Turkish Street Party

I’ll admit to being a simple guy. I am not given easily to impression and awe. With that said…today was an “impressive day” for me. We are in the process of doing some minor (shower, bathroom) remodeling on a flat that we are moving into in a few weeks, and the going has been tough.
Since my Turkçe is “yok”…this has been a difficult issue to navigate. Who do you call, what quality is the tile, how much does it cost, when can it be done?…the questions go on and on with little comprehensible understanding on my part. The people were gracious and truly wanted to help…but when you can’t understand whether they are coming today to give you an estimate…or…can’t do the work you’re asking to be done, things move slowly.
One of the local vendors, a guy who owns a small Cep shop down the street, heard of my despair today. A few phone calls, some translation from English to German, German to Turkçe, Turkçe to English, and we had a crowd gathered in the street…most of them on the phone, calling someone else to help.

IMG_3046reduced.JPG Our Local Hangout

I realize that being the “Yabanci” might have impelled some financial interest (this Amerkian is Çok Fakır)…but the overall effort was one to help. There was an issue of pride involved here. Maybe, we could all get what we needed, me… a bathroom that worked, they… some money to pay the bills…and all of us… able to move on down the road a bit.
But there was more to it than that. In my limited Turkish ability I understood one of my friends telling one of the tile guys, “do this job as if you were doing it for a Turk”…another friend said to me…”we stand under these men…if they mess up…we will fix it”.
Will there be some issues with this repair work? Certainly. Will there be some cost overruns? Probably. Will things be a bit different than I want? Yep. But, would I have experienced this “sense of community” and willingness to be involved in Southern California? No. Why? I watched my kids play with the kids of those who are going to do the work, I watched them run and laugh and drink cola together. I see these people (most of them anyway) daily, we smile and wave as we pass their apartments and shops. But more importantly, there was a sense of honor among those today who were part of the process. I trust them.
So, this Yabanci is impressed with the ways of the Turks. It made me wonder if I have really taken the time to make the foreigner in my own country feel this welcome and accepted. Ahhh…these Turks……I love them.

5 Comments so far

  1. seyda (unregistered) on July 17th, 2006 @ 8:57 pm

    glad you have it so good over there. the tiny one-tree-park looks very nice. where exactly is this place? which district do you live in?

  2. Stan Steward (unregistered) on July 17th, 2006 @ 11:15 pm


    We live in Kazasker….just off Minibus Yolu. This little park is next to Kazasker Camii.

  3. Sven Holmström (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 8:05 am

    I just love Kazasker, but it’s a rather surprising place for a foreigner to move to as the first adress. It’s not very crowded with foreigners, right?

    It is a bit far from Taksim, (and even much,much further from my workplace!) but even regarding that it would be one of my places of choice, where I to move again.

  4. Stan Steward (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 8:53 am

    We chose Kazasker because of its lack of foreigners and English speakers. We want to learn the language and that is hard to do if you have E speakers all around you.
    We will be moving a bit west of here in a few weeks towards Kosuyolu…our contract is up and we had to find a new place. We will miss it.

  5. Carrie (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 5:49 pm

    Your posting brought tears to my eyes (literally) as I imagined the sense of community that you described, and wished I could be there to experience it myself. You are absolutely right….in SD you will never find such people. Thank you for your posts and your encouragement to make us think how we treat foreigners in the U.S. It confirms that I am doing the right thing in befriending and reaching out to a refugee family from Iran whom I met several months ago.

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