An Hour of Ups and Downs in Ankara
In the process of running a few errands today, I ran into to all kinds of personalities.
First, I picked up my rugs. I had bought two silk rugs when I lived in Bahrain seven years ago and since then never managed to get them cleaned. Everybody has rugs here, and most places that offer dry-cleaning also do rug cleaning. When I dropped mine off, the clerk warned me that cleaning them would be very expensive because they were silk. When I asked how much, she said 10-15 TL per square meter. I’ve learned that “really expensive” here is generally affordable to me, and I went for it. So today, when I picked them up, it was 40 lira total for 2 rugs, or about $20 – pretty awesome for cleaning eight years of wear. Score!
Next I went to a frame shop to pick up stuff from this summer’s travels. This shop is full service. As Serdar was presenting my items, each had a little plastic baggie attached to the back with picture hangers and nails. They even offered to come and hang them if I didn’t have anybody to do it for me – wow! But the kicker came at payment time. I forked over my credit card, which didn’t work the first time. He ran it again and offered me tea, which we drank while he kept swiping the card. As we finished our second glass of tea without a successful transaction, everybody agreed that the machine wasn’t going to work today, and since there was no ATM nearby, I should just come back sometime next week to pay. Can you imagine that happening in the States?
After I loaded my pictures into the car, I started hearing some shouting that felt, somehow, directed at me. I looked right up into Turkish balcony culture, which I had often heard about but had as yet not seen. In the building I had parked in front of, everybody was out on their balconies, enjoying afternoon tea. An older lady, teacup in hand, was yelling at me about my parking job with her neighbors clicking along in approval. Basically, she wasn’t happy that my car’s bumper was essentially kissing her car’s bumper. Fair enough, I thought, everybody has their own opinion about the actual purpose of bumpers. My Turkish is decent, but it’s harder to understand with the street noise and somebody four stories up yelling down with everybody else throwing in their two cents. Their basic premise was that my car couldn’t fit into the spot, which I found absurd, since it had already been parked in the spot for going on an hour. I summoned all of my confidence to yell back that I would move the car slightly to see if there was any damage to her car. After much back and forth, the balcony chorus eventually agreed that this would be okay. So after moving my car about an inch, guess what? No damage! I think I was the only one not surprised by this outcome. After lots of waving and apologizing and a few offers of tea, I was free to go on my way. Whew!