Saturday, December 14, 2013

Flashcards and a Duck

Heat!  I have Heat! (So of course today was the warmest day in two weeks)

The heating repair guy came today - at long last - and my landlady (who lives in Switzerland) arranged for Beyhan, the old woman downstairs, to come up here as a translator.  She spoke as much English as the repair guy, which is to say none at all.  Fortunately, I made a couple of flashcards to explain the problems I didn't think I could explain with gestures:

The young repair guy and the old woman were both very nice, but when I didn't understand their Turkish spoken normally, they shouted Turkish slowly and gesticulated wildly.  Pretty much like typical Americans confronted with people who don't speak English, as though increased volume and larger movements will somehow make it all clear.
I actually understood most of what the guy wanted to tell me:  there was a plug of nasty muck in the water pipe and he had to snake it out with a long wire (a relief to me - that means I'm not a dummy unable to operate a water heater and some radiators, my hypothesis was correct, and I couldn't have fixed it myself - and I'm also relieved I wasn't the one pulling that slimy black eew-y muck out).  Also, I shouldn't turn on the bathroom water heater ever.  Well, okay, I can turn it on if the balcony water heater breaks again, but only then.  (So why is it even installed?  It's clearly brand new!)  And here's the number to call if the system breaks again.  Call the number, say "Amerikalıyım" and give my address, slowly, in Turkish, and they'll understand and send someone out.  (I think that's what his pantomime meant...)
While the fellow was fixing the water heater, Beyhan wandered my apartment, picking up things and pointing at things, and shouting Turkish words at me.  Many of my possessions were "ҫok güzel" - "very good", some were just güzel.  Others, like the wonderful Shy Monster in a Box from the inimitable Chris Little, were...puzzling?  weird?  I don't know what Beyhan was trying to say.  Probably "AWESOME!"
I moved Dcük off the top shelf so you can see him.  Beyhan was quite taken by the duck.  I got the feeling she was hoping I would gift it to her.  Sometimes, culture is as much a challenge as language.  I knew enough to welcome her and the repair guy with "Ho geldiniz", to which they replied "Ho bulduk".  They offered to take their shoes off, and I told them they could leave them on (my floor is super-cold, and I'll mop tomorrow) - that was really inappropriate of me, apparently - Beyhan clicked her tongue and shook her head; one does NOT wear shoes in a Turkish house.  Beyhan was wearing house shoes, so that was okay, but the guy carried his shoes to the balcony and put them back on there.  Should I have offered water or coffee?  Should I have tipped the guy?
She liked my knitting and crochet and wants us to hang out together because she makes socks.  Maybe over coffee.  Something like that.  There was definitely "kahve" involved somehow, and she was pantomiming either knitting or breaking pencils.  (Anyone remember "breaking up is hard voodoo"?  Name that show?  I used to watch it every night in college.)  She had me put on my shoes and follow her down to her apartment, then she waved me away.  Did we set a date and time?  I'm not sure.  I don't want to stand her up.  Maybe she should have shouted louder and more slowly, and waved her arms bigger.
This chapter is closed for now, but the story will continue when I can get an electrician over here.  When the circuit breakers last popped, two of my lights went out - the only light in the bathroom I always use, and the bedroom I rarely use.  I finally changed the bulbs today, only to discover I have no electricity in the sockets - the bulbs themselves are probably fine.  Never mind - the emergency flashlight I'm using when I take a shower is actually brighter than the bathroom light ever was.
This post brought to you by the feral dogs in the park howling to the call to prayer. 

1 comment:

  1. If monster in a box can't break the language barrier then nothing can. ;)
    Chris =]