in which I deploy my Turkish language skillz

I guess my days here at Zincirli have pretty much come to an end, for this year at least. Very, very early tomorrow morning (even by archaeological standards) I’ll be traveling to Istanbul and will spend my final 4 days in Turkey there, visiting various museums and sites of historical interest. Two other women are traveling with me and one of them is also going to be staying in Istanbul, so I won’t be all on my own.
But even if I was, I believe that I proved yesterday that I’d totally be able to get around by myself with my awesome Turkish language skillz. About half the time we go into the nearest large town, Islahiye, for lunch at a lokanta there. There’s lots of shops there filled with wildly varying goods & services for sale. Among other things, I have purchased there a set of plastic drawers in which to keep my belongings, some work gloves, Pepsi and Coke, numerous Magnum (an ice cream brand) bars and other important items of groceries such as Biskrem cookies (cookies with chocolate cream inside). I have seen for sale, but have not purchased, clothing such as the “Weep Jeans” brand, lots of pastries, fruit, pistachios, and other goodies, any plastic item you could possibly want, and lots of other things.
Yesterday I had a few items of business to conduct, and I conducted them entirely in Turkish, as follows:
At lunch, I wanted some “lamajun,” a kind of super-flat bread with peppers and possibly meat smashed onto and adhering to the surface (again, better than at sounds). “Lamajun var mi?” (“Is there lamajun?”) I asked the restaurant guy. He shook his head with a slightly amused smile. I wound up with rice, same as every other day. But at least I tried.
I needed to buy more minutes for my phone, so I burst into the Turkcell office brandishing my phone and stating confidently, “Istiyorim iki yuz elli…” (“I want two hundred and fifty…”). At that point I trailed off. “Kontur?” asked the helpful salespeople. Fortunately, I knew that word because I’d seen it on the receipts I’ve been compiling for the dig accounts (I *am* an archaeologist, really).
“Kontur!” I replied happily. I held out my visa and the lady took it. Seconds later she handed me it back with my receipt. Did I need to do anything with my phone to make the time show up, I wondered? I searched my Turkish vocabulary for helpful words. “Ne yapiyorim?” I hazarded (“What am I doing?”). She seemed confused. “Bilmiyorum…” I continued (“I don’t know…”). Smiling, she took my phone and showed me that the time was already there. “Chok kolay!” (“Very easy!”) I said. “Teshekkur ederim!” (Thank you!). On to the next task–the most important of all.
I raced along the streets, my expert eye scanning the store fronts for that most important item of all, the one I simply could not go home without. Only two minutes left before I had to be back at the van, and all I saw was purses, shoes, pastries, dustbusters, bicycles, and jewelry stores–all useless to me. Finally I spotted two of my fellow Zincirli people, and they pointed me in the right direction.
I steamed into the store at top speed, circling the shelves, but I didn’t see what I needed. Various Turkish males watched me with bemused expressions. Finally one approached me with a helpful smile.
“Magnum bar?” (“Magnum bar?”) I asked, hands folded in appeal. “Dondurma?” (“Ice cream?”). “Magnum!” he replied, nodding. He led me to the freezer, and there it was in all its glory, my very favorite Magnum Beyaz (Magnum White). Two lira lighter and one Magnum bar heavier, I sped back to the van with seconds to spare.
Magnum bars are not like U.S. ice cream bars, with their phony styrofoam ice cream and waxy chocolate-colored coating. The Magnum White consists of vanilla ice cream with little chocolate chips in it, covered with delicious white chocolate with almonds stuck in it. Yum. And now it was mine, all thanks to my fluent Turkish and willingness to
provide amusement to the citizens of Islahiye at my own expense.

3 Responses to “in which I deploy my Turkish language skillz”

  1. KDC says:

    Great! I always enjoy a rollicking language buffoonery story! Sounds like you did okay.

  2. Jeff says:

    Do you know how to say dry ice in Turkish? To tempt us with your description of Magnum, only to leave them on that side of the wretched ocean is just cruel, possible unusual. Do they have the one with the caramel in it there?

  3. michele says:

    Heh, I don’t know if they have the caramel ones, I got stuck on the Magnum Beyaz and never looked farther. Better yet, you should start importing them and open an ice cream shop==you’d make a fortune.

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