On Friday night, I went to my cell-phone carrier store to add more data and minutes to my phone. This was one of those moments when the collision of new and old was utterly striking. Everyone has a cell phone here. Everyone. The little 8 year old kids in the worst part of town. The teyze’s at the bus stop selling bread. Despite the ubiquity, you can’t just pay for a contract or get automatic payments set up. Instead you must physically visit the store each month to reload your plan. You must also visit the store on the exact day that your previous plan ends, and even, I was told on Friday, at the exact same time (my time happens to be 10:30am) or they will charge you extra. So I renewed my plan for Nov 21-Dec 21 and paid extra since I was 8 hours late. I was laughing the whole time in the store at myself, at my notions of convenience, and at all the surprises various cultures afford. Türkiye’ye Hoşgeldiniz.
On Saturday, I hosted a Friends-giving celebration for our Turkish friends. With the other two Americans here, we’d all decided to throw a Thanksgiving party, but we never really coordinated and so I ended up cooking everything. It was honestly pretty fun to cook for 10 hours. I love tasks 🙂 The only real stress was whether my Turkish friends would think my house was clean enough which, probably it wasn’t. But hey, I tried!
For most of our friends, this was their first Thanksgiving. We tried to give a brief rundown of the history of the holiday and then talked about how our individual families celebrated. I made a “thankful board” per Schaffner tradition and everyone (including the Americans) thought it was a noble idea. The menu: lots of slow-cooker Apple Cider, Alton Brown’s Turkey recipe, mashed potatoes, Daniel’s grandmother’s dressing recipe, green bean casserole with greek yogurt instead of cream-of-mushroom soup (AWESOME), sweet potatoes, biscuits, pumpkin cake, and apple pie. My only regret is that I didn’t make gravy. The Turkey came with all giblets (what a gross word) removed and I coudn’t figure out how to ask the butcher for just what comes inside an animal. My Turkish is still elementary. Ah well, it all turned out well and we enjoyed ourselves.
Also, in Turkey, the word for a turkey is “hindi” because the Turks historically thought that the bird came from India (Hindi is the Turkish word for Indian). When western European’s came to Turkey, they thought that the bird originated there, so they dubbed it a “turkey.” So all the “I’m eating turkey in Turkey” jokes were compounded because one of the other Fulbrighters is Indian. I ate hindi with a Hindi who called it a turkey in Turkey. Our Turkish guests could not grasp why we American’s found this so funny.