I Would Be Humiliated!

I was back in Istanbul this week visiting some friends. One friend invited me to his family’s house for dinner, where I was asked an intriguing question.

“What’s the most difficult thing about Turkey?”

For a moment, I was at a loss for what to say, both because no Turkish person has ever asked me that and because there are a lot of things I find difficult in Turkey.

I could have talked about some of the more global problems in Turkey – corruption, women’s rights, the huge political divisions, and so on. In the end, however, I answered that what was hardest day to day were my own personal encounters with culture shock. Not knowing how to behave, whether to wear slippers, what it means when somebody buys you things, what you can say about Turkish culture as a foreigner, and so on.

So that’s what I said. “Well, there are a lot of things that are difficult about Turkey, but on a personal level it’s mostly just culture shock. For example, men always buy me meals here. In Canada, that would probably mean something romantic, but here the culture is different so I never know how to behave when it happens.

Friend’s brother-in-law said, “Oh yeah. One time in university, I had a friend who was a girl. She was just a friend – we weren’t involved or anything. One day after class we went out for tea. I had enough money for one tea and one bus ticket home. But I paid for both the teas and because I didn’t have the money for the bus, I had to walk three hours to get home.”

“Then another time, I had another female friend who I also wasn’t involved with. We went out often and I usually paid for the tea, but one day she paid for it. Later on, I asked a guy friend of mine how he would feel if a girl paid for his tea. He said, “I would be humiliated!”

After hearing this story, friend allowed me to pay for a tea for him. If memory serves me correctly, it was the only thing he let me pay for. Also, note the composition of this photograph.

After hearing this story, the friend who had invited me to dinner allowed me to pay for a tea for him. If memory serves me correctly, it was the only thing he let me pay for for the whole week. Also, note the composition of this photograph. The chipped nail polish, the messy tray in the background, the fact that it is clear that I took this with my cell-phone camera #thisisreallife #onlyreallyterriblemakeup #nophotoshop #Iwouldbeaterribletourismtravelblogger

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