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Merih 30 Jan 2010

IS IT ALL BAD??

Noooooo.. of course not.  Since I started writing my columns, I always talked about the negative aspects, or may be hardships of being a Turk or living in Turkey.  But, we have some special qualities that most nations don´t have.

 

We love foreigners, don´t we?  In big cities we are used to seeing foreigners, but in small cities or villages, they are still an excitiment for the people.  We stare at them, try to help them, if they ask us a question in another language, we try to answer them, though in Turkish, but surely louder than usual, and most of the times syllable by syllable, hoping they would understand.  We would ask them lots of questions, may be even very private ones, touch their different colored hair.  We offer them our house for shelter, and food.  We would encourage them to have their alcoholic drinks - even if we don´t - so that they feel home.  We would even pay the bill in a restaurant or take them from one place to another for free.  We love it when they try to speak Turkish, and never make fun of it.  We treat them like family.

 

I have noticed it more since I have left Turkey.  As a foreigner in Australia, you never cause an excitiment in this country.  People are "polite", they don´t stare at you or don´t ask questions.  The moment you start speaking, they start wondering what accent you have, so they can figure out where you are from, because it is not polite to ask somebody where he / she is from.  Then they will judge you by your country of origin or your religion.  If you go out to a restaurant with them, everybody calculates what they ate or drink and pay for that one.  If you invite someone over, she / he might come with a cup of coffee for themselves, or if you are invited to someone´s house, they will offer you only a cuppa coffee if you are lucky.  They won´t offer cookies to your child, because if your child gets sick, you might sue them.  Most of the relations are give and take.  Of course not all are like that, but we are talking about a general behaviour.

 

The first time we arrived Australia, my daughter immediately started kinder.  Though there are lots of Turks in Australia, we lived in a suburb where Aussies (mainly Greek, Greek Cypriot, Italian origin) live.  So on our first day, of course my daughter not speaking English and being the middle of the 2nd term, it was a curiosity for some parents.  Where are these new guys from?  So I told them we just moved to Australia, blah, blah.  Then on, parents would say an occasional "hello", but we have never been invited to a birthday party.  One of my friends told me not say that we just moved to Australia, as they might think we are one of the refugees coming on a boat - no offense.  I was shocked and I should confess I hated to think that´s what they thought of my family.  So I worked on it.  I explained our background, and how we came here, and what do we do.  Things improved slightly after that.  Of course when they heard that we are Muslim, some of the parents stopped saying hello.

 

When my daughter started primary school, her teacher was informed that we are Muslim.  So she took a long time to be close and talk to me like she talks to the other parents.  Then, one day she confessed to me and another Muslim parent that she didn´t know what to expect, or how to treat us when she heard that she will have 2 Muslim students.

 

Dubai is a different place, where it is okay to ask questions, specially "where are you from?", there is much more racism then anywhere else in the world, as you might get a different salary according to your passport, or be treated accordingly. 

 

Long story short, I think Turkey is one of the most beautiful places in the world for a foreigner to visit or stay.

 

 

That´s all for this week.

Cheers :)




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