Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Return Home

This past Friday, I invited myself over to my host parent’s house. Inviting oneself for a visit is a common element of Turkish social life. As long as you give enough warning for your hosts to make themselves presentable and such, you can come over whenever you want. This makes me extremely anxious. American hospitality puts an emphasis on being a good guest by not overly-inconvenience the host, so I asked my host father on the phone what day or time was best for visiting. His answer was “any day or time is good, just call before you come by,” as I expected. I decided to stop over on Friday at dinner time, but still felling unnecessary guilt for potentially picking a bad time, I picked some baklava up on the way over (suggested by Esra, my host student at METU). As directed by multiple guide books, I made no mention of it upon arriving and dropped it off on the kitchen table. Turns out my host mother already made rice pudding, but I guess you can’t win all the time.

As with most families, not much had changed in three weeks. It appears Cihan and his family are still living in the house. Everyone reports to be doing well. Cihan seemed a little stressed out about something involving a university (I couldn’t quite follow the conversation). He also seems glum about his growing paunch, or at least became so after he weighed himself and, assuming he weighed less than me, over-guessed my weight by 15 kilograms.

My host father and I chatted a bit about the coup trials taking place in Turkey. For a short summary (I should give a longer one in another post), the widely-loved military had drafted plans to overthrow the current government. Because they have not been very secular, the current government has probably done enough to deserve this (despite some reasonable governing) and there is historical precedent for such a coup. The government appropriately doesn’t like the idea of being overthrown and coups aren’t exactly legal, so they brought about 40 generals to trial. Many people, and especially old secularists like my host father are furious about this, and see it as another example of the current administration overthrowing everything sacred in the government. On the other hand, semi-legitimate and frequent coups are part of why Turkey is not joining the EU anytime soon.

Kaan, who is undoubtedly the most popular character in my blog posts, (did I mention that Kan means blood and is not my host-nephew’s name?) was his usual baby self. He started crying hysterically when he first saw me, though we made amends over the course of the night. He can now stand by holding onto a wall, but he hasn’t quite figured out crawling. His newest toy is a plastic silver bull with an ethnic (south Asian?) boy playing a flute on top. The bull walks to a repetitious techno soundtrack while the boy swings on top. To top things off, the bull’s eyes have red LEDs inside, giving the whole toy a demonic overtone. To say that the toy is age-inappropriate is missing the key issue. I can think of no reason why such a toy exists. It is a plastic Frankenstein of thematic elements, but at least it won’t suffocate Kaan or give him seizures as I feared previous toys would.

So in summary, my host family seems to be getting along just fine without me. Not that I had any concerns (save for someone accidentally killing Kaan).

No comments:

Post a Comment