How to fight Istanbul’s hillbillies – II
BELGİN AKALTAN - firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Sıla Özçelik, from facebook.com/ istanbulpeopleWow… What a reaction-filled week. Thanks for writing, enjoying and laughing regarding my piece last week. Thanks for also not liking and letting me know this with your “kindest” words.
That just proves my point. These hillbillies are everywhere; they sometimes speak English. I really don’t understand the motive in writing to an author, probably not knowing that Belgin is a woman’s name, that I am a hole in a back. As if our home-grown hayseeds were not enough, we have also imported some more.
The comment I liked best is “Excellent instructions, to get the cr*p beaten out of you.”
My belief that people should take a course before they start living in a city has multiplied. I still don’t understand the logic of defending a person who is extremely rude to others, and in order to defend that rude person, being rude to the writer?
I understand that “redneck” is an offensive word, especially to American ears. Read it as hillbilly, hayseed, country hick, dumbbell, moron…
My beloved former editor, Haluk Şahin, journalist, academic and television producer made the following comment about the piece: “Turkey’s Arte Buchwald at it again! (Please note the “e” after Art to make it feminine:))”
There are some who found it hilarious and others who found it racist and unprofessional… Anyway, here are the rest of my instructions to counterattack the jerks of Istanbul.
By the way, how do you actually recognize a hillbilly? A jerk does not know how to act in a sophisticated environment, or in any place more complicated than a hayfield. For instance, a bus is too complicated for them. They only think of themselves. They hate women, but what’s new in that? They hate women who speak – again, what’s new? They talk exceptionally loud on the phone, using words and describing situations that are never appropriate in public or in private.
Because they or their mothers have rural origins, they don’t know that city life requires more self-care than village life - such as washing and changing your clothes more often.
Anyway, have you heard of “kapıcı” brutality? The kapıcı (doorman) is the live-in superintendent in Turkish apartment buildings, usually with a lot of noisy children. They are generally nice people and I get along very well with them, but some are jerks.
I did not know about kapıcı oppression until a single woman living alone told me about it. I’m told that if you are a single woman - or two women like a mother and a daughter living together - with a little money to spare for the kapıcı, it is then that the kapıcı terror starts. If you cannot afford to give him enough tips, then he starts bullying you.
Reasoning leads me to think they would oppress single foreign women too. I think they would. It just fits the picture. I know what waiters do: They tend to become extremely friendly with single foreign women and that attitude is taken as flirting, sometimes leading to romantic relationships and sometimes leading to international scandals with underage “unofficial” marriages. (Oh, I will get loads of angry mails again, from ex-waiters…)
I don’t know how to fight kapıcı brutality; it has never happened to me. However, in my late mother’s apartment building the kapıcı was the boss. He was fired three times and has still found his way back. He oppresses the entire building. They can’t do anything about it. They will have to get the building knocked down as part of “urban transformation” to get rid of Kapıcı Ahmet and his bitchy wife Ayşe.
Meanwhile, if a jerk somewhere calls out to you “Hey, uncle,” then ask him, “Am I your uncle?” If he calls out “Mother,” then ask him “Am I your mother?” For “aunty,” ask the same, “Am I your aunt?”
But “Abla” is good. Abla means “big sister” in Turkish. It is a very polite and nice word. Encourage them to call you “abla.” (It implies you are young.)
I had a hilarious incident once. Let me see if it will be funny in written form. Two very young boys - they must have been about 10 - approached me at a swimming pool from behind one summer day. One of them said “abla,” while the other protested, “She is not abla, look, she is ‘teyze’ (aunt).” The first was insistent. So they both walked around my Kim Kardashian back and started to look at me from the front, trying to decide what I was. “Look, abla…” “No, she is teyze, can’t you see?” I was choking with maddening laughter. With the first breath I caught, I told them “I am not abla or teyze. I am granny, I am nana.” But they were too young to get the joke.
I am yet to find the proper answers to jerk questions such as “Did you buy your driving license from the bakkal [neighborhood shop]?” when on the road. Or “Are you a lawyer/teacher?” when you are good at defending yourself.
There is also a good line for taxi drivers when they complain about your destination. Tell them in a serious tone, “Where do you want me to go, I’ll go there.” Or better still, “Which neighborhood do you like the most? I will move there.”
Put your seats in an upright position: What do you do when the person in front of you pushes the back of his/her seat to your nose, not leaving any air for you to breath? I have had bad experiences on this point. I was once about to get beaten by a doctor’s wife on a Moscow plane, so I am very weak on that. On the company shuttle bus, I sometimes feebly say “This is not a dormitory.” But it does not work all the time. This needs improving.
Also, there are those men, young boys, who sit with their legs apart occupying one and a half person’s space, leaving you half of the seat. Or there are sometimes those whose elbow is pressing against one of your breasts. I have developed special moves such as “accidentally” kicking or elbowing them and then apologizing, but these tactics also need advancing.
Could we say: “Kırlent ister misin?” or “Do you want a pillow?”