You know you are settling in well in your new town when you have 1. found your waxing lady and 2. found your favorite butcher! (they both respectively know not to cock my eyebrows and how small I want my meat chopped.)
I’m not one to fall in love easily. Never have been. So its no big deal that I haven’t fallen in love with Istanbul yet. However I am slowly re-establishing my bearings and I now know which way the metro station is and in which direction the supermarket is and by taking down which exact street I will reach my apartment in the quickest time. I am also picking up Turkish slowly. Why only yesterday I purchased a new (ucuz telefon!) mobile and completed the entire sale transaction in Turkish (without any translation or help) and the Indian in me also managed to score a 10TL discount. After which my language confidence came crashing down when I nearly missed my stop and the bus doors closed. All my Turkish flew out of my brains and I heard myself (cringe*) shout “stopp..how do I get out” and then I had like 5 people shouting at the poor driver to stop and let me off! I didn’t turn around to see but I’m pretty sure half the bus were shaking their head and clicking their tongues at the stupid yabancı. Oh well. But it is getting better.
Languages are these beautiful tools we have or can acquire that help us build bridges to other people. One thing that’s been helping me immensely in the last couple of weeks is my own language. There are so many words in the Turkish language that are the same as Hindi words. Not only this helps me understand what people are conversing about at times but it has also helped me become a better teacher when trying hard to explain a new vocab. When setting off to teach English, I was so concerned about having the basics right of the English language that I forgot that perhaps my own mother tongue might be a tool I could use!
I also at this stage can’t say that I’ve fallen in love with teaching. I really enjoy some of my classes but then some are just as equally painful. Life as an English teacher…as the Turkish like to say..its still so-so. (more in the next post)
So yeah. I am slowly settling in in this wonderful eastern european city. It hasn’t been easy especially the first 2 weeks were extremely difficult. Difficult as in I-would-go-to-bathroom-every-hour-and-ball-my eyes-out difficult. It felt like I had made this huge terrible mistake for taking this trip. Like I mentioned earlier that my apartment wasn’t ready so I had to stay in some not so glamorous places. It was really cold and for 3 days I went to sleep fully clothed and with my jacket on because there were no quilts but only 2 thin sheets. I had caught a cold and life was just miserable and I had to travel for like an 1 hour to reach my school. There were also some issues not worth writing about of which when I made a fuss about it, it got taken in the wrong way and by the time the news got passed on to the janitor of the building, I was already in the ‘don’t like’ category.
But then my apartment suddenly got ready and I was moved. Someone had bought new sheets for me and they were pink and floral. How appropriate. And as I sat on my old bed with new sheets, I breathed for the first time in weeks. The next day the weather became warmer and suddenly it was spring! My cough got better, my teaching schedules got fixed, I had my students laughing and talking in English, the branch manager began smiling and telling me that green suited me very well and suddenly it made sense. All the planning and running around and the crying. It made sense. In the past couple of years, I had grown ultra confident, sure and set in who I was. Suddenly everything I thought I was, I wasn’t. I was getting lost, I was bloody crying in toilets and questioning my decisions. Sometimes we become too set or too confident in who we are or who we think we are. I had stopped challenging myself, pushing myself to become better. And when we get like that, the only way to help ourselves is not to get a nudge or a little push, the only way is, to jump off the cliff.
And I have jumped.
I leave you with a photo of the most beautiful place in Istanbul; my own balcony that my room opens out to!