Me and the damn cat had an interesting one-sided conversation. Click here to get to it.
In our travels we see incredible countries that are historical and welcoming; yet people are what makes this World great. Without people, the World may be beautiful but boring.
So, let’s talk about a few of them. These are the good people who come to our office twice a week to clean.
Nadjia – During the Halloween celebrations at the Embassy, she posed near some of the decorations so a friend could photograph her. So, I pulled my phone out to take some also. The one below is her with Camal. Then with her and Yousef. These images perfectly portray her innocence and love of Life. Only a very few times have I seen her quiet, which was usually because she was tired or feeling ill. She works 5 days a week at the Embassy, and the weekends cleaning other places, plus finding time going to school to learn English. If you ask me, she is more a success than a great many people in the States. Even among some of the arrogant American Foreign Service officers.
As I told you before how she learned the term, “See you later, alligator.” Followed with her learning the response, “After while, crocodile.” Recently, she learned to say, “Okey Dokey.” Except her rendition is “Oinky Doinky.”
Camal – Camal is quiet and friendly, yet I see where Nadjia irritates him at times, because she is so light-hearted while he is serious. She sings while she works and he mutters to her in Turkish. She just smiles and continues singing. Once Camal noticed I had cigars in a box on my desk, he asked for a couple for him and his friends. I obliged. The next Monday, he told me they were too strong and he didn’t want anymore. But I still offer to him at times.
Yousef – As Camal moved on to other cleaning jobs, Yousef took his place. Very quiet and extremely polite. He always smiles at me and I greet him whenever I see him. “Günaydın, Yousef Bey.” (Good Morning, Yousef, Sir.)
One of finest Turkish men I have met, is Fekrit Calim. He is the father of one of our Turkish Technicians, Aydin. Often when we go to Istanbul or Adana to work, he will come with us as they have relatives all over. He is one of those people who you want to stand when they arrive. He’s only 11 years older than me, but I show him the respect that is given for the revered elderly. Below is him sitting with Aydin.
I gave him the excuse of my mother being 900 years old and loves the pictures I send. He was delighted to oblige. The man speaks excellent English. Started learning it as a kid while working with the Intelligence agencies, cleaning their barracks. He has a good assortment of stories to tell.
About a month ago, one of the cats on the Embassy grounds scratch a kid, thus prompting calls for their ouster. (cats, not the kids) Most likely, the kid had it coming, because the cats maybe a little leery of us, but they are non-threatening. Below is a image I thought was worth posting. Management said to quit feeding the feral cats. As a friend said, they obviously do not know the meaning of feral.
Terese went with me to work on the G20 Summit down in Antalya and on the way back, we decided to stop and purchase some potatoes and onions from one of the many roadside vendors. We purchase a bag each for a total of 30 TL, which is about $10.50. Split it up and gave some to Serkan and Allison.
Last night two events took place that required my attendance. Savas Uyar, one of my Turkish security techs married a pretty Ukrainian girl, named Vita; and at the same time the 2015 Marine Ball was commencing. So, I attended the wedding first, which as with all Turkish weddings, is a simple process. The bride and groom enter the Nikay Salonu, (Wedding Hall) and sit at an elaborate table with the female facilitator and the two witnesses. The facilitator speaks a few minutes to the audience, causing a bit of laughter, so I laugh along with them not knowing what was said. Then she asks the bride something who responds, Evete (yes). Then realizing she needed to speak louder, Vita leaned into the microphone and again, with a little more voice, Evete!
Then it was Savas’ turn. The facilitator asked him something and he leaned toward the mike and stated, very loudly, EVETE!! And everyone erupts in applause! At this point, the Facilitator has Savas and Vita sign a large book, and then passes it on to the witnesses to sign. Afterwards, the facilitator turns to Vita and tells her something unusual to an American wedding. I was sitting next to a very interesting gentleman I have met several times, who speaks incredibly good English. He leaned over to me and said, the facilitator told Vita, that her last name has been changed and she is now Vita Uyar.
This was the second Turkish wedding I have attended and found it interesting that during the whole process, from entrance to the concluding processional, there are several people moving about taking pictures, even close-ups, sometimes just a foot away from the couple.
After the ceremony, the couple stands outside the chapel and the hand-shaking and congratulations take place. This is followed by cake, singing, dancing and yes, drinking. … and all is right with the world!
This was the 240th Marine Ball and the fourth we have had the pleasure of attending. I didn’t get but a very few pics of it, since I just mostly sat and visited with the people at our table. But below is a picture of one of the Marines who was the Master of Ceremony, and one of the several dishes provided.
We were eagerly awaiting the Oktoberfest celebration but the week before, the horrible attack on the peace-protest at the train station in Ankara took place. The German Embassy decided that it would be inappropriate to have a celebration the following weekend. Also, Andrea Merkal arrived to pay her respect which consumes resources.
My boss was in the States for about 6 weeks leaving me to be the man of the house. Finally, after his return, Terese and I took a trip down to Antalya with two other couples. One of them was the couple whose wedding we attended last year. She is an American and he is a Turk. The resort we stayed at was one of those which has everything inclusive. Pay for nothing except the initial daily fee. It was expensive, but we needed to get away for a few days.
Now, the interesting part of this story is the Turk who married the American. His name is Serkan. Her name is Allison. Full of energy, he cannot sit still more than 60 seconds. He speaks so rapidly and often, I swear I lose weight standing next to him. So, what I will do is post several pictures taken during the few days to get a better idea of his personality. The first is him with Allison.
The other couple are interesting people. Arturo and Rill. Friendly and easy to laugh with. I don’t know who’s worse, Terese corrupting Rill, or Rill corrupting Terese? But as a group of three couples, there was always something to laugh at. Especially with Serkan around.
The last night at the resort, I was joined by Serkan and Rill as I enjoyed my cigar.
Serkan is one of those rare individuals who wants to stop and talk with everyone. Allison told me if he sees a flock of sheep near the side of the road, Serkan will stop and visit with the shepherd. So on the way home, when we took a rest top near an apple company, Serkan and Allison saw mounts of apples in the distance and went to investigate.
As we continue on our return home, Serkan found a small town on the side of the mountain that looked like it had some interesting things, so he decided to stop. I was able to get some beautiful shots of Turkey. Notice the aqueduct in the distance on the first one.
At one point, Serkan stopped to ask an old man about the street ahead, and the two carried on a conversation. Afterwards, the old man gave us a couple of berries as a gift. May sound silly to us, but to him he was giving us a bit of the town and himself.
As we continued home, we stopped at a small cafe along the road and had chai. Terese sat down and some little cat knew right away she is a good woman and jumped in her lap.
Turkey is an amazing country with incredible resources. But one thing this country suffers from, is the careless way its people treats it. Below is the garbage that was thrown out. This not an isolated instance. It is everywhere. We can look out from our apartment window and see trash strewn all over the area. I have seen a car pull up to a curb near some trees, and open his doors and toss out all the trash in the vehicle and drive off. It’s sad to see this.
As you travel along the highways, even small farm roads, you will see stands selling the local produce. A lot of produce. At some places, these stands were less than a mile apart. We decided to stop and get a pumpkin for Halloween, and I had to take a few pictures of these amazing places.
I will forever be moved by the beauty of this country and all it encompasses. I was not expecting its people to be so friendly and helpful. They will give you anything you need with a smile. And they will always take compensation, but not without a smile and a heartfelt thank you. Just like every country I have set foot on, I take a bit of it away with me. We placed our bid for our next post and look forward to finding out where we will be placed.
One more thing to say. It was one evening that we were all sitting and eating, that Serkan commented about some answer to a test he took in the States this past summer. What I didn’t realize, though everyone else did, he took the Citizenship test and is now a US Citizen! My respect was already high for this man, and now it has been elevated. I am truly glad he is a friend of ours. He considers himself not only American, but also a Texan, plus I think I got him voting Republican, perhaps to Allison’s chagrin.
Serkan, I plan to stay in touch with you the remainder of my life. Stay genuinely happy, and since you are now a Texan, don’t hesitate to kick butt. D.