Of Expat Despair and Turkish Delight

by missfootloose on April 28, 2012 · 12 comments

in Expat life, life abroad, Turkey

Turkish carpets“Do you have a comb on you?” a frenzied British voice asks.

Huh?

I’ve just entered the ladies room of a restaurant on the Turkish coast. I’ve never been here before. I do not know the agitated woman examining herself in front of the mirror. She’s skinny, sportishly attired but past the bloom of youth. (Sadly, so am I.)

Her hair is out-of-a-box red, straight and short, and fits like a copper helmet on her head, as if sprayed into submission by a mother lode of hairspray.

I noticed other foreigners in this restaurant, which apparently is an expat hangout. They all seem to know each other. A good number of Brits and Germans have made their home here on this beautiful coast of Turkey. You can see why. Nature here is spectacular, the food is delicious, and the local people are friendly.

Turkish coast

Who wouldn’t want to lounge away an afternoon in a restaurant like this one below?

Turkish restaurant

“You have a comb on you?” the woman asks again. She’s not looking at me, but is peering frenetically at her reflection and nervously arranging a small lock of hair by her ear. I am mystified by her desperation.

“No, I don’t,” I say, which is actually the truth. I would have lied if I’d had one as it’s not my hobby to lend my comb to strangers in restrooms. I know you may find it uncharitable of me not to come to the aid of a sister in need, but so be it.

I see her reflection in the mirror, see the manic look in her eyes.

One of the fun things about travel and expat life is that, apart from meeting interesting locals, you come across flaky foreigners — refugees from the Western rat race, adventurous retirees, misfits and oddballs who are out of place in their own country. I’m not sure which category this panicky lady fits into. Maybe she’s just a visiting granny high on Turkish Delight.

Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight in the Tuesday Market in the town of Fethiye, Turkey

I rake my fingers through my own hair and do a bit of fluffing. “I just go like this,” I tell her, to give her another option, which may actually not work on her helmet hair. “You look fine,” I add to comfort her and calm her distress. (Let it not be said I don’t try to be nice.)

She turns around and faces me. Her eyes are very dark. There’s a moment of silence. “Who cares, anyway, really?”she says then, as if struck by revelation and enlightenment.

“That’s my motto,” I say cheerily, reaching for the door to the toilet stall.

She takes a deep breath as if this profound insight has taken a load of her shoulders. “Really, who cares?” She turns and trots off to the dining room.

Other expats I’ve met here, British and Dutch, love living here in Turkey. They do not worry about their hair and seem relaxed rather than stressed. Possibly because they do not partake excessively of sugar or mind altering substances, but instead get high on watching the spectacular sunsets on this coast.

Turkish coast

Does this photo remind you of the one on Turkey is for Life? Well, British expat Julia and I were sitting at the same table (with our spouses), watching the same sunset. Her posts about her life in Turkey lured us here, and so we met. This was great fun and the first time I ever met someone I knew in the blogosphere.

It’s easy to see why expats love it here. Here’s the garden of the house of Dutch expats, hammock and all.

Garden in Turkey

They traveled around, were in India and Morocco and Portugal. They fell in love with Turkey and settled here. They speak Turkish, which is no small feat.

But I digress

Back at the restaurant table with my prince, I sip my wine and we order food. I see the hair-crisis lady standing at the bar with three men, talking and laughing and having a drink. Later on I see her alone at a table writing on a laptop.

Maybe she’s a famous novelist and I don’t recognize her. Maybe she’s sending an email to her grandchildren. Or maybe she has a blog and is writing about her hair epiphany in a Turkish bathroom: Nobody cares what my hair looks like!

* * *

No doubt you’ve come across a few oddballs in your traveling life. Do tell and entertain me!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy April 28, 2012 at 3:59 am

Oooh you’ve got me yearning for Turkish delight now. I just love the stuff!
Judy recently posted..A double-edged sword: Expats and the InternetMy Profile

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Karen April 28, 2012 at 10:09 am

I highly recommend making real-life friends out of your virtual blogging friends. It’s totally worked for me!
Karen recently posted..Turkish Teens Out for a Zombie Walk in IstanbulMy Profile

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linda@adventuresinexpatland.com April 28, 2012 at 10:21 am

It sounds as though ‘Helmet Head’ took your words to heart, at least for the moment. Let’s hope she applies them to the bigger picture as well. We visited Istanbul in February and enjoyed it immensely. Hope to someday return and visit Cappadocia and the southern beaches…
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Pat April 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm

LOL over this one. I have never had anyone ask me to borrow a brush. Heaven knows, I never carried a comb. Heck most days I forget to fuss with my hair even before leaving the house. Your photos are so enticing…makes me want to travel to Turkey.

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an expat wife April 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Well that’s a tad bizarre!

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Welshcakes Limoncello May 1, 2012 at 12:10 am

Oh, I feel for her as I’m always in a hair crisis! Love that restaurant with the loungers, by the way.
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Sonia Marsh/GutsyLiving May 2, 2012 at 6:42 am

Well it doesn’t seem like her hair crisis bothered the three men surrounding her. Your hammock looks inviting, but I still prefer a hammock overlooking the Caribbean. Do you think you could live in Turkey?
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edj May 4, 2012 at 7:13 am

*blissful sigh…* now I want to visit Turkey!

Once, we were traveling in the middle of the Sahara, and we stopped at an auberge. There was a single French woman staying there as well, and we sort of made friends. She invited us to this soiree she’d sort of arranged with local musicians for entertainment. (that is, I think she paid them but I’m sure it was their idea and I’m also sure they were fantastically overpaid!) We all lived in country. At one point, they tried to get her to dance. Mauritanian dancing is very subtle and involved a lot of swaying and small hand movements, but her idea was obviously taken from watching African dance programs on tv so she got up and leaped about! It was so funny! We tried to politely stifle our giggles, but we could tell they were laughing at her too.
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sine May 4, 2012 at 11:12 am

Lol, loved this. And I have to guiltily admit i haven’t been reading your blog as regularly as I should, because, like, did you move away from Moldova to Turkey? Or are you just visiting?

I’ve heard from other expats that Turkey and especially Istanbul is right there at the top of places to live. Can’t wait to visit sometime, but got all of Africa to cover first.

And, I must say, Turkish Delight is one of the sweets I absolutely don’t care for. Not one bit. I can think of a hundred better ways to waste calories.
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sine May 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

BTW, I love your comment form. Is this Wordpress or can us other mortals on Blogger use it too?
sine recently posted..Welcome Home. And Can I See Your Driver’s License?My Profile

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guyana gyal May 4, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Sharing a comb is like sharing a toothbrush. Never. Share!

I wonder if I’m one of those odd-balls. eek. Sometimes I act out of sheer impulse then afterwards I think how weird it probably looked to the other person.

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DL Nelson May 12, 2012 at 12:32 am

Thank you…

It is the end of a long day…I’m tired and looking at the photos was like a mini vacation before I go to bed.

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