Invincible touristhunters

My father is a huge man in a coat who is talented making kids not throw balls of paper while teaching them math and cutting down trees (he is also very talented in a lot of other things, but that’s beside the point). When walking somewhere in Sultan Ahmet or Eminönü or somewhere in between there is this subset of people whose mind immidiately starts working in a very specific way when they the sight of him: “Swedish or German, Swedish or German, Swedish or German.”

Somehow – and I tell you I would be glad to know how – they usually comes up with Swedish. And of course they know Swedish, not only do they know the names of their stock in Swedish, they also know common Swedish expressions, names of small cities, even archetypes of people from different regions and names of specific stores.

And even if I really dislike people jumping on me for selling cheap perfume I can’t avoid being flattered. That is the point of course. If I ever will buy cheap perfume on the street it will be from someone who know my silly, small, small language.

It has been really wonderful to guide my parents in İstanbul this last week (and I have a couple of days left) when not working. As long as the transportation problems can be solved (my parents don’t do as well in a crowded minibus as I do, but taxi is really affordable here) it’s the easiest job on the planet.

If you live here, try it: Just go anywhere and see to it that the strangers of your choice are following you and you will here these ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from behind you until they get too hungry. Then just eat what you usually eat while living here and they’ll think you are the greatest guide.

So I have the easy part. Learning parts of twenty languages to be able to sell cheap perfume, that’s a tough line of work.

2 Comments so far

  1. Flavio (unregistered) on March 16th, 2006 @ 9:34 am

    I don’t have the same problem. Being a latino helps me in many ways, cuz they also ask me “aren’t you turkish??!?”. Nope. And the only reference they know about Brazil is soccer, samba, soccer, soccer and soccer. It’s strange, anyway, cuz the only ones who can spot me from 1km and who guess thar I am a foreigner are those guys in Taksim, who offer those great night clubs with half-naked belly dancers where a beer can cost 500 YTL.

  2. Sven Holmström (unregistered) on March 16th, 2006 @ 9:40 am

    Those guys in Taksim are after me too. In the bazaars I at least blend in much, much better than my father. When at Taksim alone I never get offers to buy cheap perfume, but these guys found my father even there. When I’m in Taksim they just want to take me to these places with these slightly overpriced beers.

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