Merging Worlds

It was wonderful being home. I loved spending time with my family, being a part of special events, catching up with friends, and having a few of my favorite dishes. It also gave me some time for reflection, and I couldn’t help but miss many aspects of my Turkish life. Some of these things I brought along to introduce to my family, like a Turkish tea pot, tulip glasses for sipping Turkish tea in, Turkish coffee pots, and of course tea and coffee to fill both items.

A Turkish coffee pot for my sister-in-law

A Turkish coffee pot for my sister-in-law

Sharing Turkish culture with my American family

Sharing Turkish culture with my American family

Türk kahvesi in America

Türk kahvesi in America

Evil eyes for and from my friends

Evil eyes for and from my friends

Turkish tea for breakfast

Turkish tea for breakfast

As I reconnected with people at home, I tried to think of the best way to describe my current life. I have grown accustomed to so many things, but being away for a bit has reminded me that these are actually different than what people in other parts of the world are used to. Here I thought I would summarize parts of what contribute to my world in Turkey:

One aspect of Turkish life that one won’t hear in America includes the call to prayer, or ezan, which happens five times every day. The first is within the five o’clock hour in the early morning. This does not wake me, although it’s very loud and I live right next to the neighborhood mosque. No, hundreds of people do not flock to the mosque in order to pray. Some do, but it serves more as a reminder to get one’s prayers in for the day. Regardless of your religious beliefs, taking time throughout the day for reflection is important for anyone’s well-being, so I try to utilize this opportunity.

Neighborhood mosque

Neighborhood mosque

I realize I have promised this before, but next up will be a post on tea in Turkey. This is so much a part of everyday here I admit I sometimes take it for granted.

Turkish tea

Turkish tea

I love Turkish tea!

I love Turkish tea!

Anywhere and everywhere

Anywhere and everywhere, and always accompanied by beet sugar

Turkish coffee is also part of my daily life here, but I have written on that before.

a cup of Turkish coffee

a cup of Turkish coffee at a student’s home

Turkish coffee at Zeugma Museum

Turkish coffee at Zeugma Museum

I live in a rich agricultural region, and am so very grateful. The neighborhood farmer’s market, or pazar, occurs every Thursday, but these also happen throughout town on other days of the week. When the actual pazar is not occurring, the mom and pop markets carry fresh fruit and vegetables, or you can often purchase them from a cart or vehicle on the side of the road. Basically, we have fresh produce straight from the ground at rock bottom prices at any and all times. Heaven!

A small example of the weekly bounty in Osmaniye

A small example of the weekly bounty in Osmaniye

Plentiful peppers

Plentiful peppers

Peppers abound

Peppers abound

Eggplant and cucumbers are two absolute staples

Eggplant and cucumbers are two absolute staples

Neighborhood pazar

Neighborhood pazar

Banana man

Banana man

Along with plentiful vegetables come perfect breakfasts. Breakfast was one of my favorite aspects of German culture, especially on the weekends. I must say, outside of the cheese and bread selection, Turkey might even do a better job. Here we include tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheeses, eggs, meats and bread on our breakfast table. And Turkish tea and coffee, of course.

Turkish breakfast

Turkish breakfast on the balcony

Salad of olives, tomatoes, parsley and green onions

Salad of olives, tomatoes, parsley and green onions

Turkish breakfast laid out fancy at a restaurant

Turkish breakfast laid out fancy at a restaurant

Dolmuş action. I do not have a car. Driving in Turkey is… more exhilarating than in the States. I have driven a rental car here before, but in general, I use public transportation for everything. This might be a big bus or a little bus, a big van or a little van, as well as the occasional airplane, personal vehicle, taxi or donkey (Just kidding. I have yet to ride in a cart or on a donkey!). But the dolmuş is probably my favorite, just because it can be such an interesting experience. You never know when you will end up holding a baby or sitting on a massive vat of homemade cheese. Unlike experiences in other countries, I really haven’t had many encounters with animals sharing my dolmuş so far, so this makes it seem pretty civilized.

The new Osmaniye Otogar, and fancy new city buses

The new Osmaniye Otogar, and fancy new city buses

The bus we generally take into the city center

The bus we generally take into the city center from our neighborhood by the university

The view from a dolmuş

The view from a dolmuş

bussing along

bussing–and often bumping– along

It can get pretty fancy

It can get pretty fancy

I am from a land of divine sunscapes (sunrises and sunsets), but thankfully, they also exist here.

Neighborhood sunset

Neighborhood sunset

Sunrise in the Osmaniye Province

Sunrise in the Osmaniye Province, with a castle in the forefront

Sunset in the mountains

Sunset in the mountains

Osmaniye is known for peanuts, our major crop. Peanuts are good, but just down the road an hour and a half is Gaziantep, which is the pistachio capital of the world. I love pistachios. Around here, where there are pistachios, there is baklava, and it is so so good.

Peanut shrine in Osmaniye

Peanut shrine in Osmaniye

Peanuts!

Peanuts!

Baklava to go

Baklava to go

So. Much. Baklava.

So. Much. Baklava.

Always peanuts.

Always peanuts.

Whole, shelled, covered in chocolate...

Whole, shelled, covered in chocolate…

Antep fistik

Antep fistik

Constant construction. Maybe this isn’t the case across all of Turkey, but here in Osmaniye, buildings, streets, sidewalks, and various forms of infrastructure are going up all around us, all the time. We were warned, but had no idea we would see so much change in a such a short amount of time. It’s really exciting, and keeps us on our toes. One really never knows what the next day might bring here, including perhaps a new building or even a new forest! Twice so far entire fields on our campus have been transformed overnight into forests, meaning hundreds of trees have been planted. Since we have been here, countless establishments have opened in our neighborhood, the main street was paved, new statues are going up, sidewalks have been installed, and the list goes on and on.

This field was empty a mere two months ago.

This field was empty a mere two months ago.

Then it started becoming a meeting space...

Then it started becoming a meeting space…

And trees were added

And trees were added

There are always construction projects going on around campus and in the neighborhood.

There are always construction projects going on around campus and in the neighborhood.

About the neighborhood

About the neighborhood

Typical neighborhood scenes

Typical neighborhood scenes

Of course, I’m fond of encounters with people in all areas of daily life. There is still a language barrier, but I’m working on it. However, I do encounter German speakers on a regular basis here, which generally leads to some sort of interesting experience, whether it’s in the bus station, at the market, or wandering through winding streets in a small town. Most of these people were Gastarbeiter in Deutschland in the 1960s and 70s, and many spent from ten to thirty years there. I don’t know how often they get to speak German anymore, so they are always eager to chat, and I never fail to come away with a wealth of new information.

Vendor in Malatya

Vendor in Malatya

Another German speaking friend in Malatya

Another German speaking friend in Malatya

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start. It’s safe to say I appreciate where I am from, and I also appreciate where I am now. Though they are thousands of miles apart, Oklahoma and Osmaniye have more in common than the number of letters in their names and O’s to start them out. The technology available to us today makes these worlds seem all the more closer, and makes it possible for me to share my observations with you, wherever you might be reading from.

Mosque in the evening

Mosque in the evening

3 thoughts on “Merging Worlds

  1. Fabulous pictures, Latasha, and a wonderful narrative to go with it.  The food looks heavenly.  How fortunate to have all that produce fresh right from the field.  It would seem that the diet would lead to a very healthy population.  Thank you so much for sharing.  Sharon

  2. hello teacher ! Turkey promotion very nice , I hope my city photos on the site I would like to see ..Very helpful,
    informative turkey introducing the best blog to say,good work görüşürüz 🙂

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