I dare to unearth the Turkey travel guide in their presence. Yes, it is in English and the four old Turkish men are all trying to communicate with me in German, but they can sort out the recommendations from the bolded Turkish names and “yea” or “nay” the full color photos.
Before I could leave the cafe, they wanted to make a final round of suggestions. My notebook was seized from my hands and passed around, scrawled upon. One labored to write with his tongue out and to the side in concentration–Michael Jordan with a pen, perhaps. I sighed with some relief when my prized possession was passed back. Even though all of my notes are in English and I keep my handwriting purposefully rushed and difficult to read, I didn’t want them re-claiming their stories. I had notes about nearly all of them.
But in the end I was glad, as the last five pages of my notebook were coated in names of various must-see Turkish cities, a lesson about how the “ci” suffix works, the exceedingly polite way to order a beer, the alphabet, and a few phone numbers. The most clearly written number came from the most antique man, offering me Turkish lessons and a nice Italian dinner. Mother will be so proud.
I grin all the way to the U-Bahn. It’s only 8:30 pm and seven people are asleep in my train car. Of course, I suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and crack the window. And exit at the next stop. You can take the girl out of her country, but the last few anxieties carry-on.