Having a bit of a carp can feel like a very satisfying thing to do – unless one happens to be on the receiving end when trying desperately to maintain a reasonably positive mental attitude, that is. J and I had a bit of a carp recently whilst we were visiting İznik. Actually, it wasn’t a carp, it was a catfish and a big bugger at that – 65kg! But I digress –
Where was I? Oh, yes! Carping! When we hail from a different culture or country or county we seem to find it easy to have a grumble about ‘them’ when things are going off at a tangent to the direction that we know they are supposed to go. You know what I mean; you’re in a hurry and the road is closed, the diversion sets you off in the opposite direction and then the signs run out! The man said he was definitely coming tomorrow (İnşallah!), you waited in and he never showed! That expensive DVD player went wrong the day after the guarantee expired and the bloke shrugged his shoulders and pointed at the latest model! ‘Never like this back home!’ you grumble, ‘we had rights!’ ‘Everything was much more organised back home in . .!’ you carp.
Been there – done that – got the bloody tee-shirt that dissolved the first time it was washed in that BEKO (made in China like all the rest) washing machine! So here I offer you an uplifting little true story about the stupid way they do things in this arse-about-face adopted country of ours – are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin;
I have a very dear and courageous friend from my village by the name of Gülay. Gülay is engeli – disabled/differently-abled, or, according to the sign that used to be on the toilet block at Ephesus – ‘Defective’! I’m deadly serious, that’s what it said. Anyway, after the accident 11 years ago that left her paralysed from the chest down, Gülay taught herself to paint and these days she is pretty, bloody good at it! She loves to do portraits and the like and would dearly love to earn her living from doing these some day – meanwhile she creates beautiful and original gifts using stones, tins, buckets, jars etc. Gülay is anything but ‘Defective’!
Earlier this year she contacted a company in İzmir which produces really nice enameled buckets in various sizes. She explained her situation and what she did with them – next thing she knew a huge box full of various sizes and colours of buckets arrived at her house together with a note from the proprietor wishing her well and offering the assorted items as a gift. Gülay was stunned and did a bit of crying. She painted up a few buckets and sent them back as a thank you to the ‘stranger’ in İzmir who had ‘not walked by on the other side’. A fellow human being who thanked his own lucky stars and decided to share a little of his own good fortune.
Today, she rang J and me and she was in tears again – we had just been to visit her with another friend to make arrangements with her to exhibit at the Çaliş Christmas Fair next month. After we left a cargo truck arrived with another great box full of buckets together with a note from her ‘Good Samaritan’ in İzmir saying that he often thinks about her and wanted to support her efforts to be productive and independent.
Makes you think, doesn’t it? Next time I’m tempted to carp about crap (interesting that the same letters make two negative words that have the same meaning) service/system/bureaucratic balls/etc I’ll reflect that our Turkish hosts have a lot more to teach us than we have to teach them; including the fact that when it comes to carping, the very best carp kebaps can be found in İznik!
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü