So pleasant in fact, I’ll drink the yogurty salt-water
The wikitravel page for Diyarbakir says “(Diyarbakir is) not clean (tons of rubbish on the road) and the state of poorness is extreme. Noearly all the childrens play with toy guns and will very probably shoot at you with plastic bullets. It’s not a pleasant walk.”
Within a few minutes of leaving my hotel to explore the old town, I am surrounded by about 10 children, giggling, shouting “Hello!” and “Photo photo!” The brave ones pose for a photo, and when I show it to them they run away giggling, exactly like they did in Nepal, South Africa, and Ecuador. A couple more sort of drift into the space the photo was taken and take up awkward poses, but are too shy to ask directly.
I feel an American’s uncomfortable feeling when taking more than a picture or two of children, so I drift away, saying “goodbye” and hearing it back en masse. A couple are particularly determined, and a minute later when I stop to take a picture of tiles outside a window, two tiny faces from before appear in the window.
I am about to take their picture when a male voice says something stern inside, and their faces vanish. I hear their giggling receding into the building.
No plastic bullets. Yes, tons of rubbish everywhere, but nevertheless, it is a pleasant walk.
I walk all afternoon, and spend a couple hours in a strip of park in the afternoon shade of the ancient city walls. The park belongs to all ages, with young boys riding bikes, young girls jumping rope, teenage boys lurking around in awkward eagerness, grown men playing backgammon and drinking cai, and old women keeping an eye on the littlest ones.
I have been gorging myself on Turkish breakfasts, but around 5:00 PM I’m ready for some more food, and my first day in Diyarbakir I stopped by a street cart parked under a gate of the city wall, spewing smoke and looking tasty. Gotta love street meat.
The guys grilling the beasts were goofballs, and we had a good conversation despite the not knowing a single word in each other’s languages. Well, a single word each. “Spas” is “Thank you” in Kurdish, and the younger griller knew “chicken”, or rather, “cheek-un.”
That wrap of (I’m assuming) lamb was delicious, and even the ayran, a salty yogurt drink that disgusted K and I in Istanbul, was perfect as the day’s light wound down.
(FYI, I’m guessing the recipe for ayran is: mix a bunch of sour cream into some ocean water. Let sit until it’s nice and tepid. Drink without gagging. Or in that time and place, drink with delight.)
That sounds like wonderful travelling… the children are always the best!
I really like that last picture of the meat guys! Yes… even with the meat in it!
The kid managed to convey with gestures that I should blow that picture up and give it to them as a banner for their stand. I bet if one brought one’s own veggies, they’d chuck them on there for you… 😉
ha ha how did ‘without gagging’ become ‘with delight’ ?!
I know! The powers of the mind, aided sometimes by circumstance, are amazing. Perception works best when you manage to direct it. The same thing happened to me with green olives a few years ago…I thought they were chemical-nasty, until they were in a tajine in the Sahara, at which point they became succulent and delicious.
OOh yes, it is very interesting how perception changes the outcome..
The children sound delightful,
The garbage, truly frighful!
The griller’s wrap of lamb: Yum, Yum
A cup of ayran sounds dumb
But as the end of day grew near
The entertainment value’s clear
I’m glad that no one shot you dead
But drinking “yuck” might work instead.
You write so well – stay safe and enjoy – I certainly enjoy it from this end.
Thank you! I can say the same of yours, although reading about flaky strawberry croissants is a bit of torture when there are none for a few thousand miles… Salud!
OK, well I rarely post about food, so no problem. And I’ll refrain from posting about clean, down-covered beds in cool, dry, quiet places.
Oy vey! Beds that are….clean…quiet…(wistful sigh). I’m just hoping for a shower that’s clean enough to make me consider using it without flip-flops on.
It’s amazing how different days and different people can have such a hugely different experience
I completely agree. It’s one of the many gifts of travel that one’s “normal” perceptions are easy to reevaluate when so much is so new. Have you found that true for the expat experience?
I think the expat experience is seen through a variety of lenses – and these are different for everyone – but often you get the “honeymoon phase” when you first move over, and everything is new and awesome, then the “come-down phase” when you realise nothing is familiar or things that didn’t bother you before suddenly become huge.
Both feelings can really alter how a person perceives a place – I wonder if the person who wrote the Wikitravel article was feeling burned out by their Turkish experience? Or maybe it was a really accurate description of Diyarbakir that day.
After living in Japan, I moved to Germany thinking I’d live there and have a similar, positive experience to Japan. It didn’t work out that way, and I suffered really nasty culture shock for the first time. It’s coloured my memories of Munich, even though it’s a gorgeous city, and I enjoyed travelling in southern Germany, the negative things like rude service, and paying euros for dirty toilets is often what I remember first 😛
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