What Fascinates Us About Life In Turkey? Here’s Just One Aspect…

We just want to tell you a little story today. It’s a true story. A little snippet of our life in Turkey. It happened a few years ago, when we first moved to Turkey and, ever since then, it’s been something that has happened repeatedly and has fascinated us.

Let us tell you our little story…

We’re in Istanbul with a Turkish friend who has done lots of growing up around the Beyoğlu and Taksim area. She prides herself on her knowledge of all Beyoğlu’s nooks and crannies and decides to lead us off down some alleyways to one of ‘her bars.’ Not the sort of place you’d stumble across on your own…

She opens the door of the bar – if the bar has a name, it escapes us – and we enter into this tiny, smoky black-walled room. Aside from the long-haired Alice Cooper lookalike behind the bar, there’s one other guy in there as well as us and the bar is practically full. It is that small.

Istiklal Tram, Istanbul

Istiklal Caddesi in Istanbul has lots of hidden alleyways

Our friend introduces us to the guy. Let’s call him Piers. Piers barely looks at us – just a vague nod – and proceeds to speak to our friend in wonderfully fluent Turkish. We’re invisible. It’s almost a Heart Of Darkness “Doctor Livingstone, I presume,” moment. We’ve got no idea where we are. The ridiculously crowded Istiklal Caddesi can only be a stone’s throw away and yet we feel a million miles away from any sort of civilisation, stood with a guy who is truly living the part of having ‘gone native.’ This is a guy who does not want to be chatting to two English people in this little cubbyhole of a bar. We’ve infiltrated his space.

“Speak English to me then I can practise my English,” says our friend to Piers.

“I’ve forgotten my English,” he replies to her in Turkish and continues his tale in Turkish. He then looks to us and half acknowledges our existence. “I’ve forgotten my English,” he says to us, in English, completely straight-faced. “I’ve lived in Turkey a long time.” And he turns away again, chatting.

“Oh, right.” Not sure if we’re supposed to be impressed by this and expand by asking him lots of questions…but we just reply with, “Oh, right.” He’s turned away from us, anyway. We continue drinking our beers in invisibility, planning a sharp exit as soon as we empty our glasses.

And then our friend nods over to us as she’s chatting. One of those nods where you know you’re being talked about. Piers suddenly swings round with a big beaming smile and a pat on our shoulder.

“Oh, I’m really sorry guys,” he says in English. “I didn’t realise you lived here. I thought you were just a couple of tourists.”

Piers spends the next few minutes being very friendly, giving us a brief synopsis of his life and how he came to be in Turkey whilst we proceed to drain the beer from our glasses. As soon as we’re finished, we smile politely, say our goodbyes and make our exit.

Similar situations to this have happened throughout our life in Turkey…and we’ll leave you to make up your own mind about what we find so fascinating about it all…

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  1. I think we’ve all got one of those defining moments. Mine was also in Istanbul – different smoky room, different crowd, similar experience.

  2. . . in one sense I understand, J and I didn’t move to Turkey to spend our life amongst ‘foreigners’ and expats. That said, to ignore or dismiss someone stood in front of you is utterly boorish! At least try and find out whether they might be interesting/have some qualities you can appreciate, before displaying the sort of arrogance that is ‘Piers’ forte.

    • Yeah, we moved to Turkey for similar reasons but everyone is worth your time, if just to find a bit out about them. THEN we can decide whether they’re worth our time or not. 🙂 We find it amusing, these days. 🙂

  3. Piers sounds a prat. I hope he reads this.

  4. He sounds like a twat.

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