Our Street

We wanted to write about our first impressions of our street.  This way we will be able to see how our perceptions develop as we go on living here, as the seasons change, as the year turns.  As we get to know our neighbours as families and individuals.

The street traffic is mostly tractors and small motorcycles.  Agricultural trailers are frequently parked up.  Cars are actually a rarity.  There are a couple of women living locally who wear sleevless tops and no scarves – they have turned up here in taxis but the cars have never parked here for long.  There was an estate car here yesterday but we think the driver was selling something.  Despite being in a town it has more of a feel of a village agricultural community.

Children play football, hopscotch and other games.  They ride bicycles if they have them.  Just around the corner we saw a child ride his bicycle right into the back of a truck.  Neither was hurt.  I’ve seen children playing a game similar to the one I knew as jacks when I was a kid – we threw a ball up into the air then picked up special pieces – as many as you can before you catch the ball again.  Here it was being played with big stones and smaller stones.

Some of the local women sit out on the street, gossiping, or talking.  Not sure what they are talking about.  This is mostly in the evenings.  By day they are in their houses – sometimes we can hear the television but mostly, we suspect, they are working inside.  Last night (again, not on our actual street but in the neighbourhood) we saw an old woman weaving on a hand loom.  We see a lot of women working with their hands on balconies in the evenings – looks like they are doing something like tatting.

There are dogs living in some of the houses, opposite us lives a rather good looking Rottweiler.  Someone told us they are an illegal breed here but I’m not sure whether that is true.  We have only ever seen the Rottweiler in its own garden.  We’ve been told that it has wandered the streets alone and frightened the children.

There are many cats; most seem to live in the shared bin on the corner.  If they don’t live there they certainly gather there for cat social events and it can get noisy at times.   We’re beginning to recognise some of the neighbourhood regulars.  There’s an old tabby Tom with a foul temper.  He hissed at Hilary when she found him asleep in the sun on the terrace and, apparently, once, when our landlady was chasing him, he responded by leaving an ‘offering’ on the doormat.  There is a white cat with a ginger head and a tabby tail – a surprisingly attractive combination.

This shared bin is emptied on a daily basis – the cats do not seem to mind.  Presumably they get fresh food daily.  The garbage truck comes every morning.  Today someone swept the entire street.  We’re not sure whether this is part of the belediye service or whether he did it out of the goodness of his heart or just because he was fed up with the mess and the dust.

There is a local shop nearby.  It sells bread, mineral water, sweets and all kinds of stuff.  We have bought jam there and cling film which is called stretch film in Turkish (only with a Turkish ch) and dolap poseti (cupboard bag) by the man who works in the shop.

A lot of cooking happens outside; the air is scented with wood smoke.  This evening our neighbours are cooking a stew or soup, more likely soup given it is Ramazan, over a small fire pit.

We can sit on our roof terrace after dark enjoying the cooler temperatures and taking in the sounds and smells of the street.  Drinking beer is optional.

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4 responses to “Our Street

  1. Michelle Youens

    Thanks Hilary and Ashley for your informative insight into the turkish way of life. I have a couple of questions! why do you think there are so few cars, is it because of the price or just the people in the village you are in do not need them to commute? do you pay ‘council tax’ as you explain how clean the street is and that rubbish is emptied every day? do you cover up Hilary or does it seem that this is a changing culture and females covering up is more slack (slack may be the wrong word!) than it used to be? are there mosquitos!!! (the most horrible things I can think off, worse than wasps!) I have a lot more questions but will leave you be for now!!

    Michelle

    • Hi Michelle,
      Most of the people on our street work in agriculture so they need tractors. Cars are very expensive here and, as people can get what they need locally and it’s cheap to travel by minivan and bus, the people round here don’t feel a need for them. Or maybe can’t afford them. – though tractors are not cheap. Minimum wage here in Turkey is very low – which is why the cost of living is affordable.. There is an evironmental tax which is the equivalent of council tax (only a lot less) – there are communal bins which do get emptied every day. Except (as we learned tonight) on Wednesdays (when there is a local market). Many of the women here dress modestly (covered legs and arms) but the fully covered thing is not common in Turkey. Most womem you see wearing Hijab are tourists from the Arab nations. Some Turkish women do wear the ‘Islamic’ headscarf but this is seen as a political statement and is not the norm on our street!

      I try to dress reasonably modestly but I do wear sleevless tops when it gets hot (unless I’m in a very traditional area when I would try to wear a t-shirt with sleeves).

      The belediye send a truck round every night to spray against mosquitoes so we do not see many of them. There is a river flood plain nearby which would be a natural breeding ground for them so I am glad that the spraying happens (though less happy when it occurs whilst we are eating on the terrace).

  2. A wonderful description of a place where time forgot. Even in modern, bustling Bodrum scratch the surface and you’ll find many of the activities you write about. Old and new, Turkey’s contradictions are wonderful.

  3. We’re on the opposite side of the tracks from the two tourist streets and the market. Economically (and culturally) our neighbours do seem very mixed. But we have a lot to learn and observe before we comment.

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