Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011 - 2 comments

Both Ends of the Bus Route

Starbucks Turkey has recently made an addition to its repertoire that makes living in this country even tastier. Stroopwafels - delectable Dutch caramel waffle cookies, perfect when left to soften on the rim of your coffee cup before being dunked into your steaming drink. No more special orders to friends passing through the Amsterdam Airport - we've got access right downtown!

On Friday as I was out doing errands, I stopped in at a Starbucks other than my "usual" one to pick up a stack of the cookies for a gathering at our house that night. Tired from running around the city all afternoon, I sat down and paused for a cup of tea. (I'd already exceeded my limit for coffee for the day, but I'm always up for an excuse to sit down at Starbucks!) As I observed the other patrons, I had a "we're not in Kansas anymore" moment. The fact that I was in a more upper-class part of town was evidenced by the complete lack of headscarves and the abundance of tight pants, aviators, and miniature, sweater-clad dogs tied to chair legs. The scene looked like something straight out of a New York cafe - the model/mafia/movie star/millionaire set, dressed to the nines, flirting and negotiating over their lattes and iPhones. Feeling rather underdressed myself, I laughed as I realized that those imaginary people I see on the Istanbul soap operas aren't so exaggerated after all - in fact, they are real, and me and my Earl Grey were surrounded by them!

Leaving the jumble of BMWs and Mercedes in the parking lot, I crossed the street and caught my bus home. As the kilometres clicked by, condos gave way to farm land, and miniskirts to village pants. When I got home, I headed straight up to the terrace with a book - a habit I am trying to create room for at the end of each day. But just as I was settling in, voices out in the olive grove behind our complex caught my attention. Squinting through the trees, I spotted a couple of crouching ladies and the flicker of a fire. Right about that time, the delicious smell of woodsmoke reached my nose and made my stomach growl. I grabbed my camera and headed out back to check out the action, thinking that this could be the opportunity for both interesting photos and an excuse not to have to make dinner.

Turns out I was right on both counts. I was greeted by the sight of four of my neighbour ladies, our gardener, and a crackling fire. The women formed an efficient assembly line, three of them mixing and kneading dough while the fourth cooked the flatbread over the fire. These particular women are the jokers of the complex, and they quickly had me laughing as they recounted their day of bread making. I was more interested in getting photos before the light faded, and they were more interested in feeding me. In the end, they won out and had me running into the house for more eggs and oil for them to make me some gozleme - flatbread filled with potatoes or cheese. When it got too dark to shoot, I took on the duty of keeping everyone's tea glasses filled while they loaded me up a plate full of gozleme to take home.

As I looked around at these ladies I love - ladies I live happily among, ladies I share my everyday life with - I tried to imagine them in the middle of the Starbucks crew of two hours prior. These two social groups likely originated from the very same Anatolian hometowns, but the juxtaposition of village pants and leather jackets was too much for even my imagination. They live an hour's drive and a world apart.

And me, in my jeans and a hoodie - I can sip a Caramel Macchiato at three o'clock and a cup of tea cooked over the fire at four. I not from either crowd, but I move - albeit awkwardly - amongst them both. I'm from a bus stop somewhere in between.


i love this little glimpse into your world, jamie! would've been fun to have some pictures of little dogs in stylish sweaters chained to chairs to go along with these :)

Yeah....all I need is the guts to take pictures in that sort of an atmosphere! Somehow village ladies are more willing than uppities..... :)