Monday, 23 February 2015

New Experiences

I really want to share some of the experiences I had while staying there.

First, the houses are not made for cold weather. When in bed, I always felt like there was some window open because it was so loud and felt like the cold was coming in. Also, the air conditioning is fixed outside below the window - it looks really strange

 Another difference was that you can't drink the water from the tap, so you always have to buy it. Therefore you always need a new plastic bottle. Furthermore everywhere you buy anything you get a plastic bag with it. After two days I felt like I had to throw away about 10 plastic bags and 5 bottles and it was really annoying so i started to tell them I don't need a plastic bag - and they were completely confused what I was talking about. So probably the whole "plastic is bad"-concern has not arrived there yet.

When we watched a movie at the cinema, the ticket said it will start at 19:00. For some reason my brother told us to be there early. So we sat there 10 minutes early waiting for the movie to start. In Austria it normally advertising starts 5 minutes early and goes on for 10 minutes and then the movie starts. In Turkey there are some differences. The advertising started at 19:00. On 19:15, the trailers of other movies started, interrupted by some advertisements. And when I was nearly falling asleep somewhere between 19:25 and 19:30 the movie started. It went on for an hour and then suddenly everything went dark. Turned out they always have a 10 minute pause inbetween a movie. Needless to say they filled it up with advertising.

But, while our Metro-Stations are all filled with advertisements, there aren't any at the Metro-Stations in Istanbul. They were all really nicely decorated and some even showed some art.or historical information on the wall.

Also in the cinema, the movie we watched was english, and for some reason most of the time I felt like we were the only ones laughing. I already thought about the possibility that it's not normal to laugh in the cinema but afterwards I found out that they probably just didn't get the jokes as the english was not that easy to understand. And besides sellers and waiters in touristic areas nobody speaks any english. They don't even understand you when you want to ask where to go. Not even most the students are able to speak english.

But they were totally happy if you could speak some turkish words - and were even nicer than before. I must really admit I liked the Turks I met. Some told me to be careful and trust no one and that my brother should always accompany us and watch out and so on but really everyone I met was so nice and friendly and helpful - not only because they wanted to sell me a carpet ("come in! my shop is your shop"). They also have a creative way of approaching. One guy asked whether he sould take a photo of us 4 (two german girls we met at the hostel and us) and then he gave the camera to his friend and just joined the photo. The best story I heard was of the flatmate of my brother who is a Turk. He saw a girl standing outside the flat and thought she is beautiful so he got out and talked to here. She is a Finn and now they are engaged.

What really bugged me was that toilet paper was a rarity in the whole city. Maybe this was so bad for me because the toilet in our hostel was also pretty bad and combined I just didn't want to go on the toilet anymore.

Also, there were just so many people everywhere! When taking the Metro, does not matter which time, it was always so full. We once took the Metrobus, a bus with its own track on the street to go faster, and people could not get into the bus anymore because it already was too full - and it wasn't on rushtime. And when we wanted to a quick side trip into the shopping center, we got stuck inside a procession-like crowd of people all walking into the same direction. I found out they were all heading to the shopping center too - as were the crowds from all the other directions. I am glad I do not live in a megacity. They don't even have that many parks. I have no idea where they go when they want to catch some fresh air.

Another interesting information was about how to know whether people are more conservative or liberal. When a cafe or a restaurant was serving alcohol, it was pretty liberal, because in conservative eyes you are not allowed to drink alcohol in public because it would dishonour you. That does not mean people don't drink alcohol - but they do it at home where nobody can see them. Second, a sign of a liberal shop / cafe was that they were employing women - and I saw nearly no cafe or restaurant employing women. It is a pretty strange thing with women - they do study as much as anyone else, but I have no idea where they are working afterwards, maybe somewhere nobody can see them. On the campus there is even a student home for just female students so they are secure and won't get in touch with the bad world outside. Also, in mosques there are seperate praying areas somewhere in the corner behind a wall for women.

Also, five times a day the muezzin sings or prays - I am not sure about that - and you can hear it everywhere in the city and also everywhere in the country where people live. In Austria they don't even manage to install emergency sirens that are heard by people living in some smaller villages. Maybe we should convert to Islam too so if there would be an emergency we would all be warned.

But not to forget the food. Turks always accompany their food with bread - if there is no bread the meal won't still the hunger. Also, they do strange things like putting fries into sauces. Or giving you yoghurt so you can put it in afterwards. They are even drinking yoghurt (Ayran) everywhere. And in the kebap (they call it pide et döner or something like that) there is no sauce - for some reason they don't put yoghurt in there - but there are pickled gherkins inside. And nearly every dessert is dripping of honey - best of them was the baklava. Also, they have a really really good rice. I have no idea how they make it but I will miss it.

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