Sunday 23 August 2015

Things that I'd never heard of before moving to Turkey #1

Ovarian Cysts.
Why do all Turkish women have them? And why had I never met a woman with one in the 31 years I lived in England?

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Doctor! Who? Me?

Got a sodding cold. It's the weirdest June I can remember. Normally by mid-April the summer sets in and you can pack away your warm stuff for retrieval in November. Not this year mind, it's pissing down outside.

Somewhere along the road, I picked up this sniffle. Been working a little too hard lately and I suppose my body just needed to shut down. I don't blame it and the last time it happened, my body decided it didn't want to smoke anymore. Cool. Still doesn't. I'm OK with that.

I went to the doctor's yesterday to see if I could get some horse pills. Turkish doctors have a habit of shooting for the stars and then working down. "Sore throat? AIDs is a possibility." It's something to do with the way doctors don't get back-handers from the medical reps who visit them daily. Honestly, they don't. Back-handers are absolutely forbidden. To make sure that everyone's on the same page, the medical companies ensure that all doctors are informed of the fact when they attend the all-expenses-paid 'seminars' and 'conferences' held in Dubai, Capetown, Honolulu... And just to doubly make sure, they are each given a laptop/smart phone/iPad so they can be reminded by email.

The bottom line is, you can get pretty good drugs at the quack's over here. And, to be honest, I'm tired of sneezing and I needed something strong.

Went down to the health centre and there's a sign on the door: "open at 13:00". The time's now 12:30 so with a muttered obscenity, I took myself off for some soup.

The soup was nice. I went for lentil. You get a nice array of sundries if you choose your restaurant carefully. The origin of the owner is important. I went for Konya.


Went back at 13:00 on the nose. Walked through the door and picked up a number card. Mine was number 2. Weird considering I was the only bugger in the place. Who took 1? I took a seat next to the door of my GP. Got up. Knocked on the door. Listened. Tried the handle. Locked. Sat down.

Along came a nurse to unlock all the doors. People started to wander in through the door, picking up numbers and sitting down around me. I heard people mentioning 13:30. I asked the nurse. Yep, apparently the front doors open at 13:00 but the doctors come back at 13:30. Nice. Fuck everyone.

Anyway, as I watched the battery of my iPhone slip below 20%, an old man came and sat next to me. I clocked the number 1 card in his hand and kinda felt OK about the world again. Poor old bugger. He deserves to go first. He probably stole that card in the early 80s and has been skipping the queue for decades. That's fine.

The doctors enter to health center like the Rolling Stones taking the stage. Everyone sits up with excitement as their white coats brush our knees. "I'll take first" comes the medical chorus as the doors fling open. And with that, in totters the old geezer, freeing up two seats next to me which is immediately occupied by a sweet looking diminutive young couple.

"Who's 3?", "Who's 5?" as everyone learns who to keep an eye on. No one asks about me. Everyone knows me. I've been there for fucking hours.

The young man sitting next to me, turns and asks "do you mind if we just ask the doctor a quick question?". I look at their card (number 7) and mine (number 2) and around at all the other people with numbers lower than 7 and say "I'm sorry but I don't speak Turkish".

Imagine my surprise when he comes back at me with "Ermmmm Me errrr doctor ummmmm one question?" in English. Fuck it. "Yes, mate, sure". Bollocks!

As the old man finally emerges from the room, the young couple dart in. I stand as I'm assuming they're not going to.... fuckers! They closed the door!

"Who the fuck are they?", "What number were they?", "Who's number 2?", "Why did they jump in?"... I hear behind me from a number of different voices. There's absolute disgust spewing out all over the place as I turn around to face the music. What do I do? If I admit to letting them in, I've written my own lynching warrant. "I don't speak Turkish?"

The mood suddenly changed. "The bastards!", "How dare they?", "No respect!", "No honour!", "Queue-jumpers!", "How was he supposed to know? He's a foreigner!", "Let's all confront them when they come out!", "Yeah!" ..."YEAH!"

The door opened to reveal an angry little man. "You realise we can hear you in there? Who the fuck called me a bastard?" Amazingly, the mood switched again. "No, we said 'queue-jumper'" someone said sheepishly. Meanwhile, I looked busy and rapidly pushed my iPhone battery down to 10%.

They left and I was in so fast you could have lit a cigarette off the door hinges (thanks Mike Reid). Classically, the doctor didn't even acknowledge my presence for about 5 minutes while he finished off the previous report. But with a jab to the tonsils, an "Ahhh!" and a "cough for me", he made his diagnosis. Writing a 5 digit code on a piece of paper, he wished me a good day.

I left that office the way a pedophile leaves court and made my way out into the street. The great thing about health centes in Turkey, is that they are surrounded by chemists. Almost every shop on the block is a chemist. Seriously...

So I ricocheted from one to another until I found one without a queue. Paid my 7TL and got the gear. Huge disappointment. Total rubbish. All over-the-counter shit. I could have just walked into the chemist and asked the pharmacist. But then... like so often in Turkey... I wouldn't have had a story to tell you.

Right, back to the world where I have an ounce of shame. TTFN.

Saturday 2 August 2014

Fezaurus #12

Allah'ın sopası yok - God doesn't have a stick.
A beautiful expression used when someone does you wrong and then goes an injures themselves in some way. For example, when someone fucks you over and then ends up in hospital with a sprained ankle (to pick an example entirely at random). The underlying message is that they've injured themselves because God doesn't have a fucking great stick to beat them with to bring judicial equilibrium back to the universe. We might call it 'Karma'.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Which Side Are You On?

I was sitting in the barber's chair the other day and I thought to myself "I should probably blog this". It was one of those weird times. Not because of what I was doing, but the context in which I was doing it. I can't even say it was the weirdest or most bloggable thing I've done in the inexcusably long time since I last blogged something. But the blog crossed my mind. And so, I'm doing it. Perhaps I'll get around to the enormous list of other weirdness that surrounds an Englishman in Turkey. But for the moment I'll just tell you about sitting in a barber's chair, holding an iPad, pointing at the screen and saying "can you cut it like his?".

"Let me see it again" asked the barber after a few minutes.

"Sure" I said and showed him the following picture:

I don't know why it struck me as something to blog. The thought of me trying to explain who Billy Bragg was perhaps. The fact we shared the same name. That a Turkish barber should be studying and trying to emulate the cut of Billy Bragg's hair.

Perhaps it was just the converging of these two very different but very real worlds. For me Billy Bragg is the epitome of everything I hold dear about England and the barber, his Turkish counterpart.

There is a deeper connection, and it was perhaps this that struck somewhere under the gown. When writing this blog about my observations of the Turkish culture and the inevitable comparisons I would draw from my British up-bringing, there has always been an underlying truth. As much as I love my home and as much as I may seem to criticise this brave new world, Billy Bragg said it best... "I'm not looking for a new England".

Sunday 19 February 2012

Safety Last

I saw this ingenious invention in a friend's car the other day. For drivers who don't want to be disturbed by some pesky alarm warning you of your precarious position when you're not wearing your seat belt. I give you the danger neutraliser...

Simply plug this device into your seat belt socket and cleverly fool your car into thinking you actually give a shit about not hurtling through your windscreen.

Cheaper solutions are also available:

  • Repeatedly clicking the release button on the seat belt socket whenever the alarm sounds. Time consuming but effective.
  • Locking the seat belt in place before entering the car. Then sitting on it. This technique is a favourite of taxi drivers.
  • Wearing your seat belt.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Fezaurus #11

Karpuzun hamı. Topalın amı - A ripe watermelon. A lame girl's twat.

Both extremely sweet apparently. The watermelon is fairly self-explanatory. The girl with a limp? Due to the fact she don't get out much, it is assumed she would be equipped with, what Mike Reid might describe as, a mouse's ear 'ole in her downstairs department.

BTW... good to be back :)

Monday 10 October 2011

My name is Death...

Yes, it's that time of year again. I've got man-flu. And, as any woman will know, man-flu can seem to be almost life-threatening. When I was a child, my mother gave me a little bell that I would ring any time I needed something. She knew the power of man-flu.

One thing that always trips me up linguistically is that, in the Turkish language, you don't 'have' an illness, you 'become' one. So, currently, I am a cold. Strange, I know.

A: Bad news, I'm afraid. Murat is cancer.
B: Bad news? That's great news! Let's drown the cunt and save millions of lives!

Should I survive, I will write again soon.