Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cultural Quirks

Since it is my second year, and many places I am visiting for the second, third, fourth time, I feel the need to share more of the subtleties of living in a different country. For instance, decor in Turkey is quite different from the U.S. If you go into a furniture store, from an American perspective, everything looks gawdy, flashy, overly ornate, and colors and patterns clash like crazy. At first, I thought the clothing was similarly disturbing. I was so sure during the first week of walking around Ankara that I would never buy one article of clothing here. Now, to warn everyone for my return, I have embraced bright pink shoes that don't match anything I am wearing, and giant colorful belts. I find clothes here fun and full of life and exuberance. The furniture and lamps, however, I'm still not buying. Clothes are a great way to express yourself. However, I don't really want my apartment to express itself to me in a loud, in-your-face-way. I want it to be cozy and warm, and so my apartment has remained a version of my Montana home.

The other night, I came upon another venue of gawdiness which I want to share with you. I went to the store to buy a bouqet of flowers for a Turkish teacher-friend whose brother recently passed away in a car accident. My Turkish is steadily improving, however, I did not know the words for "classy," "tame," and "simple." As a result, my friend, Erin, and I watched as Flower Man Extraordinaire added one fluorescent yellow squiggly stick after another, and just when we thought it couldn't get any uglier, he pulled out the seashells, and then came the pink netting and bows. To finish off, he sprayed the arrangement with "flower smell": what smelled to be a combination of cheap perfume and Windex. It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen (and cut flowers are not cheap in Turkey!). I was sure it would probably depress Kivanc rather than cheer her up so as soon as I got home, I removed all the gawdiness. I have included the before and after pictures, though I really feel like you needed to have experienced the arrangement live in all its glory.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Ahhhh, that turned out much better--nice job. I think that was the biggest "WTF?!!!" moment I've had so far!