Sunday, September 27, 2015

So Much To Learn

Everyone sings the praises of the Mediterranean diet. It's so delicious and healthy, thanks to the health and flavor benefits of olive oil. But what no one tells you is how olive oil can leave unsightly stains on your clothes, especially if you're anything like me and you make a mess when you eat.

I just inadvertently spilled olive oil for the second time on a new peach-colored dress. I bought the summer dress from a sidewalk clothes rack for just 25 lira, so it didn't set me back too much. But still, I liked my dress better without the oil blotches. I will have to learn to eat like a respectable lady if I want to keep my clothes in good condition.

I must also learn to order food in a way that doesn't make me seem like some kind of cave woman who grunts and stomps my feet whenever I feel hungry. Tonight when I ordered my takeaway rice (the same oily rice that ruined my dress!), I said, "Iki pilav paket. Lütfen." This may sound like Tarzan Turkish, but I got my point across and it was better than last week's humorous attempt to order a piece of cake. "Merhaba. Muz pasta," I said hesitantly. I held up one finger, hoping the man would serve me one slice and not an entire cake. I don't even think I said please.

I'm still trying to learn how much staring is permissible from strangers. Before I moved here, I unsuccessfully tried to dye my hair dark brown in an attempt to blend in with the Turkish population and be incognito. The dye washed out, but I have a feeling even if I were brunette, people would still recognize me as foreign. My Turkish friend Seda told me it's mainly because I smile at strangers. I'd consider this some kind of personal defect, like my messy eating habits, except that I am proud of my tendency to smile at people. The trick is to be careful whom you smile at.

On the ferry going to the Prince Islands, Seda and I were standing around speaking English and all of a sudden we were surrounded by leering men. I thought to myself, "Is this the good kind of staring?" But the lecherous looks on their faces told me these were not the same as the curious stares I get when I try to order a piece of cake. My solution was to talk loudly about how I feel VERY UNCOMFORTABLE when men stare at me. They apparently understood enough English to take a hint and slink away to another part of the crowded ferry.

There is so much to learn about living in a new city. Maybe I'll start making dresses out of oilcloth, a fabric typically used to dress up picnic tables, not people. It won't help me at all in fitting in, but at least it won't ruin my clothes when olive oil from my Mediterranean meals drips down my front.

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