Since I’m waiting for my stuff to arrive, I’m basically camping in my apartment. Along with a loaner bed, table, and chairs, I bought a pot, a silicone cooking spoon, and some paper plates so that I can actually eat in my home. This is no attempt at sparse or minimalist living – I’m just trying to avoid the piling up of duplicate items once my things arrive.
One exception, however, is electronics, since Turkey (and most of the rest of the world) operate on a different voltage system than we do. This has the tendency to burn out appliances in a big poof. I have two transformers to use with my American items, and I think I can make it work. In Bahrain I only had one transformer and was always humping that 20 lb thing around my apartment between the bathroom (for the hair dryer) and the kitchen for the mixer, food processor, etc.
There are some appliances endemic to living in Turkey that won’t be coming in my shipment. One, the water cooler, I bought right away. We went to Arcılık, a Turkish brand appliance shop. While there, I also picked out an iron and ironing board since I can’t remember which shipment I put that into, and therefore whether it’s going to show up here or not.
At the appliance store, my kapıcı (doorman/random-everything man for the entire building) tried to bargain the shopkeeper with little success (20 TL savings, about $11). After I paid and we worked out the delivery, the salesman said he gave me the wrong price for the iron, and I needed to pay about $50 more! I acted annoyed and put upon, and insisted on them either giving me the price I paid or refunding the money. In Turkey, nobody ever wants to refund your money for anything. Ever! So when the “wrong price” bargaining tactic is played, I know to stand my ground. Eventually after a lot of back and forth in Turglish, we agreed that I would pay the price I had already paid (small wonder) and still receive all of my items. Then all the salesmen kept telling me, in English, how “clever” I was! In Turkish the vocabulary is a little more limited than English, so the same word means smart, clever, intelligent, wise, brainy, sensible, astute, and on and on.
But back to the water cooler. It is so awesome to have one of these in your kitchen! Along with the very satisfying bubble that plops up in the bottle, I have hot and cold water at my disposal, all of the time. When the bottle is empty, I call a number, and a new bottle shows up in 5-10 minutes. The water companies have dispatch trucks full of jugs stationed all over the city. A new bottle costs about $3.50.
A Turkish friend was at my place, and advised that I switch out my water company every few months, because the companies put chemicals and other “drugs” into the water, and I may get addicted to a certain brand. Really? I was polite, since this guy has been really helpful, but incredibly dubious and began asking for evidence, or at least some stories of what happens when water attacks. He had no good response. Still curious, I asked around with some other, younger Turks and they all responded with a hearty chuckle. Turks love conspiracy theories! I knew this was true for politics especially, and other topics of international intrigue (like the French parliament’s Armenian genocide bill), but had no clue that it extended to the water. In an additional conspiracy, everyone acknowledges that the water from the faucet here is perfectly safe to drink, but since it’s supplied by the Ministry of Water, nobody trusts it. I guess I trust it – I definitely drunk plenty of it before my water cooler arrived with no negative effects. I just wanted my very own water cooler!
Appliance number 2. This week, the temperature has been in the high 30s/low 40s (90s F)/low 100s F), and according to my iphone weather app, this will continue for a while. At first I thought I would be fine with no a/c since my apartment has so many windows and is high enough for a breeze, but after two sleepless nights I broke down and bought a portable air conditioner. I’m not the best bargain hunter, and only saw a few air conditioners before I picked one that looked decent, with a decent price and relatively high BTU rating. For faster installation I went with a portable, vice wall-mounted, model. It showed up the next day, and within 10 minutes, the glass cutter was here to cut a hole in a window for the exhaust. It was all super-fast and relatively cheap – the service industry in Turkey is incredible. My engineering experience won out a couple of times, but of course none of these guys would ever give me credit. Whenever my Turkish friend (a retired Army colonel) is with me, everybody defers to him. What would a woman know about air conditioners or cutting glass, or even estimating the size of an exhaust hose? So I usually make a suggestion, sit back while the menfolk argue it out and then, sometimes with additional trial and error, do what I said originally. If it didn’t waste so much time (and in this case, if I wasn’t worried about them breaking my windows), it would be funny.
The important thing, of course, is that now I have an air conditioner. I have it set at 17C, which would be pretty cold, except that so far, it only keeps the main rooms pleasant but not chilly. Also, it’s very loud! This is what happens when you’re sweating balls and you’re so desperate for some relief that you buy the next a/c that crosses your path! So, a lesson on buying a/cs – figure out how powerful it is, how loud it is, and what’s required to install it.