Hello, dear reader, and welcome to my last episode of The Only Yabancı In The Village.
I’ve never really considered myself anti-social but I have to admit, when the first announcement came that we wrinklies were to be subjected to a 24 hour a day curfew (for our own safety and good) it really didn’t bother me much. The practical issues of life didn’t cross my mind until I realised that in a couple of days I would run out of milk, and, as one who lives alone, I’m used to my own company. ‘I’ll be fine’ I concluded.
Since the curfew wasn’t to start for a day or two I made my way into the village and said my farewells. My mate Şenol, who owns the ironmongers next to the village store, said he would get all my shopping so that was another problem solved.
Day 1 and I woke bright and early, which was just as well because at 8.15 there was a loud rap on my door and there was the village baker. He asked me how many loaves I wanted a day and when I said two he looked rather pointedly at my not inconsiderable belly and nodded. I then had to explain that one was for me and the other would be shared by the 3 street dogs in our lane and that seemed to satisfy him. Yes, dear reader, before I start getting abusive messages, I know that you shouldn’t give bread to dogs but you try telling that to the 3 street dogs in my lane who will happily pin me against the wall and dribble on my shoes whilst looking at the warm bread I have just purchased. Our bakery is owned by the village council and has a wood fired stone oven. The bread is wonderful and apparently the mayor had given a list to the baker of all wrinklies in the village and told him to set up a daily delivery service (I love our mayor!!!).
By day 4 I was in need of a bit of shopping and, good to his word, Şenol turned up with everything on my list and a receipt! He then filled me in with all the recent village gossip and I felt a bit like a treated hernia……. comfortable and well supported!
On day 5 the Zabita came and told me that if I needed money from the ATM he would do that for me and disappeared with my cash card, number and cash request. It’s something I couldn’t imagine doing back in UK but it seemed the most normal thing in the world here in the village.
Then came my first real problem. I needed to transfer some money from my Turkish account to a sterling account in the UK. I knew, from previous experience, that this is a complicated transaction so I phoned the zabita for his advice. He told me he would come over in half an hour and, when he arrived, he was accompanied by a little round man whom I did not know. The zabita introduced him as the assistant manager from my bank in town (he knew what bank I was with from my card!) and had phoned my bank and told them to send someone out. He took all my details, my card and my passport and returned an hour later with printed proof that everything had been done. I don’t know where you stand on governments and so forth in this country but I have to say that the support I was given was way, way, way beyond the call of duty!
I know that a number of people have experienced medical issues during the lockdown and I understand how difficult this can be. For me, the zabita was of untold help. Now, I have no contagious or socially inappropriate diseases but I do take medication daily for blood pressure, circulation and cholesterol. I asked the zabita to pick up my meds – not because I didn’t want Şenol to know what I was taking but simply because the 2 lasses that work in our village eczane have a tendency to chat at some length and, at the end of the day, Şenol has his own shop to run as well as being my on call gopher! It also meant that I was able to discuss with the zabita my leg problems.
In order to maintain circulation etc I am supposed to walk a minimum of two miles a day to prevent my legs swelling to disproportionate proportions. Now, 2 miles is an awful lot of circuits of the living room in my flat! I explained the problem and the zabita immediately gave me permission to walk along the farmers’ lanes late at night and early morning. I was worried about getting caught but he just told me to refer any Jandarme or Police officer to him and he would sort it. As a result, in a short time I could have won the Mr Lovely Legs of Kirklareli competition hands down.
I’m also aware that a lot of people have complained of the psychological effects of being home alone for such a long period. I have to say I have not experienced any such problems and still have deep and meaningful conversations with my fish tank and settee although I will confess that the coffee table has been a lot less chatty of late!
And so, dear friends, I end my random ramblings. Thank you so much to those of you who have been kind enough to message me over the past 6 months and I remain happily and contentedly the only Yabancı in the village. May I take this opportunity, dear reader, to wish you and yours love, joy, health and happiness in the coming year. Happy New Year folks!