What is "washing" in Turkish?...

Now I have to say that I have travelled a fair bit, and a lot of it by myself. I don't speak another language, but I have always managed to learn the basics to get by in each country, from "bonjour" in France, "ciao, come stai?" in Italy to "dobro jutro" in Croatia; this has been simple enough. But Turkish on the other hand I cannot speak a word of, and it doesn't sound even remotely familiar or easy to pick up. I feel completely useless in my hotel when the staff greet me, I find myself politely smiling and mumbling a greeting in English to them - I say it loud enough so they register I am making a response, but not so loud that they can actually make out what I am saying, so perhaps it could sound like Turkish... So when I get to work today I promise myself that I will speak to one of the guys that can speak English and get him to teach me the basics.

Again I get into the office, and straight to my office - no one would even know if I came in or not... But alas, someone does come by - an older Turkish guy (lets call him Fred) that doesn't speak much English, pops his head in the door, says hello, and then asks where I am from; when I say NZ, he replies "ok" then turns around and walks out. Interesting.

When I am in the lunch room, again in comes Fred, he pours himself a glass of water, finishes it while staring at me the whole time, then asks "Christchurch?", I say no but I am from the South Island, he smiles turns around and walks out. Ten minutes later he comes back for another glass of water, repeating the same motion as above, then says "you were in Croatia?" I say yes, he says "oh it is beautiful", I agree and say that I loved it. Again he turns around and walks out. And this was my conversation for the day.

Another day in the office done, and just before I leave my friend Kelly who is a nanny in Florence has emailed me. I email her back telling her what is going on in my life, and say that I have no idea what I am doing after Turkey, but if she knows of anyone that needs a nanny to let me know.

I walk myself home, feeling quite proud that I can walk around Istanbul quite confidently; though I must say that walking alongside highways (because there is no path) and construction sights is quite nerve-wrecking, and just walking around in general. Scooters weave in and out of the road and across pathways with no prior warning, and cars just seem to turn into streets out of nowhere and show no sign of slowing down. I have jumped out of the way, and have even been brushed by more than a handful of cars and scooters thus far (if my Dad ever read this he would kill me). If I manage to live in Istanbul for the month and not get hit by a car, I will consider it one of life's small miracles.

One disturbing thing I will never get used to seeing is the groups of children playing soccer on the footpath beside the busy motorway. I have to use all of my restraint not to take their ball off them and tell them to play somewhere safer - though this 'wider' footpath probably is the safest spot, as there are very few parks or spaces in Istanbul. It's times like these that you are grateful for growing up somewhere like NZ, where a backyard, open spaces and parks are just a given.

Anyway, safely back to my hotel and I really need to do some washing, so head to reception to ask about it (this should be fun). The two guys at reception don't really speak English, I ask "washing" they look at me blankly, I try the word "Laundry", still no comprehension. It is at his point that I become one of those ignorant tourists and try saying the word a little louder "WASHING" and slower "W-ASH-ING" as if that will make the difference.. they still look confused. So I try throwing in some actions as well - this has become a full blow game of shirades. After I few minutes we are not getting any closer to an understanding, so I say "don't worry" (knowing full well they probably wont understand this sentiment either). I am extremely flustered and embarrassed by this stage so I hurry back to my room. I get the feeling I may have to work out a way to wash all of my clothes myself...

After a few minutes there is a knock at my door - it is one of the guys from downstairs, he is now saying "television?" I try explain again, "no, washing" while pointing at my clothes. Finally another gentleman appears that can speak a few more words of English, I try once more "washing/laundry" then pick up my bag of clothes, and it seems to register with him; "no problem" he says, and takes the clothes away. I can only hope that he actually understood and that I haven't just donated all of my clothes to a guy down the road; I can just imagine walking past on my way to work seeing my entire wardrobe displayed for sale, and having to fight through the crowds to barter for at least my underwear back...

I throw myself on the bed feeling like one of those ignorant tourists that I hate, who don't speak a word of the language and get frustrated at the locals... one of the words I learnt today should have been washing! Just then there is another knock on the door, and I wonder what it could be this time. Now one of the guys is standing there with a cup of coffee for me (he clearly felt sorry for me), smiling, he hands it to me and says "goodnight". Well after all of that kufuffle, this is a very nice way to end the day. This place isn't so bad after all..

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