Its coming up to nearly 2 months since I’ve been in Turkey. I was walking back from the grocery store the other day when a seemingly astray young girl halted in front of me to ask for directions in Turkish. Of course my Turkish still sucks but I could tell that she wanted to know where the metrobus station was and how to get to the next suburb. I replied, “Pardon, no Turkish..” She grabbed both my hands and apologized profusely for the gaffe. In turn, I took both her hands and spoke very calmly..”no problem…but I understand..metrobus that way…” and with mixture of hand gestures, some Turkish vocabs and English, I was able to give her directions. I could see her calm down and slightly relived. She thanked again and went on her way and I went home. And that is how you know you now fit in and belong to your hood.
Hence its now okay to say that I’m kinda settled in, really. However for the past one week, I have this unsettling feeling that something is not right. Like I’m missing something. I’m floating around it but I just can’t seem to point my finger to it. Usually when I’m like this, I would head out to my favorite coffee shop for my ‘fix’. A latte and a slice of carrot cake (with cream cheese frosting only). However Turkey is a cay(tea) country and their coffee is…horrendous. Closest thing is Starbucks and I don’t like Starbucks. So I couldn’t go out for a fix and sort this feeling out. That’s the problem with habits. We get so attached to the ritual that we feel we can’t operate normally if we miss it. Since moving to Turkey, most of my habits have just..changed. Probably the biggest one is…I’m no longer a toilet reader! (perhaps that is because the apartment bathroom is a shit of a place (pun!). I think my entire family will rejoice at this information as they could never understand the habit.
One habit that hasn’t changed is talking to my younger sister everyday. Talk equals fb/twitter/whatsapp/skype. You know that one person you tell everything that happened during the day? She’s my person. So even when my person can’t solve this unsettled feeling for me, I got worried…
As I was sitting in the classroom, twirling my pen and waiting for the students to finish activity no.4, questions 1 – 8, The penny dropped. I didn’t know what I was doing! I mean yes, I was in class but what was I really doing? Of course, I have settled in in the hood, I am traveling to beautiful places around the country but WHAT was I really doing? Yes, I had packed and left for a RTW trip. I am currently teaching in Turkey. Life is good. BUT…..what now?
What I was missing was a List. I’m a serial list-writer.”Things to do.” You would’ve found slips of paper everywhere in my room, work or kitchen with the words “Things to Do” on top back home and now ever since coming to Istanbul – I had not made one single list! No wonder I was unsettled. I didn’t have a set of things to work through. There were no deadlines. No items to tick off. No satisfactory sense of that big bold stroke.
So straight after class, I headed off to my nearest Haci Sayid and parked myself at a corner booth, ordered cay and bakalava and wrote my heart out. 2 hours and 3 cays later, I had my list. Habits help define you. Just because I’m no longer a member of the BB-carrying corporate community doesn’t mean I have to stop doing things that make me me. Sometimes when we move, we feel that we must leave things we used to do behind as well. You can obviously do that but beware habits are like those fb stalkers; no matter how many privacy barriers you put – they’ll find a way back to you!
And this is one stalker, I am glad to have back. With a healthy stack of lists to work through, the feeling in my stomach is gone and my balance restored.