Thursday, March 13, 2008

Market Day (Five Eggs, Daisies, and a Lunch)

I'm told that Thursday is market day in Istanbul. Sure enough, I hear a clamor on the street this morning and look off my balcony to see a rainbow of fruits and vegetables splayed on a table across the street.

After drinking two cups of coffee and taking a steaming hot bath, I venture out. I know how to say How much? and I don't speak Turkish, sorry. I also have the numbers one through five (bir, iki, üç, dört, beş) and my address written on a sheet of paper, just in case I get lost or get prices all mixed up. I know where the store is, and the now the bakery. I can see the entrance to the market. This will have to be enough to get me by.

Everything here is so beautiful. May I please stay here? I wish I understood more of the scenes around me though. I know, for instance, that people are talking to me and about me. I know people are trying to tell me where their melons come from. I know they're trying to tell me about their lives and their businesses and their families. I miss all of it. I listen and smile, half-heartedly, and repeat the same line a thousand times: I don't speak Turkish, sorry. And suddenly they smile - big toothy grins, and say - I promise - Duetsch?, and point to me.

No, no, American, I say. English.

And they grin again and say, Ah, American. New York?

And again I laugh and say, as hickish as I can, Texas.

And they smile back and say, Ah, Texas.

Everyone knows Texas. Even in Istanbul.

As I buy my tomatoes and pomegranates, they launch back into their floods of gnarled-sounding words and fluid gestures. And I stand there with 5 Turkish Lyra in my hands, waiting for a good time to motion for my bag and repeat, Ne kadar? How much?

The man selling the eggs was the worst but I loved his booth. He had hazelnuts and walnuts and pistachios and cracked one of each for me, holding the nut meats out to me in a dirty, weathered palm. I feared he was about to crack open one of his eggs, too, so I blurted out, beş! (I'll take five!) It was the highest number I could remember. So I bought walnuts and hazelnuts and five eggs. The eggs got their own bag and I cradled them in among the walnuts and wandered around, laughing about the Texan buying FIVE EGGS IN ISTANBUL, until I found a booth of daisies with their roots still on. Then my five eggs, walnuts, pomegranate, tomatoes, apples and daisies and I were on our way to the bakery. It was 1 PM and I was ready for something to eat.

Inside the bakery, I decided on a simit and a round, golden loaf that I thought had cheese in it. (I don't have a sense of smell. Have I ever told y'all that? I can't smell anything and never have. So unless I can taste it, I have no clue what unfamiliar food is.) Anyway, the cheese turned out to be orange rind, but I didn't know that until I sat everything down along a low wall just off the street and settled back against an iron gate to enjoy my lunch.

And as it turned out, I had company. She tried to pretend she was interested in traffic and birds, but she wasn't.

I threw her part of my orange bread and said every Turkish word I knew to her in a really sweet voice. Eventually she came close enough to sit awhile and have lunch with me, there just off the street in Istanbul.

I crumbled the rest of the bread and trailed it around for the cat and her bird friends to have later. And I have to admit, it was one of the best lunches I've had in awhile.

I think we may even have to do it all again tomorrow. Same time, same place.


Kacey said...

I don't remember how I first stumbled upon your blog, but I'm so enjoying the Istanbul posts!

betty r said...

Oh how I am enjoying your journey and your sharing "little windows" of Istanbul with us!

redeemed diva said...

I agree with Kacey. I love your blog. I am currently living vicariously through you. Can't wait to hear about your next adventure.

Anonymous said...
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whimsical said...

tq tq for ur blog.tq 4 sharing ur journey with gives mu undescribable joy to read ur adventure.tq.keep ur the excellent work

Jenny said...

Beautiful! What a treat to enjoy Istanbul through your eyes, Brin!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

These posts have been delicious...just wonderful...the sights, the colors, just wish you could describe the smells.

It appears that you are enjoying your time immensely. Bravo!

karen said...

I love your blog and sharing your Turkish odyssey!

Mrs. JoAnne Mabey said...

I MISS YOU!!! but i am glad you are enjoying yourself- come back whole again eh? i like the partial brin but the whole brin is the best! :)

Rebecca said...

Brin, thank you for sharing your adventure with us. It all sounds so romantic, and I love the pictures.

Did you take your new turkish tote with you? How's it holding up? I'm thinking about having a friend make one for me, from that same pattern.

Lisa in Texas = ) said...

I just wanted to let you know that I am really enjoying your stories of your visit. You make it seem like I am there seeing and hearing what you are! Have a wonderful time!! Lisa in Texas = )

Sissy said...

Oh my. I hadn't checked in awhile because you were out of town and then today there were 3 posts I hadn't read! So glad you took your computer. It's like a vacation without even going anywhere (for us readers, I mean).

I know what you mean about the language barrier. In Greece I was never sure what I was going to get when I ordered, but luckily many menus had pictures!

Rox said...

This is just soo...soooo cool! I love it! I say it everytime, but Thank you for sharing this with us. It is so enjoyable. I can't wait till the next one!!!
Be Safe : )