Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 1: Still Alıve

Johnny and I took the same flight in to Ankara from Munich.  The meal for this 2.5 hour flight was stupendous and took at least half of the flight to consume.  The whole thing was presented rather well including little shrimp in the side salad and some sort of basil-tasting polenta with the beef.  As always you could wash it down with wine if you felt the urge.  Not bad for a flight short enough to not feature beverage service on US domestic flights.  I have no idea how much this adds to the cost of the ticket because Pitzer paid for it.  Thanks, Pitzer.
After arriving in Ankara, we met with Ibrahim, our program coordinator.  We took a bus with him into city center, where we split up.  Johnny went with Ibrahim’s assistant to his host family’s restaurant, “Fantastik Burger” and I took a taxi with Ibrahim to my host family.  We said hello, and Ibrahim quickly determined that my host mother and father do not speak a word of English.  He left me with something like “The first few days will be a little hairy, but it will get better after that.”  I was glad that I had learned about 30 words of Turkish through some language tapes.  Good (which I later found out I was usıng incorrectly), yes and no and eat (a surprise) came in rather handy.  We aren’t communicating effectively yet, but at least we have been able to convey major themes.
My host family seems rather nice.  After I got in, my host father took me to a telephone store-ish thing to get a calling card and to call my family.  He made it into one of those “I’ll point and say the name” things, which is fine, but I’m not sure if I remember any of the words he said.  I don’t really know their names yet either.  My host mother is named Anur (I only know this because I had it written down) and my host father told me his name, but it was between the word for mosque and the word for sausage, and I started to get confused.  The neighborhood looks nice – rather vibrant.  We ate dinner after we got back.  I think I could get used to Turkish cooking.  It seems more Eastern European than Middle Eastern, but I can’t complain.  My host father told me the words for fork, spoon, soup and bowl, none of which I can remember.  Then we watched some television.
Let me just say that I could really get into Turkish news, at least on the station we were watching.  My views of the stories might be a little skewed, since I didn’t know what they were saying but here are some I can remember.
·         Overweight transvestite sings the call to worship for an apparently edgy mosque.  Turks seem to have mixed opinions, but I am basing that statement from the fact that some of them were smiling and some of them were frowning when interviewed.  It could be that some are naturally happy and some are naturally surly.
·         A boy either gets stuck in a pot, has a pot for his legs, or his father attempted to make him into a soup and the paramedics had to save him.  It was riveting no matter what happened.
·         People keep getting in car crashes.  To illustrate that point, the news played clips of the ten most gruesome car accidents they could find over and over again in slow motion.  I can say from my hour of Ankara traffic experience that Turkish traffic looks a bit like a school of fish.  Most people drive in the same direction, but few of them are following what I assume are the traffic laws.
There also appears to be a Turkish game show in which contestants are given a string of numbers and have to use basic operations on them to form the last number in the set.  I’m a fan.


  1. Keep it coming. Feel like I'm there with you.

  2. David, I laughed and laughed at your description of Turkish television. I would travel to Turkey just to experience that moment for myself! Good luck with the language barrier! When I am in Israel I will face north-northwest periodically and wave.