Absolute charm.

You’re walking down the road – practically running to be honest – on your way to work wishing that your student had cancelled again not that you can afford such luxury. Just a few metres a car stopped, pulling its windows down. Probably another lost soul looking to ask for directions. You remember the times when you used to ask for directions every five metres not that you’d understand anything the people were saying. Turks seem to think that if they repeat something again and again loudly, one will end up understanding what they’re saying. Uh people, that is not how it works. You do consider walking past the car hoping that some other person will come to his rescue. At some point.

It takes a while to realise that the guy is trying to sell you perfumes. You do wonder if you look like the sort of person who can afford buying overpriced perfumes from a stranger sitting in a car on a pretty much deserted street. After a couple of no-thank-you’s even to his quite generous discount, you find yourself dealing with the usual questions people ask whenever they see you. There are times you wonder if you start spicing it up rather than giving your well-rehearsed generic answers.

Where are you from? Where? Oh Africa. You’re a student? Which faculty? Ah. How many years have you been here? Ohhh…

Right, you’re reallly going to be late to work now. Every time you think you’ve finally got rid of him, he’s coming up with another one. People just do not get the hint sometimes. You’re giving him 30 more seconds before you turn around and walk away – to hell with politeness.

Do you have a boyfriend? I enjoyed talking to you very much, can we get to know each other? We can go have coffee sometimes…

You finally register what he’s been saying after he repeats it for the third time, Turkish style. You apologise. Yes you are in a relationship – you’ve long learned to lie with a straight face, especially in such situations. You thank the man for his creepy flattering attention – he drove off before you could even finish your sentence. Charming really. This is hardly the first time. You think back to the time you got asked out in similar fashion at the bus stop after work which prompted you on the first bus that came – fortunately the right one. You still have the number of some guy saved on your phone. You couldn’t get out of that one easily so you just asked him for him number rather than giving him yours. Not that you’re ever calling him. You’ve been asked out more in the past six months than you have in the past five years, which your ego doesn’t exactly dislike though you’d have preferred it to be in a less creep manner. Being a foreigner apparently makes you so much more desirable. Yes you know, it’s your amazing exoting charms. *flips hair*

There are times you do find the curiosity of Turkish people endearing. Despite Ankara being the capital where most of the embassies are found, Ankaranians are still unused to seeing foreigners especially those living away from the city centre. Many a times, you’re stopped on the metro, in cafés and apparently now on the streets for a quick and usually harmless chat. There is this waitress who came up to talk to you the other day to ask if you lived around here and even said she liked your bracelets. Yes, believe it or not, there are times you come across as being quite stylish. Snort. One should see you when you’re drooling on your pillow in your Snoopy PJs. Having lived in a city where public transport etiquette states that eye contact is a no-no, you do admit that it can get uncomfortable sometimes. There are times you wished you didn’t stand out and that they wouldn’t stare. One thing you’ve learned: their notions of privacy and yours are definitely different; it seems normal for a complete stranger to ask where you live, right down to the exact street, without being creepy. You’re still not sure where the boundaries are by Turkish standards. You’ve got one long way to go…


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