Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cell Phone, Television and Conspiracies

Well, the cell phone is finally working. It turns out that though Avea may not have the best service, the phone was not working properly. I went back to the same guy that sold the phone and told him “Service is non-existent.” He tried to fix it for a while, then said something involving an hour, which I assumed meant that I was supposed to take the phone home, wait an hour and activate it. When I headed to the door he started yelling at me, so turned back. As it turned out, he wanted the phone for the hour, so I went to sit in the park in the town center. The park was great; I sat next to a giant statue of Ataturk, and men came by with carafes yelling at me and insisting that I wanted tea (tea is a Turkish compulsion, as I will surely explain later). When I got back, the guy had fixed the phone and even offered to setup my prepaid phone card (which was rather helpful, as the voice menu was in Turkish). Then he asked me something which I thought was “Do you want to contact people in America with this phone?” to which I thought I replied “Yes, but Turkey too.” I think what I actually did was turn down his offer to set my phone back into English. This time, it only took 15 minutes to figure out how to change the language and now I have an almost working phone. If you want to waste a lot of money, contact me and I’ll give you the number.

I’ve stopped watching so much television at night with my family now that I have quite a lot of Turkish to study (by family, I mean my host mother, since my host mother and my host father watch televisions in opposite sides of the house). The two shows I have seen a lot of are the ones that play at breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is dominated by what I can only assume is the Turkish equivalent of Oprah. Usually, the host (who is stunningly beautiful, yet in an accessible way) is sitting next to a crying teenage girl. People call in and yell at the crying teenage girl, making her cry more. Sometimes people in the audience take turns yelling at the girl, but by and large the audience is crying or stoically clapping. Sometimes someone in the audience (a relative of the girl?) comes and hugs the girl. The host serves as some sort of moderator in the whole crying/yelling process. I have yet to figure out exactly why the girls are crying, but I think the issue has something to do with the girls having loose morals or something. The girls are never veiled, whereas half of the female members of the audience are veiled (in Ankara, it bears mentioning, nobody under 50 is veiled). The people who call up talk about God a lot, but I have yet to figure out if this is rhetorical, or they are talking about GOD. The show is only fair as far as entertainment value for people that don’t speak Turkish, but it is still fun to watch.

The dinner show is harder to understand, but people are clearly cooking for a small group of people they know. Some members of our exchange group suspected that the people take turns cooking for a week and a prize is awarded on Friday. The rotating characters each week was confirmed by a Turk with limited English, but she got confused when we asked if there was a prize. Apparently, the cooking group insults the food of their fellow cooks, though I am still not sure why this is. There is also this reoccurring cowboy hat that everyone seems to wear at times, but some characters wear more than others.

I also watched the Turkish version of America’s Got Talent, which I can roughly translate to You Exude Talent, Turkey. The talent was pretty good, but the show had a nasty habit of bringing on young, lack-luster but adorable contestants and then voting them off because they were not very good.

I went to the Anatolian Civilization museum and the Ankara citadel. They were nice but not in the way that makes for entertaining writing. There was this one woman we ran into on the way to the citadel that claimed that NATO had destroyed the real historical sites in the area after World War II (which reportedly was a fight between Anglo and German Protestants, apparently without the Russians, Italians or Japanese). She kept confusing the English words for building and people and also kept changing her mind on whether Jews and Armenians are great or abhorrent (It seemed to depend on the time period, both were better before WWII, but she admitted there are still good Jews and Armenians now). She apologized for her country for making us visit the conspiracy museum instead of the people’s museum, and we went off.

In other news, I found a tapestry thing with my host parents names on it. They are Aynur and Ömer.

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