Sunday, February 5, 2012

Turkish Community

After a lazy weekend of writing emails I'd been avoiding and catching up on the million little things that get away from you over time, I decided to venture out of my purple and lime green apartment. The weather today was a stunning 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the warmest it's been in months. The sun was shining and the sky was a perfectly crystal clear blue. I took the opportunity to wander through the streets of Duzce and revel in my hometown.

Isn't it funny how sometimes, in our own cities, we stop exploring. We think we know what there is to do, where there is to go and that's that. But I always find, with a little exploration comes a little discovery. Today I discovered two new parks I'd never seen before, a great bookstore and a fabulous little bakery. This fine Sunday was the busiest I'd seen our little downtown in months. With such gorgeous weather, all the families were out strolling, pushing carriages along the sidewalks, children trying to eat ice cream as it dripped down their little winter jackets and hundreds of people outside playing backgammon, soaking up the luscious sun rays and drinking tea. Walking through Duzce's main avenue; a pedestrian only double cobble-stoned street lined with shops, cafes, restaurants, book stores and the like,  I finally felt a sense of community. Though I was alone, for the first time in a long time, I felt as though I had integrated. Like this is now a routine, that now I blend in more, now I can communicate and use the normal Turkish body language. That people don't automatically ask me where I am from.

It routinely amazes me how a small thing like non-verbal cues can alert someone to your "foreign" status. Muttering the proper greetings of hello, good-bye and thank you are the most basic. But knowing how to act when entering a store, knowing to click and nod your head upwards when you mean 'no' and knowing how to negotiate prices makes a huge difference between someone treating you like a local and a foreigner. Today, I did all the right things. I chatted with the manav owner for a while (manav=local small store where you buy your fresh produce) and the guys at the bus company now know me by name. My students greeted me on the streets. Though it may seem insignificant, these minute things add up to contribute to your sense of belonging. Knowing you act like a local makes all the difference. Today, I was a citizen of Duzce. Today, the mothers smiled at me when their children came to say hello. The shopkeepers knew me. The streets were familiar. Today was the perfect day.


  1. Oh I am so glad. I have no idea about Duzce but I am sure it is a pretty traditional place so if you felt at home today, that must have been a really nice feeling.

  2. :) It was! And as a perfect end to the day, I made a delicious fresh carrot and ginger soup! Something I'm sure you would appreciate! It was delicious!


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