Tag Archives: çay

Murphy’s law

It was not the worst of all possible times for the gas to run out.  We were not expecting people for dinner.  We were, however, just frying the chicken when the gas started to stutter then went out.  It was around 20:00 on a Saturday night.  The gas supplier was closed. They do not open on a Sunday.  It’s fortunate that we have a two-ring gas stove in the back house and that had not run out.

Hilary had to run between houses with a hot pan full of chicken schnitzel…  Fortunately the rest of the dishes were cooked during the afternoon.

Sunday’s breakfast soup had to be warmed up and tea made in the back house.  Sunday dinner was prepared in the usual place and taken to the back house for cooking.

First thing on Monday we phoned the gas…  Tea and soup were made in the front house today!

Either we use a lot more cooker gas in winter or the cylinders are not evenly filled.   Most seem to last about two months but the one we got last April was good till October….   In winter we have tea on the stove for hours, cook beans, and stews.  In summer we probably use a lot less gas.

They say that natural gas is coming, piped in from Izmir.  It may happen in time, like the Metro which is also meant to be coming.  In time.  But until then we are subject the vagaries of gas bottles and Murphy’s Law.

Health Insurance

Putting plans for the future aside we decided it was a good day for sorting out another of the basic essentials of life in Turkey. This may have been galvanised by Ashley having had a cold for the last few days and feeling quite unwell. Today we took ourselves off to Kuşadası and sorted out health insurance. This is needed since we are living here, our travel insurance has sort of covered it given we have been back and forth, but, longer term, getting local health insurance is a very good idea. At the present time Turkish state health insurance is probably not available to us, the situation is confusing and may change soon. We did not think it wise to wait.

We were given some quotes a couple of weeks ago so returned to that particular office with a few questions. When we got there the agent was at lunch, we decided to waste some time doing nothing much in particular and return later. Given it was pleasantly warm in the sun we went to a tea garden on the seafront, drinking tea is a great way to fill time, the Gűvercinli tea garden is particularly pleasant and very good value. The name means ‘Place with doves’ (loose translation) and it is run by the Belediye (roughly equivalent to the local council). The collared dove is a symbol of Kuşadası – the name Kuşadası itself means bird island. The tea garden opened last year, we think, it has fountains, a children’s play park and tables pushed right up against the waterside. It’s self-service and incredibly cheap considering the wonderful situation.

We had started to do a little window shopping which is much easier to do in Kuşadası in January than during tourist season, and bought a pair of combat pants, before we were called by the agent to let us know he had returned from lunch. We met, had some questions answered, talked a little about the various schemes, made some decisions. The only documentation requested was Residence Permits and we were asked for kimlik numbers, all of which we thoughtfully had to hand. We had some forms filled out, drank more tea, paid some money, and walked out with health insurance for both of us.

Sun and beach in November

It may be cold at night, but during the day the sun can be really pleasant despite the cool air.  We spent some time yesterday  afternoon with a friend walking on Pamucak beach, it was really good to get out in the sun and stroll, chat, catch up with recent news and events.  After the stroll we chatted further over tea in one of the beachside places that is still open, and plans to be open all winter.  It was warm enough to sit outside, to mix chat and tea with people watching.   Some of the high heels on which people were attempting to walk on the sand were quite amazing, there were people riding horses, and Ashley was interested in the quad bikes parked up nearby.

For a while this afternoon it was pleasant to sit on our roof terrace, watching the young man who lives across the road doing something mysterious with his pet pigeons, various bird life flying around the roofs and gardens and smoke rising from neighbours’ chimneys (not to mention the fire in the communal bin).

Tea and Coffee

Back in the UK I pretty much existed on coffee.  By choice real coffee, commonly Café Nero on Chiswick High Road, a quick espresso and a glass of water if in a hurry or a more leisurely Americano if I had time.   About the only time I would drink instant coffee was at home prior to the morning dash to work.  Even then I would only touch the really good stuff and I drank it strong, with sugar, and never allowed any cow juice to get near the coffee.

I am not averse to other forms of coffee.  I enjoyed real coffee in Jordan, spiced with cardamom.  I have no problem with Turkish coffee, it is much the same as Greek coffee, black, very strong, usually very sweet and with a large quantities of grounds in the bottom of the tiny cup.  I prefer this sort of coffee with a little sugar and naturally with a glass of cold water, it does however not match the sheer delight of a good espresso.

I guess it comes as no surprise that I like coffee in Italy.   Italians seem to understand how to make coffee properly.

So here I am in a country where tea is pretty much the national drink.  I tried the local instant coffee, an expensive brand, it is a bit like regular Nescafe granules, so in my view not very nice at all.  I considered getting the local pan and ground coffee to make Turkish coffee, but well, it is not espresso.  I have looked around market and in shops for one of those stove top espresso machines, the hexagonal ones that work so well.  So far I have not found one, and neither have I found any Italian ground coffee.

I switched to tea.  Got a Turkish style teapot, bought some tea glasses, browsed the supermarket shelves for varieties of tea, and did some research on how Turkish tea is made.  I settled on the local earl grey, which turned out to be lightly flavoured with bergamot, and delicious.

Making Turkish tea is not difficult.  There are two pots one on top of the other.  The bottom pot is filled with cold water, then tea with a little cold water goes in the upper pot, which is placed on top of the lower pot, and the lower pot brought to the boil.  The upper pot is then filled with boiling water which uses roughly half of the water from the bottom pot.  Return the whole thing to the stove on a very low light to keep the bottom pot on simmer, which keeps the upper pot hot.  The tea should be ready to serve in 5 to 10 minutes and will stay good for considerably longer.  Use a combination of tea from the upper pot and hot water from the bottom according to taste.

No doubt when I am back in the UK a trip to Café Nero will happen.  No doubt when in Italy I will be consuming coffee (and ice cream).  No doubt at times I will think fondly of Lavazza.  But right now, in Turkey, I am really enjoying tea.

Customer Service

We did a lot of business in Turkey today in Kuşadasi and in Selçuk.  We encountered banks and other professionals.  It’s quite different from doing business in the UK.  For a start, we have not made appointments; we’ve just wandered in and taken our chances.  This has led to waiting around in air conditioned offices whilst the staff deal with people who came in before us.  When the wait is long we have been offered çay, coffee and water.

We’ve achieved quite a lot with the banks in terms of organising our money.  I can access my Turkish accounts on the Internet which, being who I am, I find very reassuring.  The process, however, took up most of today.

The people who have dealt with us (in English) have been quite delightful and, probably irrelevantly, very attractive.  They work incredibly hard.  The lady who helps us here in Selçuk told me I could phone her any time up till 19:00.  I am sure she works at least a twelve hour day, yet she is always helpful.  When I thanked the lady who helps us at the Kuşadasi bank she told me she was just doing her job.  They smile at us, they recognise us, they make us feel like individually valued customers.  Occasionally I have come across that in the UK (the chap at the bank in Paddington who helped me set up the Turkish account for instance) but those people are the exceptions.  Here they seem to be the rule.  The minimal contacts we have had with officialdom have gone much the same way.  The men in the passport office in Kuşadasi were extremely helpful and put straight the problems with the dates not having printed on the visas in our passports.  We were sent to the café to wait as opposed to being offered tea, but it was a very interesting place to sit.

Ashley thinks that the fact that I try to speak a little Turkish helps a lot.  I think it does help a bit.  Security guards soften a little when I try to explain why we need to go to a particular place.  People smile when I say something ‘unexpected’ even if it’s only ‘problem yok’ or ‘çok zor’ when they try to pronounce my name.  It does, of course, remain to be seen how things will go in Izmir when we go for our residents permits next week.

I think it’s a very different work ethic.  And different again from the kind of work we see going on around us in our street.  We understand that we have to wait…  We don’t like to move quickly in this hammering heat and I’m sure people who work 12 hour days don’t like to move too quickly either – even in the air conditioned offices.  The pace of life is slower and there is more time for the niceties.  I can understand that some people find this very frustrating but I go to these places expecting to have to wait and, nearly always, I wait less time than I had anticipated.