2012 m. rugsėjo 9 d., sekmadienis

Antalya – heaven for the Russians

3 days in Antalya with a Turkish family. For you it may sound like a challenge, for me it was yet another experiment. When my friend Mısra invited me to come to Antalya, I decided that I really should do this. As always I was afraid of facing the traditions, but as far as I am familiar with it, I thought that my behaviour wouldn‘t be strayed too far from the Turkish path.

7 hours trip and I am enclosed in totally differnt surroundings than in Eskisehir – Mediterranean sea, palms and the mountains on the other side which finally looks so close.

Before you start to live in Turkey you should learn golden rule of this country – there are no rules, only traditions which lead every step in the daily life.

While entering the house you have always be careful where to leave shoes – outside or inside
the door. If you stumble, they may say nothing, but will start counting your negatives.
My trip started with huge Turkish breakfast which is always a challenge for me. I am used to grab yogurt or sereal and here it is like a long procession which lasts from 1 or 2 hours and sometimes becomes similar to lunch.
It was around 40 degrees in Antalya, so real life began only around 5 o‘clock. We ran thorugh Hadrian's Gate, Hıdırlık Tower, Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Mosque, Konyaaltı Beach, The Atatürk Monument at Cumhuriyet Meydanı (Republic Square), Kaleiç, Atatürk parkı, Konyaaltı Avenue and other touristic spots.

Everywhere on the way you could meet Russian tourists, it’s like small Russian island in Turkey. Turks said that they didn’t like (I analyzed Natasha’s phenomenon before) them, because they behave really rude, don’t care for the others and may keep taking pictures of one touristic object for hours, but on the other hand they adore them, because these tourists spend a lot of money and are free to try everything.

This is the reason why Antalya is not cheap. “Turkey is cheap, but in Eskisehir it is enough to have a job for one person, in Antalya, both parents should work”, economy situation here explains Mısra’s mother Saliha.

Beach park – one of the most popular party streets left vague image. These days, on September only on the weekends the streets get crowded. Anyway, at night Turkish musicians are playing for audience of two or five listeners. Intimate enough, yeah?

Comparing to Lithuania we don’t have any mountains, so what I really love about Turkey is this amazing part of nature.
Geyik bayiri was great experience of trekking, springwater and smalls cafes down in the hill. Traditional food here is Gözleme pancakes. It is a fresh pastry rolled out, filled and sealed with spinaches, of course feta cheese, then cooked over a griddle.

But to be honest, my focal attention was dedicated to this family. They were really strict about orderliness at the home and keep regular daily hours. There are no rigorous distribution in family who is a householder but everybody has their own duties. Father pays the fees, goes to Pazar, but never cooks. “Teach me how to cook potatoes”, he asks his wife Saliha.
She gently looks at him and tells him with iron-bound facial expression: “This is my space where I can feel free, I won’t let you take a step in it.”

He looks with smile to her and changes the topic. “Antalyaspor is my favourite football team. What about yours?“ I got used to repeat here that in Lithuania second religion is basketball, while in football there is bigger mess and corruption than real competition.

I always thought that my family is sometimes too emotional and at some point we are out of Lithuanian context but visiting this family I realized that we are far more crazy people. “Don’t write that we’re crazy”, laughs all the family members. Their strength is that they know and live with this fact. But at some moments you don’t know how to behave because emotions change every half an hour.

Mısra is translating parents questions and observations, but at the same time she may begin argue with her mother or start crying. When you just want to run into the corner and wait until it ends and question “What he/she is saying?” just sticks in your throat.

“It’s a pitty that nobody was recording you”, laughs my yoga teacher Taner Tarım as I was telling him all abot my holiday adventures.

Actually you just need to wait and enjoy great view from balcony of Antalya or observe daily neighbours life – somebody is sleeping in the teracce, boys are crushing car in the street, teenagers are playing Okey and drinking Efes. Sounds idealistic?

But it‘s not the reality. One day while we‘re having another large lunch my dear friend announced that her friend from childhood was getting married. You should see how happy she was. But not her mother. I could see question in her eyes: “Why is it not my daughter? She is 24 years-old and just got bachelor degree in Economics.”

So, while Mısra was thinking what to wear for the celebration, her mother started nagging that it was time to go on a diet and complain that she didn’t no knows how to sit straight anymore. “Woman always has to be elegant and look pretty”, she adds.
However, soon all the fuzz settled and we engaged in fortune-telling. What we did was an attempt to get a sneak peek into our futures by using coffee grounds that would fall into mysterious shapes. For me it was a game but for them it looked like morsel of hope. Then Saliha saw in her daughter’s coffee cup shape similar to a man, she rapidly ran in the kitchen. I was sitting clueless. “After future-telling it is important to wash it up as fast as possible, when it may come true in a near future.”

“Yes, of course sitting and eating in the balcony, you will really meet the right guy”, my ironical voice started talking in my minds, but I was trying as hard as possible to shut it up. “Just be open, Agne”, I was telling to myself.

This family has a saying for everything that may happen not in a proper way: “Allah will help us”. They are not praying 5 times in a day and do not visit mosque often, but when the daughter started playing piano, mother told: “Wait, now Father is praying.”
My last hours in Antalya were mystique enough. I had an opportunity to visit ceremony held before weddings. Bride and groom rented a place where they invited only close relatives and friends. First of all they dance, then they go around with candles in the hands and paint hands with kna. No tables loaded with food as it is usual in my home town.
I already knew some basic phrases and I have learnt dances from the previous Turkish weddings I’ve been to, so everybody where asking whether I was a Turk. “You really assimilated”, happily whispered my friend. Actually, that’s true I don’t feel like a stranger or a tourist anymore.

While sitting in the bus back to Eskisehir I felt tired. First of all, in the bus station Mısra and Saliha started crying again, so it affected me really in a strange way. Even my family while saying goodbye never does that. Moreover, their lifestyle dropped me with fatigue. It was nice, but too slow motion. Of course, I understand that it is hot, but anyway, you can’t stay at home so much. Instead of planning and trying to know your future from the coffee grounds, you should go out and take it the way it is.

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