The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Misguided Tour

Waiting at the station, she made a quick phone call. “Hi, baby, hi, yeah. Your brother is here, he’s going to take me around today. But he doesn’t actually speak English, you know…No. Not really–” The tram arrived, so she cut the call short and she and her tour guide prepared to board. Her companion was a Turkish boy in knock-off Converse who helped her pile in.  She became noticeably Western in her discomfort in the crowd and contorted her body to achieve small victories of personal space.

Two stops later, passengers departed and he tugged her toward a seat. From his pocket, he unearthed a sheet of paper with various questions and statements in English:

“How are you?” Fine, and you?

“Do you like Istanbul?” Very much, do you?

He didn’t have any replies transcribed, so he went on down the list.  “How did you sleep? Your dress is beautiful.”  She wore jeans, but he complimented her anyway.

She smiled. He read the last item on the English cheat sheet: “I am fine, thank you.” And the silence returned. Any sentences that began “I…Um…How…” ended in vain gesturing and polite glances out the window.

He beamed with a brilliant idea as they crossed the Galata bridge. He showed her pictures on his phone. They could finally exchange information. Mother. Brother. And a girlfriend? He blushed in confirmation. As they approached the Kabataş stop, he let her move ahead toward the door so he could read the time on his phone. She pretended to adjust the sleeves of her jacket and checked her watch. At the station they nodded at each other and began the next part of their wordless afternoon.

-Istanbul, Turkey.

One comment on “Misguided Tour

  1. billduff
    September 8, 2012

    Delightfully awkward exchange – so typical and you have translated it so beautifully. Thank-you.

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This entry was posted on January 27, 2012 by in Europe, Happiness, Travel and tagged , , , .

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