“Your friend is very beautiful.”
It probably wasn’t the smartest thing for a vendor at the Grand Bazaar to say. Fortunately for him, he had already closed the deal, and he was wrapping up my roommate’s bowls. She looked at me and begrudgingly agreed. I shifted uncomfortably.
We had already passed the stand three times. On our previous visit, he whispered that he would give us a discount. As we walked away, he told me I had “the most beautiful eyes.” What can I say? It worked. We came back. He also had the cheapest bowls available at the time.
I have been informed that my friends are beautiful. Then there’s this slow realization by both the speaker and the listener of what was actually said. It’s soon followed up by a mildly insincere “You’re beautiful, too.” I hate it. This time, I was the “beautiful friend.” I still hated it. At least we got a decent deal on some beautiful ceramic bowls.
My roommate did tell me tonight that I would make a “lovely fish.” The Turkish language has an interesting adjective to describe people that are a bit “pudgy.” They call them “balık etli – fish meaty.” (Forgive the unrefined translation.) My host made a lot of food this evening, and I’ve been giving him a hard time by saying he’s been trying to turn my figure into fish meat. “What’s wrong with that?” he asked. Nothing. Nothing at all. I’m happy to return to New York City as a fish.
I’ve become a mosquito ninja. Every night one or two come into my room and feast on my flesh. I invariably wake up some time during the night/early morning and try to end their smorgasbord. I get them eventually and am always surprised at how much blood they’ve taken from me.
Turkish lessons are going well – especially since we got a new teacher on Monday. We’re really behind, but she’s been doing a good job of catching us up over the last few days. My last teacher was probably the worst language teacher I’ve ever had. I hope she has a nice, long vacation.
It’s challenging, though. I feel like I’m just starting to get a grasp of the language and really put 80% of a proper sentence together. I see the progress that I’m making, and I don’t want to stop.
My brain has been getting its exercise this summer. There’s a Spanish student in my class, so I practice Spanish with him. I talk to my Bulgarian friends on Skype, so I also get to practice my Bulgarian. I had to call a Bulgarian bank the other day and cancel a debit card. It surprised me that a few Turkish words came out.
I’d be fascinated to know what kind of hoops my brain is jumping through to categorize the foreign words in my head. When I try to think of a Turkish word in another language besides English, the Spanish usually comes to mind. I struggle to remember the Bulgarian word. I’m not sure why that is. I know that, when I was learning Bulgarian, I had a really hard time recalling Spanish words. I’m wondering if my brain conveniently sets aside the most recent foreign language that I’ve learned. Of course, I have no basis for this hypothesis. It’s just curious how my mind works. My only regret is that I never became adept at French. A lot of my classmates speak it, and I understand what they’re saying, but I can’t respond.
I’ve still been getting out and about when I can. I’ve taken boat rides up the Bosphorus, between the Marmara and Black Seas. I’ve explored new mosques. I’ve gone to nightclubs with the best music. I’ve visited the Istanbul Modern and seen this exhibit. I’ve checked out antique bazaars. I’ve walked more over the past month and I half than in recent memory.
I’m still teaching English twice a week. If I can help it, I tend to give the kids lots of worksheets to complete during class. It seems to help them stay focused and on track. Otherwise, they bounce off the walls when I try to explain concepts or play a game with them.
Sleep beckons me. Maybe another post will follow later.