Crispy, cold day in Bursa. You can almost see beyond the mountains. This is the view from the hotel that I think I’m leaving today.
I have tried to post some videos of my classes the last two days, but my internet connection is slow here in the Ötel Açelya. I’ll have to wait until I’m in my apartment for a faster connection (I hope). The last four days have been, at the very least, interesting.
On Thursday and Friday, I traveled 20 miles away from Bursa to a university town in Görükle to teach university students from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. The students were extremely interested in learning, but throwing me into their midest was tiring on all of us. Ride back via bus and subway was 2 hours. Really makes for a wonderful day.
The next two days, I was up at 6:00 to prepare for level 1 students (who turned out to be 10 to 15 years agewise). They were great students, but have little or no English. They are stuck with me for four hours, but we all made it. The most interesting part, for me, was that many of their parent were outside the classroom waiting to see what miracles I performed.
I don’t think I performed any, but some of the parents (after the first break), smiled at me. So, I don’t think we’re missing their expectations. The real problem is that the books they are given are for adults. Most of the kids of pretty smart, but the text book is built for adults. The school has mislaid (or whatever) the books I sent that would alleviate the problem.
What’s really fun is the teacher mix. Four Americans, two Syrians, one Ghanian, one Nigerian, one Australian, and (until today) one South African. Half of us are Turkish speakers, but I’m in the other half. The staff is Turkish and most do not speak English. It’s an interesting mix of people, but they are are helpful and considerate of us dimwits.
There is a canteen that caters to everyone that’s staffed by a couple that have figured out that very strong tea is my starter of choice.
Hopefully, by tomorrow, I’ll be in an aparment. Forgive me for putting all of this down as stream of thought, but it helps me figure out what’s what.
As it develops . . .
I FOUND A SANDWICH SHOP! I know it doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re cast adrift a long, long way from Subway, there’s reason to celebrate. It was not another kófte (see previous) nor another red meat oriented something, but a real sandwich, sort of.
What was fun was the interaction between me and the shop owner. As usual these days, I pointed at what I hoped was a sandwich on his outside menu board and he asked a couple of questions to which I had no answers – having no ear for what he asked – I just grunted. Apparently, sounding like a pig gets you what you want.
He insisted that I closely observe his sandwich assembly process – which I did. He explained the process in detail (and I have no idea what he said). First, cut half of a loaf off, split it, and grill it in a press. Then, he pushed the bread against his spit to absorb some of the juices, shaved some of the meat off and put it on the bread. Layered a tomato, cucumber, onion mix on and topped with mayo and a red sauce. Put the whole thing back in the press and voila – sandwich. He packed in two pieces of wrap and handed it to me. Sent me away for 2.4 L (about a $1)
I believe this is the first time that I’ve registered a mobile phone in another country. When we lived in London, there were no mobile phones. When I’ve lived in China, I just bought a cheap phone and that was it. Here, possessed of an unlocked ATT phone, I decided to go the distance – and a distance it was.
First, to the tax office to register the phone and pay the whatever tax 120 TL. Then, to a TurkCell bistro to buy a SIM card. 60 TL. Back to the tax office to register the SIM 0 TL. So, for roughly $90.00 I have an iPhone that’s probably good for the next year. If not, I can buy more time for $10.00.
Come to your own conclusions. Of course, in the US, we need landlines to run our fax machines. And, I need a crank to start my car. (Don’t anyone touch that.)
This is Portkalli Ifmik Helvasi, or, if you prefer, durum wheat mixed with oranges and honey. An end to many meals.
An esoteric observation: Those who have lived in another culture have that moment of “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Todo.” And, even after living in several different countries and cities around the globe, that feeling hit today.
I’m not quite sure how to describe it, but it’s a feeling of helplessness (it does pass). You get tired of pointing at things on a menu; you get tired of struggling to do simple things; you get tired of not actually knowing where you are and/or how to get where you want to go. Everything smells different (not bad, just different). (Trust me, this even happens in Washington, DC – or Jonesboro?)
The light is different, the sounds are different. But then, all of a sudden, you’re there. You know which bus takes you to where you want to go, which street connects to which street, what to order at the restaurant, where to find things. OK, I’m through. But really, it does even happen in DC. Thoughts?
How was I to know that there was more than one hometown food? İskender kebap is one of the most famous meat foods of NW Turkey and takes its name from its inventor (I didn’t know you could invent food?), İskender Efendi, who lived in Bursa in the 19th century.
It is a kind of döner kebab prepared from thinly cut grilled lamb basted with hot tomato sauce over pieces of pita bread and generously slathered with melted sheep butter and yogurt. It’s served with Şıra or sira—a no…