Hello FAB People! As you may or may not know today, 29 October 2011, is the 88th birthday of the Turkish Republic and as such, I wanted to rep my homeland with a blog post. However, having taking part in an Inspirational You event at London Bridge followed by a four-hour sojourn through the temple of Waterstones Piccadilly Circus (Four hours after and four books heavier, I am certain I am an uber-geek!), I resort to rehashing an oldie but a goody, “50 Ways to Tell You’re Turkish” which once appeared on my personal blog all revised and redrafted for your reading plesure.
Go on then, I dare you, take the ultimate test of Turkishness and don’t forget to wish my old man of a homeland a happy 88th before midnight!
1. You can sing at least one Sezen Aksu song, in tune, from beginning to end, backwards and sideway, and inside and out – ’cause she is undeniably the Queen of Turkish Pop Music.
2. You go to football games armed with a range of weaponry ranging from kitchen knives to katanas.
3. You treat any form of international sports event as a matter of life or death.
4. You drink your tea from an hourglass-shaped glass… Without milk.
5. You scorn Nescafe in favour of a tiny cup of coffee with huge granules at the bottom.
6. And you flip the cup over on the saucer when you’re done, let it cool down and read your fortune from the cup. Often find “paths” leading to “far places” and “props” you will obtain “in three weeks’/months’/years’/decades’ time” (Delete as appropriate).
7. You consider Eurovision as some form of patriotic excursion. And you’re proud that you no longer end up with “no point” like you once did for a succession of 20-odd years.
8. You end a boozy night out having a soup made of cow intestines. And no night out is a night out without booze. Preferably good ole raki.
9. And no night out starts before midnight.
10. You find yourself debating the possibility of a massive earthquake which will supposedly hit Istanbul in the next thirty years – actually by my last calculations, make that 18.
11. The evening news on your TV features half an hour footage on carnage on motorways dead bodies with various limbs missing barely covered with newspapers. Cue “melodramatic” music in the background.
12. The entertainment shows on your TV last at least three hours.
13. There is at least one soap every night the whole family sits down to get lost in for the next three hours and if you miss an episode, not to worry, there is always a friend/neighbour/shopkeeper down the road willing to put aside an hour of their day summarising the plot blow by blow for you.
14. Sunflower seeds are the snack of choice for a night in watching TV.
15. Every other program on your TV seems to feature a dozen of long-legged women dancing around in skimpy outfits.
16. However, you are more than likely to get groped by some “maganda” (a country bumpkin who’s made his way to the streets of Istanbul in search of the mythical gold and glitter but finds it too much of a challenge to keep his wandering eyes off a woman’s boobs or backside) the moment you dare to step out on the street in a skimpy outfit.
17. At least once you’ve commuted hand on heart and risked life or limbs on a minibus – a form of public transport consisting of a psychotic driver who’s got delusions of being on a Formula 1 track, his assistant that hangs on for dear life on the side door still seemingly trying to look cool, shouting out the destination (‘Aksaray, Aksaray!) and a dozen passengers huddled together like sardines in a tin. And indicate? How does that work?
18. You know at least one person who thinks yoghurt is the magical cure for every disease.
19. And another person who thinks going around barefoot is the cause of all major ailments.
20. You pull your earlobe, make a kissing sound with your lips and touch wood to ward off evil.
21. Any ill that might come your way is a sign of the much-feared “evil eye” and hence you decorate your house and ornament your clothes with some blue beads to ward off the “evil eye.”
22. You have at least once carried sugar cubes, blessed with prayers at a mosque, as a lucky charm to an exam.
23. You’ve spent a good deal of your life taking off your shoes as you walk into a house and putting on a pair of slippers.
24. And you’ve been to houses where they keep slippers of all shapes, sizes and colours for guests.
25. You’ve been chased around the house, at least once, by your mom brandishing that fatal weapon: her slipper. And the chances are you’ve taken refuge in front of the telly, ’cause what would Daddy say if that slipper did any damage to his most prized gadget?
26. Your family would probably disown you if you became a vegetarian. No meat? What nonsense?
27. You get charged four times more than Russian tourists to holiday in the same Turkish resort.
28. You require a visa to travel to more than half the world’s countries – including Honduras, Moldova and Togo, yes!
29. You get offended by food labels in other countries labelling your own food “Greek feta”, “Greek yoghurt” or “Greek humus”…
30. You dislike the Greeks because they are “our rivals” but you like them because they’re “our neighbours.”
31. You are inclined to dance to any tune, including the banging and clunking of kitchen crockery.
32. People pretty much take it for granted that you can belly-dance simply because you’re Turkish and “it’s your traditional dance, right?”
33. You have at least been asked once whether you speak Arabic or Greek in Turkey. Just a hint: It begins with Turk…
34. You live in a country where two guys going out for a meal is not considered “gay.” And where people actually pay to go to clubs where the entertainer’s biggest selling point is his sexual orientation or recent sex change.
35. When you don your latest Nike trainers or your Gucci bag, it is highly likely that someone will ask you whether they are real or fake.
36. You probably know the hairiest man in the world, or better yet, are related to him.
37. ‘Spawn of donkey’ or ‘bear’ are words that are considered to be pretty offensive insults in your native language.
38. You wouldn’t be able to talk if your hands were amputated.
39. You greet friends with a kiss on each cheek and a hug. Even if you are both male, yes.
40. You greet your elders by kissing their hand.
41. You call people who are older than you aunt, uncle or brother even if you are not related by blood.
42. You are not offended when the guy behind the market stall or the street vendor greets you as “Auntie.”
43. You are not reaching for your camera to quickly snap a shot when you see a street vendor shouting out “Vegetable seller is here, ladies!”
44. Nor do you reach out to call the police when you see a kid walking on the motorway selling handkerchiefs or bottled water or ‘simit’ or CDs for your car.
45. In fact you slow down, wind down, buy a “simit” (Turkish sesame bagel) and a tape; nibble on your ‘simit’ in the heavy traffic whilst listening to your CD.
46. Any slow song has the power to make you cry.
47. Any slow song after a broken heart and one too many drinks has the power to push you to depression and suicidal thoughts. You’re Turkish and prone to your fair share of melodrama, accept it, deal with it, get over it. It’s in your DNA.
48. Not only do you have water surrounding your corner of the world on three sides, you tend to enjoy sitting at the water’s edge contemplating your life when you’re depressed.
49. You spend half your lifetime complaining about your country and your people, and the other half proudly announcing to the world you are Turkish and you are proud of it.
50. You read this list and go, “Oh yeah, I’ve got all 49!”by