It Had to Happen
bus thief, finding fault

It Had to Happen

Just like the stock market making a correction, my feelings about Turkey had to level off, and last week was the week it happened.

On one hand it was a very good week. I was offered a job! It is teaching English for a young company called “Intellenglish.” My responsibilities will be regularly conversing with Turks who know some English, and devising strategies to help them improve. It’s part-time, up to ten hours a week, and I’m pleased.

But some other, less positive things happened. I just finished my second week of Level Three Intensive Turkish. There are four other students in the class, two from Germany, one from Sweden, and one from the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, the teacher finds fault with every bit of Turkish that we try to speak. It is a difficult language, but if we’re able to express the main gist of the sentence correctly, why correct us for minor errors such as confusing the dative and accusative cases, or for inexact pronunciation? It is getting so we are afraid to open our mouths, not a good thing.

On the bright side, perhaps it will be handy to have less-than-ideal teaching tactics fresh in mind as I begin working with my own students.

Last Tuesday evening, I met a new acquaintance, Felicia, near the picturesque village of Arnavutkoy to go to a book club downtown. Before we got on the bus, she pointed at my purse and told me to always keep it fastened for fear of pickpockets. I snapped it shut and we got on the crowded bus.

We began chatting about the trips around Turkey she and her husband have taken and the areas I’d like to visit. As more and more people got on the vehicle, we moved down the aisle of the bus several times, hanging onto overhead handles. Finally two seats opened up, and we sat down. But when Felicia put her purse on her lap, she noticed a neat, eight-inch incision in it toward the bottom. Her wallet had been removed.

Thankfully, she only had a couple of sentimental items in it, a few lira, a debit card that doesn’t work without a PIN, and one credit card.

We were both upset, and amazed that a thief could operate so close to us without our realizing it. I carry numerous credit cards and, pointlessly, my Minnesota driver’s license (it proclaims who I am!), in my wallet, but after I got home, I emptied it of almost everything.

The same day, Sankar’s secretary, Didem, while walking home and talking with a colleague on her cell phone, had her purse snatched by motorcycle thieves. This kind of crime, I’ve been told, was common here several decades ago, but the police cracked down hard and it disappeared. It will be interesting to see what steps are taken now, with Turkey trying to be more gentle and European Union-friendly. Of course it will be our job to crack down on the silent accomplice, distraction.

2 thoughts on “It Had to Happen

  1. Oh!
    The same thing happened to my Mum when we took trip to Istanbul.They robbed her wallet that was inside the purse while we were walking in one of the streets which name I don’t recall at the time.
    It seems that wallet roberry is common there. More than in Iran!
    I understand what you said about Turkish language. Farsi (My native language) is somehow hard for foreigners to learn too.
    In my opinion your teacher would better not being too hard on your pronunciation!
    Congratulations for the job offer! Hope you will enjoy it.

  2. I’m afraid Turkey has a reputation. A few years ago, Gauss’s aunt and uncle from Milan took a vacation to Istanbul and both of their passports were taken. On their way back to they fretted about how they were going to get back into Italy. But when they got to customs and immigration, they noticed that there was a permanent window set up for Italians returning from Turkey whose passports had been stolen.

    Maybe best to just go out in jeans and carry a little cash and your key in the front pocket (my strategy when in China.)

    Congrats on the job offer! I’m sure you will not scare off your students.

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