A Costa Rican friend once told me never to compare countries. That is probably good advice, but I can’t follow it these days. I am constantly comparing my life in Turkey and my life in Minnesota.
Things I like better in Minnesota:
-Enough parking spaces for everyone
-Target! Sometimes I think of all the magnificent, glorious, historical buildings in Turkey and then I put them all up against being able to walk into Target store and buy a stylish version of just about anything I need at a low price. When I think that way, Minnesota wins the comparison. But when I think of the fact that probably that Turkey could obtain Target stores, but Minnesota will never be filled with Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman treasures, Turkey wins.
< -Lending libraries -Clothes-washing instructions in English Things I liked better in Turkey: -I never, ever felt afraid: People were always watching and concerned. I didn’t realize I was so protected until I’d been in Turkey about a year. One evening I was walking up from the Sea Road to my apartment through the historic village of Arnavutkoy. At intervals on the sidewalks, foot-high pillars had been installed to prevent people from parking. Not paying attention, I swung my leg right into one of them, crashing my shin against the cement. The pain did not distract me from hearing a kind of collective “Owww,” from unseen voices all around me. People are always watching in Turkey. -The prayer call. It marked the passage of the day and reminded me of God. Things I no longer have to think about now that I'm back in Minnesota: -Twisties -Ziploc bags Foods I miss: -Eggplant: This wonderful vegetable was available in so many different forms in Turkey: roasted and mashed to form a smoky-tasting hors d’oeuvre; grilled with kebab meat; stewed with lamb; roasted and then eaten cold in salads; and cooked with ground meat to form a delicacy called imam bayildi, the imam fainted.
-Freshly roasted, low-cost pistachios
Foods I’m glad to be reunited with:
-Baby back ribs
-Excellent bread in many varieties, including bagels.Somehow I think this relates to diversity.
|Black Forest rye bread from the general store at Marine on the St. Croix
American habits that now perplex me:
-Assuming kids hate vegetables.At a recent gathering I attended, sandwiches were offered to both adults and kids, but for children, the lettuce and tomato had been removed.
-Eating alone in restaurants. This is something Americans, including myself, don’t mind doing, but I think it would seem pitiful to Turks.
-Number of days back in Minnesota before someone asked, “Weren’t you scared living in Turkey?” and then refused to believe me when I answered no: Five.
-First catalog company to find me here in MN: Orvis.(I wonder how long before the deluge.)
Ways to keep Turkey alive for me:
-My little town of White Bear Lake is soon going to have a Turkish restaurant called
The Black Sea
-There is a Turkish/Iranian cafe and grocery store near the University of Minnesota.
-My friend, Patti, has a Turkish housemate who I will soon meet.
-I can order Turkish products at Tulumba.com. Unfortunately, they are not cheap. Price for a package of Turkish tea: $9.99. Shipping: $9.61.
It is fun to do this kind of tallying. I guess what I’m really trying to do is decide which place makes me the most happy. Right now my answer would be: Both!