My Turkish friends got a kick out of this, so perhaps you will too…
It all started yesterday morning. I woke up and felt something different about my day. Something was going to happen. I just knew it. Now, as to what or who or when I had no clue. The air was simply filled with an unexplainable anticipation for the day’s events. So I was expectant.
I was expectant when I walked down Taksim’s Beyoglu Istiklal. Then, like so many times before, it happened: a turkish girl doing a survey stepped in front of me asking if I had a minute. I checked my watch- yeah, I had time. Usually I would have responded with a “I’m so sorry but I’m learning turkish and can’t speak very much yet.” But today was different.
Five minutes into the conversation and I realized I understood everything she was saying and participated in the survey.
Actually it wasn’t like that at all. Five minutes into the conversation and I was totally and completely lost. Not a single word was making sense. Apologetic I stop her and recite my usual excuse. I offer her a smile and a good day, and then walk away. Frustrated. But hey, at least I tried. Plus it was early, and I hadn’t had coffee yet… Forced self-talk to justify my failed attempt. C’mon girl- chin up.
But then I enter a room where at least 5 languages are being spoken- none of them English. Overwhelmed, I wanted to cry. I thought today was going to be different. A mad breakthrough. Something!!!
Seven hours later, I’ve nearly arrived at my street corner and it happens again: I’m stopped mid-stride, nearly colliding with the girl who stepped in my path. She tries to get me to take a brochure. No. No thanks. But she wouldn’t let up. So I eventually take it. Whereupon she grabs my arm and pulls me towards a building’s entrance. I try and politely loosen her grasp. But she persists and before I can even think “oh no- I’m being taken!” she somehow pushes me through the door, up 2 flights of stairs, and lands me in an office. I give a desk clerk a fake phone number and am told to sit, so I sit. I look around and plan my emergency escape route.
The room is brilliantly white. Mirrors of all sizes adorn the entire back wall. A chandelier sparkles from the ceiling. Across from me double-doors swing open and my name is called. I pick myself up and transition into the next room, as brilliant as the one I had left. The perfectly primped woman behind the desk begins to speak rapidly. I ask her to slow down. She does so graciously, and before I know it I’ve been there an hour.
Her intentions to persuade me to sign-up for a laser hair removal package were quickly dropped when I explained that I like my arm hair, so we instead had a lovely cultural exchange. We chatted about fashion. Comparing Americans and Turks. And why in the world would I color my hair brown? A knock on the door signaled her time with me was up. As I left, she commended me on my Turkish and invited me back for Turkish coffee. It was delightful.
Unable to contain myself, I giggled the entire way home.
Maybe it wasn’t what I was expecting to expect, but it was exactly what I needed after my defeat that morning and then after a day of trying to figure out peoples’ needs that I couldn’t even communicate with.
I went to bed last night reflecting on the day’s comic turn of events, thankful for Turkish breakthroughs, but more-so relieved that I didn’t get taken.