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Friday, November 12, 2010

Ev - My New Home

          I really liked the inside of my new home immediately.  It is immaculately tidy, yet you can feel right away that it's a comfortable place where a busy family lives.  Most of the rooms are primarily white, with colored or lace curtains, marble windowsills, comfy furniture, and lots of lights.  

The Front Entrance
          The front door is made of thick, light wood with golden, intricately carved handles, and it is always kept locked.  Inside, the entrance is flanked by a large coat and shoe wardrobe on the left side, and a gilded full length mirror on the right.  In the center, there is a round glass table where we all tend to dump our bags and bills as soon as we walk in the door, though Irma fruitlessly tells us not to - she tries to keep it tidy and clean.   The entryway then opens up behind a spiral staircase that twists from top to bottom of the house, into a spacious lounge and festive dining area.  This room is equipped with Engin's large, flat screen TV, an amazing sound system, comfy couches and chairs, lots of family portraits and pictures of the girls, and a little piano for music practice (both girls have weekly lessons).  Two large white pillars flank the front of the space, and the back wall is primarily composed of large glass doors that lead out into the backyard.  

The Living Room Lounge
The Musical Corner
          On the first floor there is also a kitchen, a little office room, and a tiny bathroom.  The  kitchen is packed with cabinets that hold a seemingly endless assortment of pots, pans, dining utensils, spices, teas, and other treats.  There are two refrigerators, one of which is always locked, and has an all kinds of alcoholic beverages squeezed precariously on top of it.  The table where we eat most of our meals is at the back of the room, and is surrounded on three sides by a comfy, cushioned bench that has become soft and worn with use.  To the left of the table there is a set of double swinging doors that lead into the lounge dining area. The office contains a desk, some shelves stacked with books, pictures, and all sorts of odds and ends, a few cabinets, and an old armchair that is missing one leg (I discovered this when I tried to sit in it the day after I arrived).  
Naz's pretty Room
Rana's Room 
after School... :)

The Playroom in use!
            The Family bedrooms are all on the second floor.  Baba and Anne share a large room that has an adjoining walk-in-closet and bathroom, while on the other side of the stairway are the girls' two rooms, their little playroom, and a double bathroom.  Part of my job is to keep the children's rooms clean and tidy, which has proven to be a continuous duty.,, they thankfully have not proven to be the type who stick to one tidy activity all day long!  Both girls have floor to ceiling closets that are filled with clothes and games, while there collection of shoes, socks, and nick-knacks are all stored in drawers and sliding shelves beneath inset vanity mirrors.  Their playroom has little boxes stacked up along two walls that contain all of their many dolls, games, books, and more.  Under the carpet, a few puzzles are hidden that they have made, and a family of well fed fish keep us all company. 

The 280 degree panorama view from our balcony.

Looking out...
The 3rd Story Window
          The top of the spiral stairway opens into a brightly lit, carpeted "attic." It is probably my favorite space within the entire house, primarily because of the large window that leads to a balcony, providing a fantastic view of the surrounding landscape.  The third floor also feels more relaxed somehow, and it is only really myself, Irma, Naz and Rana who use it.  There a few well worn couches and chairs, a large, flat-screen TV, an area to hang laundry and iron, and two closet spaces that encircle both sides of the room.  It is here that the girls play house in the forts that they build, and here where we can paint and do other large, messy activities.  Up here, I feel most at home.  
The Spiral Staircase
          My bedroom is downstairs, in the basement.  It too, is almost entirely white... the walls, ceiling, floor, bed, closets, nightstands, and dresser are all the same pure, bleached color.  However, a deep burgundy couch chair and a colorful woven carpet add the perfect amount of color to make me feel comfortable in the space.  As a matter of fact, I love everything about it except that I only have a single, little window above my bed.  During moments of homesickness, this nearly windowless room of mine gives me the feeling that I live in a fairytale dungeon.  Also on the bottom floor is Irma's room, the laundry room, a walk in shoe closet, and a big open space that Naz and Rana use for tennis practice.  

My Unmade Bed; the Chair (right)


          Outside Ev, there is a tiny, well manicured backyard.  I spend the least amount of time in it, since there really is not anything to do or see, besides a few rose bushes, and the hedge that closes in everything.  Each time I look outside, I realize how fortunate my family was, to have acres and acres of fields and forest to explore and enjoy.  I don't even need to weed the flowers, because each week someone comes to trim the bushes and tidy the yard.  Already, the calluses on my hands have nearly disappeared! Yet, the little garden does help to make the house pretty and complete. 
A View of Ev from the Yard
          Overall, I like my new home quite well enough.  It is very organized and neat, without being to large or two small, too rough or too delicate.  From the outside and the inside, it feels like an upgraded version of the development houses that have become so popular in the states.  Being here in a complex also means that it is a safe and quiet place to be, and I feel that for a job setting in Turkey, I am very well off :) .   

          Ev;  House          Baba;  Dad          Anne; Mom

Friday, November 5, 2010

First Impressions

           I began my stay in Istanbul just hanging out nervously at the airport. Huma had told me that I was to wait for Yeshim in the lobby at "the cafe" where she could easily find me.  However, there were three cafes.  Looking around at all of the people, I felt sure that I would not recognize my new "house mom" in the crowd of tourists, businessmen, beggars, and chauffeurs, so with a sigh I sat down near the closest cafe where it was a bit less crowded.  After more than half an hour, I was very uncomfortable.  Huma had also said that Yeshim was arriving by an international flight, but since I could not understand any of the arrival announcements, I had no idea whether or not she could have been delayed.  If worse came to worst, I figured that at least I had enough cash to take a taxi all the way to my new home, but I still needed some way to communicate with Yeshim... ( now I'm not so sure if 350 TL would have actually been enough to get me all the way out to Kemerburgaz).  
          When 18:30 had come and gone, I gathered my possessions and tentatively approached the information desk.  A young lady behind the glass window looked friendly enough, so I walked up to her confidently and said, 
          "Merhaba..." Then, "Sorry, but do you speak any English?"
          The lady smiled, raised her eyebrows with a questioning look, and finally answered, "A leeetle." 
           Inwardly I groaned. Wonderful; and welcome to Turkey. Here we go! Then I made an effort to explain as simply as I knew how that I was supposed to meet a woman called Yeshim Esmer at 18 o'clock, and that I would be very grateful if someone could call her name over the intercom so that she would know where to meet me.  
          With eyebrows still raised, the lady dialed a few numbers, and then handed the receiver to me.  Miraculously, Huma was on the phone. She explained apologetically that Yeshim was running late, but should arrive in about an hour and would look for me at Starbucks.  I thanked her, gave the phone and a huge smile to the information lady, and feeling quite ready for a delicious drink, I worked my way through the crowded lobby to the familiar coffee shop. There I did some more waiting, but this time I was sitting comfortably in a huge armchair, with a delicious cup of my first Turkish apply chai. 
          Yeshim finally arrived, and I only knew it was her because she looked around the Starbucks from a distance, smiled when she saw me, and walked up to where I now stood nervously by my beckoning, comfy Starbucks chair.  After the customary cheek to cheek greeting, she politely asked how everything had gone with me trip, and apologized for being a bit behind schedule.  Then she offered to help with some of my luggage, and we swiftly exited the airport.  I noticed with envy that she was only travelling with a little purse, and wore light, stylish clothing and heels.  Here was a woman who was definitely accustomed to flight travel! Together we lugged my baggage through a line of honking taxis and buses, bouncing on and off of a little dirty sidewalk until we came to a very dusty, tiny red car.  The man waiting beside it inclined his head, squeezed my stuff carefully into the trunk, and handed the keys to Yeshim. 
          The 40 minute ride was quite an experience... Cars were packed on the road with no regard to  dividing lines, bumper to bumper at 50 - 70 mph!  Horns beeped continually, in a brilliant pattern of communication that would have been an insane nightmare to the most skilled New York City driver.  Yet I saw no accidents, even with the motor scooters dodging round everyone or barreling down the shoulder of the highway.  Yeshim maneuvered her little car expertly, and we were soon driving through the securely monitored entrance of the Burgaz housing complex.  Silently, I vowed to never sit behind the wheel of a vehicle during my stay in Turkey.  
          When we arrived, I was greeted by the curious, bright faces of Naz and Rana, who escorted me down to my room, and then helped me unpack and get settled into my new home.  

          Merhaba;  Hello          Chai;  Tea