the middle, explaining there are too many of us.
I walk down the hall with my half of the room to another class - No! Wait! "I'd like to go in zee ozer class, wiz my frend?" And within a second She's sitting right beside me.

I am totally despairing.

is totally eating up my oxygen.

Class starts, and after being given a few basic words and phrase/question structures, we are asked to work in pairs criss-crossing so that everyone gets to ask and answer every question.
The teacher is super encouraging with all of us, even those of us who have the worst accents or swallow the suffixes on occasion - but She will not have it.

After a mere hour of Turkish classes, She is cutting off the teacher and correcting everyone with "no it's not that, it's this" and drowning out every other person's voice.

The teacher diplomatically changes tactic. He calls out a specific name pointing at a word on his board so we can form a question, getting someone else to answer it. She asks and answers every single one of them aloud!!!

Class finishes and I'm down the stairs- She catches up with me asking if I can wait for her while She registers so I can show her where the close-by otopark is. (I know, I seem really dumb and a total masochist by now, but She's wearing me out!) Ok, I tell her, I'll wait in a café outside.

I order a drink, open my book, and withdraw from her and the morning for a few minutes.

She returns and immediately asks where I'm going for my errands and won't I have lunch? But the few minutes of escape in my book have re-energized me!

I manage to pay and make my way out, helped by the noise of traffic and people as we walk to where my car is parked. I hand in my ticket and drown her out, concentrated on paying my parking and getting away from her.

"Will you have errands to run tomorrow? If not could we drive in together...?"

I wave her goodbye in the noise of the street, knowing that tomorrow I will drive myself to class, without stopping by her place, with my music on full blast and my mobile phone deep in my bag.

Looks like for me, Turkish class is going to be more than about learning a new language...

Update: As planned, on Tuesday I leave her to find her own way to class. Driving there, my phone rings, but I don't reply. When I enter the classroom she pouts and greets me through tight lips. Just in case, after class, I run, but she manages to catch up with me by the parking... I stick to my guns, and miraculously escape lunch! Yay! On Wednesday, after two days of sitting next to her, I managed to move to another seat, and by Thursday she is no longer talking to me. Yay! Yay! Yay!
Nasty, huh? but sometimes you have to go to extremes to make a point!