Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday afternoon staff meeting

(Photo of the Girl's Folk Dance Team...nothing to do with the post topic.))
I can't imagine scheduling a two-hour Friday afternoon school staff meeting in America, but here in Turkey nobody seems to bat an eye. So at 4:30 pm, I grabbed a quick glass of chai, trying to avoid falling asleep to the drone of Turkish and then met the staff in the Cinema Salonu (theater).
When the movie began I was pretty excited to see Turkish subtitles and hear some words in English, so I sat up a little taller in my chair. The movie was actually shot in India with the language a combination of Hindi and English so it was fairly understandable. ( Funny thing though...The father seemed to do most of his swearing in English...) Between the language, the good music, and the good acting I was able to understand enough of the movie to be wiping away happy tears at the end
Basically, the story is about a young boy who struggled in school, got very poor grades, came from a very successful, competitive family, and was eventually shipped to a boarding school to "gain some discipline." Luckily for the boy, a loving art teacher recognized dyslexia, spent extra time helping him and encouraging his abilities in art, and helped him gain admittance into an art high school where I'm sure the boy had great success.
The down side to a movie like this is that I feel guilty about my tough week with second grade. Could I have done more? The upside to a movie like this is that it lasted 2 1/2 hours and was good enough to call it my " Friday night date movie" ...(Eric is back in Saudi) so it didn't feel like a staff meeting...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tour bus local style

According to the Rough Guide to Turkey Nemrut Dagi is ranked #2 in the 30 things "not to miss" in Turkey. Therefore, living only 100 km away from this "grandiose mountain-top sanctuary" built by Antiochus I Epiphanes at 2150 meters above sea level (app. 6500 feet), visiting it was on my "to-do" list with Eric. So, last rainy Saturday morning we walked to the tea garden in the center of town in search the tour operator. After questioning a few strangers we were escorted to a platic white table covered with a few Malatya maps and several photocopied sheets explaining the trip to Nemrut. We signed up for the tour and met our fellow backpacker-type tour companions: a retired couple from Belgium who were on 3-month holiday traveling only by hitchhiking and local bus across Georgia, Armenia, and Turkey, two female Japanese law school students on holiday from school, a female message therapist from Iowa, and a couple from Poland whose hobby is studying Middle Eastern history. The common language was a mix of English and German...a nice break for me from Turkish.
We headed to a sketchy van parked across the street. It's road worthiness:a late model Ford van with bald tires, numerous dents and scratches, fading/peeling paint, and metal roof rack to hold our gear. After scanning the tiny size of the interior and the quantiry of our travel companions we both yelled "shotgun." Well, we really didn't yell shot gun, but we pointed to the front seats and jumped in. (Claustrophia and car sickness seemed strong possibilities everywhere except the front. I was the only person to locate and use my seat belt. And, I made mental note of the 435,000 km on the odometer and hoped that the breaks had been checked recently.
After securing our gear on the van's roof, the driver took a quick break for a cigarette, hopped in, ground the gear shift lever into first, and with a honk of his horn pulled into traffic . Our first stop was the gas station. While the attendant pumped, the driver hopped out, gingerly scraped a wet parking ticket off the windshield, and threw it in the trash. Our next stop was the bakery for about 10 loaves of bread.
The quality and age of our transport was soon forgotten once we left Malatya. The scenery gradually shifted from the bald brown mountains similar to Eastern Washington to the lush green hills of the Swiss Alps. Instead of little churches dotting the hillsides and valleys, the minarets of the mosques became the village identifying markers. The road was narrow, with no shoulder or guard rails to protect us from the tight switchbacks winding us higher and higher into the mountains. We made good time as our driver passed all other vehicles whether he could see around a curve or not, politely beeping his horn as we wizzed by.
About 1 1/2 hours later the driver pulled off the road where we stopped at a little cafe for lunch. The food was nondescript but hopefully warm enough to kill any latent bacteria, and the bathrooms were across the street....(need I elaborate?) The rain, by now was pouring down, and we were in a hurry to get to Nimrut before sunset so we hopped back into the muggy, hot, fog laden van and started driving. As I was commenting to Eric that this road is very similar to the Million Dollar Highway outside of Ouray, Colorado, the driver pulled off the road to within inches of the steep edge and pulled out his cell phone. My immediate thought was that this must be the only cell phone zone, because earlier the driver had been chatting up a storm all while passing 18-Wheelers on blind curves. Anyway, after a lengthy conversation he handed the phone to me and said "hotel." Not speaking Turkish, I just said "hello" into the phone. A voice at the other end apologized but said that our van was broken and a new van would arrive in about an hour. The driver pointed to the brakes....Funny thing was that all the drive before lunch I had been watching him pump the brakes just figuring that he must have a new method to save wear and tear on the brake pads. Lo and behold the brake line had actually broken and we were lucky to be alive...
Luckily the wait passed quickly. I had a pleasant conversation getting to know the retired couple from Belgium. (For those of you who think my adventure to Turkey is brave, this couple takes the cake.) They had no itinerary, no set plans other than to start in Georgia and end in Turkey, and no predefined mode of transportation. They were fine with local buses and whoever would pick them up on the side of the road: donkey carts, tractors, cars, etc.
Our replacement van ride to our hotel located at the base of Mt. Nemrut was uneventful but the scenery was spectacular, climbing to about 6000 feet above sea level. Upon arrival at the Gunes Hotel we were told to quickly change or we would miss sunset at the top. The last 12 switchbacks of the climb were on a dirt road, rutted and steep like many of the jeep roads outside of Ouray and Telluride, Colorado. Although our "new" 15 passenger tour van had only 235,000 kilometers on the odometer, it still did not have 4-wheel drive. Not to worry. The driver seemed to know which ruts were shallow enough to keep the van from high-centering, how to shift and not throw too many rocks from under the wheels, and where the boulders were located, even in the dark...
We survived the ride, the temple was worth seeing, and pictures from my camera cannot give justice to the beauty of the sunrise and sunset.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Classroom Management

I seriously need some suggestions on how to handle a group of second grade boys. I have a class of four girls and twelve boys and, after four days, I'm no closer to being in control of the class than I was on the first day. I asked my boss to attend one day, and between the two of us, there was still no control. I told my boss it's a waste of time and money to bring me to Turkey to teach this type of class because they are not getting any English, only discipline. (And not really any of that either)..She agreed but said she had the same problems last year and the principal said she just had to deal with it. But, she did ask the classroom teacher to stay in class for two weeks. The classroom teacher hasn't, but did manage to peek in and have a look yesterday. By that time, I had given up on the boys and focused on the four girls who wanted to learn. Here's the picture she saw:
My back was to the class with the four girls in the corner by the board on the floor trying to sing songs, count, etc. Behind me were the twelve boys jumping off of desks, throwing pencils and erasers, wrestling, making dog piles, tipping out of chairs, running, trying to snap the elastic on the girls' pants, etc. There were about three boys who were hovering around the perimeter of my little circle of girls who were obviously interested in what I was doing, but when invited to join, were too reluctant because of the other boys, and returned to their seats.
Here's what I had tried before she peeked in:
*removing distractions
*simple commands with modeling like "stand" "sit" "zip".
*separating offenders
*changing activities
*movement, large motor activities
*quiet activities
The teacher seemed very non-nonplussed about the entire situation. The boys ran towards their chairs when she stopped by, but she never waited to see if they actually settled down. They didn't.

So, I'm asking all of my blog readers for help. Please!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Random thoughts and observations

I have much upon which to elaborate but little time so I will give a brief window into the thoughts swimming around in my brain...

- Time out chairs don't work for 2nd graders in Turkey. Everyone wants to move to the time out place.
- Trying to keep students from running through the halls is kind of silly when even the teachers race the students in the hallway.
- Today's 2nd grade vocabulary included "pinch", "punch", and "strangle" complete with examples. Then I taught the negative as in "Do not____".
- I've been told that pulling the child's ear often works to get him or her to behave. Not sure I can do that...
- Not speaking Turkish helps a lot when it comes to tattling. A child will come up and rattle off a minute's worth of injustices in Turkish. I just smile kindly and see if I can pick out a word or two...(usually I can't)...Then I just shrug my shoulders and away they scoot. In addition to not understanding WHAT they are saying, I also don't know WHO they talking about. It's easy to not get involved.
- These kids are very physical, touching, pinching, etc, but they are also very tough. I haven't seen any crying or whining.
- At school picnics in America, 5th graders like to set their blankets in little groups spread all around the park. At school picnics in Turkey, the students place all their picnic blankets touching so not a blade of grass is showing. Then newspaper is placed in the center of the blankets to act as a long table cloth.
- Playing basketball with 5th grade boys at recess is a great way to teach English vocabulary and win some desperately needed classroom cooperation. Today we learned "pass", "dribble", "double dribble", "basket"(which I proudly got) and "rebound" which I could actually do because I'm about 6 feet taller than them.
- Saying "anlarmadin" (I don't understand)is not enough to stop my neighbor from carrying on a conversation. He just repeated the same words over and over again like an endless computer programming loop. Smiling is not working anymore either. I need some more vocabulary so I can politely excuse myself from a hopelessly complicated conversation.
- I finally returned three empty plates from my really nice neighbor downstairs and gave her some chocolates in return. Then she went to her kitchen and returned with a plated filled with more cakes and cookies. I think it's a game to keep me stocked with treats. I like this game..
- Eric and I had our first dinner party last night. Two dictionaries, Google translate and a sprinkling of English and we had a great night. I offered Turkish Coffee and then asked our guests to show me how to make it. :)
- I invited the English teachers to my apartment for tea this afternoon. Eric was a delightful host and even spot cleaned the house when I texted him from the bus on the way home to warn him of our arrival.

Finally, I wanted to include scenes from today's recess time. The photo is of the basketball boys who, after the game, bought me a water and introduced me to the school birds.

Monday, September 19, 2011

First Day of School

Today, the first full day of school with students, put new meaning into the phrase "go with the flow". The organization of the day was very different from anything I've seen before. The school van calmly arrived at my front door at 8:20 am. School starts at 8:40 am. The van pulled up to the school at 8:35 a.m. which meant, according to my colleagues, there was still time for a cup of tea before the bell. I passed on the tea, but did take 3 minutes to socialize and then headed outside where the students were lined up by grade and parents were standing around the perimeter, hesitant to say goodbye to their children.

The music teacher led the students in singing their national anthem, a song with a range of notes greater than The Star Spangled Banner plus a few half tones sprinkled in between. Then several students led the entire student body in reciting phrases about being Turkish and working hard. (I'm curious to see what "working hard" means but that will come later.) What struck me the most is the difference between their speaking voices and their "microphone" voices. It feels to me that everyone shouts into the microphone like a drill sergeant with a bunch of new recruits. Even the younger students take this "drill sergeant" approach at the microphone. I will have to research this "style" further.

The rest of the day was spent teaching a couple of classes, (some others were cancelled or scheduled improperly) walking through the halls and saying" hello" to as many students as possible, and trying to figure out the actual "rules". Although running in the halls appeared normal except to me and leaving students unattended in classrooms at many times during the day seemed OK, it is also apparent that the children are highly loved and valued as shown by the large amount of hugging, pinching and kissing of cheeks, and rubbing of heads that occurred during the day. It is delightful to see how many students made an effort to say "hello" and to learn my name.

The last part of the day was the most different from any school at which I've taught. All of the students are provided transportation in one of the thirty-five white 20-passenger tour-type vans. So, at 3:00 p.m. (dismissal is normally at 4:10) students were dismissed by grade to be assigned to a school van (Okul Taksis). 35 drivers wearing blue button-down shirts and ties, congregated in the center of the parking lot and proceeded to call off names of students from handwritten lists. Whenever a driver located a student, he would walk that student to his van, leave the student in the van and return to the center of the parking lot. At 5:00 p.m. (almost two hours since the beginning of this process) the 8th graders were finally called outside and assigned to vans. By this time, the younger children were hot and tired of sitting in the van so many had gotten off and started running in the parking lot. Finally, at 5:10, each driver took his place in his van. Beginning with van #35 and working backwards, each driver drove a children laden van out of the parking lot. The teachers had been instructed that our vans would leave last, so as bus #1 was leaving the parking lot and a student was running behind it to catch his ride, I wondered if we would ever get to leave. Luckily, the driver of #1 slowed down enough for the student to climb aboard and the teachers' van were finally permitted to leave.

Did I mention the best part of the day? ...Kebobs for lunch!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Morning

Eric and I headed out of the apartment at half past nine in search of "Coffee Bucks" the Malatya equivalent of least that what I thought. Strolling down Kanal Bouyu (Canal Street) we noticed every hairdresser and barber shop was open. The liquor store (yes, there are several in town) was open, and the pide stores (warm bread ovens)were baking bread. But, when we arrived at our destination, the light were dim and there were no customers. Strolling at little further we noticed that most of the Kafve Houses were absent of customers. We finally arrived at Moda, a lovely little restaurant where people were enjoying breakfast so we stopped in. I promptly scanned the menu..thank goodness there were pictures...and ordered a Americano. Eric ordered his usual, a double espresso. We both ordered some Turkish breakfast platters. The coffee arrived complete with lots of milk and a cookie, along with our delicious breakfast including two baskets of warm pide, omlettes, pastries, cheese, olives, cucumbers, two scoops of ice cream and baklava for dessert. It was then that I remembered, most Turks drink coffee in the afternoon and tea for breakfast. No wonder Coffee Bucks was closed.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hair Cut

The only thing scarier than uprooting and moving to a new country is uprooting and trying out a new hairdresser. It's bad enough driving across town and suffering the guilt when you run into the previous hair dresser in the super market, but flying half-way across the world and walking into a shop where no one speaks English and where a bride is completely dressed in her wedding regalia and is pacing the floor waiting for the final touches of ringlets to be placed in her friend's hair, and when you have to get a dictionary to remember the word for "sister-in-law" because that's who you supposedly have an appointment with but you don't remember her name but a colleague recommended her, and when you hope the Turkish words for "cut" and "trim" actually apply to hair, and when the first swoop of the razor leads to a 2 inch drop of hair on the that's scary. But my fears were put to rest when the cut was finished..It's not what I'm used to but it will suffice. And, for 5TL or about $3.00, I'm not complaining...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Textile Alley

I need a needle and some thread so tonight I headed to the center of town in search of those items. I was instructed to look behind the big mosque where I would find some fabric shops. Well, after meandering through gold alley and then shoe alley, I finally came upon a gorgeous fabric shop filled with bolts of fabric that I was eager to touch and admire. Unfortunately, I realized that I didn't know the word for needle and the shop owner was standing guard a the door, so I quickly pulled out my dictionary and found the correct word. The shop owner shook her head "no" but walked outside and instructed her brother to walk me in the right direction. Past many for fabric shops(note to self to go back when I have more time)we zigged and zagged until he brought me to the "notions" and "embroidery" shop. I hit gold. For 30 cents I bought large spool of white thread and a package of needles and was treated to a piece of delicious baklava. Surrounding me was the most beautiful beaded embroidery I have ever seen. With the help of my dictionary and a delightful young girl who volunteered that she spoke English, I inquired about lessons and plan to attend a free lesson on Saturday morning in two weeks. Mom, are your ears burning?.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Smart Board Presentation

Today was the best in-service day yet! We had a presentation on a Prometheus Board, and even though the presentation was totally in Turkish and all of the computer commands are totally in Turkish, I think I really understood what was going on. And, I see amazing potential for teaching English as a Foreign Language, or all subjects for that matter! I am so excited to get the opportunity to use this new technology. Even better, supposedly every classroom is getting one of these boards...(At least that's what I think I heard and understood) But, I don't want to get my hopes up because here are some realities:
1) I have been taking my laptop and internet cable into school every day trying to either get a wireless password or connect directly into the wall to get some internet. So far, neither has worked.
2) I can't find any scissors, a ruler, or tape. The only white paper is in the lone copy machine down five flights of stairs. Tomorrow, I will bring my own from home.
3) The only printer for teachers is the same copy machine(down 5 flights of stairs) but so far we haven't been able to make our computers talk to the copy machine.
4) We haven't gotten class lists or a schedules.
5) We don't have books. I think they've been ordered...(At least that's what I think I understood)
On the bright side, the stress level is really low, especially considering how much caffinated tea we drink. Even better, I think I heard and understood that the first week may be orientation for students..Of course, today while waiting for the bus, I had just memorized the words for day, month and year, so maybe the first year is orientation, or maybe the first month is orientation, or....Anyway, I have a few lesson plans ready and that may or may not be enough...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Photos of Malatya

The pink building is my apartment building. I live on the top floor in the two windows on the left.
This a typical round about near my house. The city is a combination of old and very modern.
I took this picture of a typical shopping street during Ramadan. Everyone was still asleep. On a typical afternoon, this sidewalk is almost impassible due to the number of people out walking around.


Today a colleague drove me to Anslatepe or Old Malatya. On the way to the archaeological site,we drove through the village and these villagers let me take their picture.Excavation began on this site in the 1930's when they found this giant stone statue of the King of Melita. There are seven layers of excation dating back 5000 years to the Hittite period. This one site in the Fertile Crescent by the Euphrates River is right at the center of the Ancient Civilations that I studied in 6th grade.. Pretty cool!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Police Station

Greeting me at the door to school today was the head master who informed me, via my translator, (one of the Turkish English teachers) that we had to go to the police station after lunch. I didn't think twice about it until we actually arrived at the police station, a concrete grey structure with an armed police officer casually sporting a machine gun across his chest. Then visions of the movie "Midnight Express" popped into my head and became even sharper as we began the ascent up five flights of stairs. My pulse quickened and my jovial self became somber. The only thing decorating the otherwise stark, cold stairwell, was a lone Turkish pay telephone. I was immediately looking for jail cells and imagining this phone as the "one call home" phone. Granted, I was letting my imagination get the best of me because I was accompanied by the head master, the school manager, and Seda, my translator, and they wouldn't take us all in, would they?...

At the top of the stairs we were ushered into a small office furnished in typical Turkish office style: desk, small table placed in the center front of the large desk and chairs surrounding this desk. Pleasantries were exchanged, hands were shook, and the clerk was sent out for tea. Several minutes later the tea tray filled with hot glasses of tea and a sugar bowl was placed on the small table. A few more minutes of cordial conversation took place, hot tea was sipped, and then, almost like a magic switch was turned on, the conversation got down to brass tacks, so to speak. I could understand very little of the conversation about me, but I know it centered on "Work visa", "How did you find her?","How long will she be here?" and "How is she going to teach English when she doesn't speak Turkish?" (I wonder that myself) but I just smiled and tried to look Mary Poppinish... I am actually curious about how they found me. I know how I found them...

At this point the clerk smiled at me (and I knew I wouldn't be locked away), another clerk took my passport (I hate to let that thing out of my sight), and a third clerk mentioned a number "in American dollars" and 4 passport photos. We all stood up, shook hands, ( I guess we don't kiss the cheeks of officials..but we do everyone else)and descended quickly..time for a smoke..

So, I do not yet have a work visa, but I did go to a lovely photography studio where I drank some more tea, spoke English to the photographer's 5th grade daughter, and left with an 8x10 and 16 passport photos of crooked-toothless-angry smirk that I can't bare to look at. It should be just fine for a work visa.

Monday, September 5, 2011

First Day of Work

9:45 Catch Bus
10:00 Meet and greet about a billion teachers with names I can't pronounce or remember.
10:30 Listen to Head Master speak in Turkish - Thinking to self - I need tea to stay awake I hope I don't need to know any of this.
11:30 Teacher Introductions - Every other teacher."Bir adim _________ blah, blah, blah,.... (followed by applause and laughter) Me: My name is Penny Jansen. Silence followed by the Head Master adding some comments..(I hope they were positive)
11:45 - 12:30 Chit Chat with Teachers (actually, I just smiled and looked bewildered)
12:30 Lunch
1:30 Tea Time
2:00 Tour of the kindergarten building...We had to take off our shoes to keep it clean. They gave me some sandals fit for a tiny Turkish woman. I politely shuffled through the building. (BTW they have the cutest little beds for their afternoon naps.)
2:30 Chit Chat with Teachers and take a cursory glance at a text book.
3:30 Ride the bus home.

Welcoming a Stranger

It was 5:00 pm (17:00) and I was waiting in front of the PTT (post office) where I met Levent  and his smiling wife Ayşe, 19 and 14 year old daughters Nida and Bonu. They greeted me like a long lost friend with a warm hand shake and kisses on both cheeks. I had met Levent the day before on the sidewalk in front of a travel agency where I had been jotting down notes about a direct flight to Frankfurt. (I think I was still contemplating an escape route) Anyway, Levent had offered to help me in his broken English and the next thing I knew we were sipping tea and he was inviting me to dinner with his family. Fast forward twenty-four hours and I found myself squeezed inside a taxi headed towards Levent's home. Immediately I noticed 2 big differences between Levent's home and mine, a clean, well-lit mosaic tiled entry way and an elevator, compared to my dingy, dusty concrete entry elevator.
At the apartment door, we all carefully removed our shoes before crossing the threshold, and I stepped gingerly into the entry way. Ayşe and Levent ushered me into the living room, offered me chocolates, reminded me to sit back, relax, make myself comfortable, etc. So, I did. Conversation was warm and friendly but often stopped by lack of understanding until Nida produced a small computer and set the page to Google translate. Using the computer coupled with Bonu's affable personality and willingness to speak for the rest of the family we were able to have a decent conversation. I learned that Nida graduated from high school and starts university soon. Bonu loves English, Turkish and music (guitar) at wonder I like her so much!..and thinks math is just so so. Both she and her mother think it's great that Ellen plays soccer (football) in college.
Dinner included two traditional dishes, Turkish meat balls and yogurt soup, plus the ever dangerous warm pide bread.
After dinner the cousins and sister-in-law came over...kissing on both cheeks, hugging, saying hello, etc. took up the first five minutes of the conversation and then more chit chat with Google translator followed. Just when I think it's time to go home, nine of us pile into a car the size of a Honda CRV and head to the mall. Ayşe loops her arm in mine and we ride the escalator and parade around the shops together just like all the other couples and friends in the mall.
After more Turkish coffee and tea (I say more because this is tea #7 and coffee #4 for the day for me) at the mall's outdoor cafe, we kiss Nida and her cousin goodbye and we walk home. Levent made me promise to come upstairs after the mall and awaiting me were neighbors with more food, more introductions, and more conversation. By now, I was getting a little tired and full, but luckily Zumi, the neighbor, speaks excellent English and the conversation got much easier. Two meatballs, one baklava, and one more tea later, I thanked my gracious hosts and tried to head home. After much polite refusal I was able to convince my hosts that I had an appointment the next day and would be unable to spend the night. Levent reminded me that I can call him 24 hours a day if I need "anything...anything. anything." I promised I would. He walked me to the bus and made me promise to call him when I got home, which I did.
Now that's what I call welcoming a stranger to dinner

Shopping Involves Tea

My cell phone charger has been overheating with the American adapter so I wanted to purchase a charger that works directly in Turkey's outlets. (I know, hearing about cell phones is getting boring, but this is different. This is more about shopping...and tea...) I stopped into another Turkcell store (there is one about every 300 yards apart in the shopping district) to buy a specific charger. The man asked if I could wait five minutes and have a cup of tea. Oh no, I thought..Does purchasing something simple like a charger require bartering, too?..But, I said, "Sure" even though I'd just finished another tea five minutes before. While the boy was gone I mentally calculated what a charger cost at the Apple Store in Bellevue Square, pulled out my currency converter, and mentally calculated a price I was willing to pay. Then, I sipped my tea, explained pleasantries (combined Turkish/English) and waited. Pretty soon the boy came back. He handed me a charger, but I wanted to make sure it worked. (It didn't). So, the boy left again and came back with another one. (It did.) I finished my tea. The price was below what I was willing to pay, but they did not need to know that. We shook hands and I left with a tea buzz and a charger....

Turkish Ice Cream

On many street corners in most the parks, venders set up shops or little carts with ice cream. The many different flavors are arranged in a case of narrow containers similar to what we might see in a gelato shop. I've put off trying the ice cream because I've been filling myself up with too much pide (warm bread) and not left room for dessert. But tonight, I specifically saved room for ice cream. Being a chocolate fan, I pointed to the chocolate and held up one finger hoping for one scoop. The shop owner said "welcome" and "come" pointing to a special ice cream freezer with copper-topped, dome-shaped lids covering two flavors. With a large paddle to pack the ice cream tight, the owner began his show. First he scooped out vanilla, pretended to hand it to me, but played tricks with the cone while spinning the filled cone right as I would try to grab it. He played this game several times making me laugh out loud. Then he added a scoop of chocolate and played the same game again. Once I had a firm grasp of the cone, he used his paddle to pull out a large glob of vanilla pretending to drop it right in front of me. I went to catch it..another trick...because he was still holding it. Purchasing ice cream here is both entertaining and delicious...

Five Star Dinner at Malatya Prices

Tonight I discovered Yelşin Cafe located in Herriat Park near to my apartment. The open-air cafe decorated with white linen table clothes and velvet purple table runners, illuminated with soft lighting, and surrounded by lush trees gave me both a perfect vantage point for people watching and a delicious meal. After my greeting of "merhaba" (hello) which immediately identifies me as a foreigner, the owner came out with the menu and welcomed me to the restaurant. When he figured out I don't read Turkish, he ushered me back to the kitchen and showed me what he was cooking. I chose a spicy kabob and then he enhanced the meal with some delicious surprises: lentil soup, a chili/gazpacho type side dish, a mixed green salad, and another meat paste (for lack of a better word), warm pide (puffed up pita bread hot out of the oven) and the main kabob plate with thinly sliced onions, grilled jalapeno peppers, and fresh tomatoes. The food was better than any meal I'd eaten in Istanbul (and I had some great ones there) and I made the effort to look up the word delicious "leziz" and tell the owner. We had a brief, yet pleasant conversation of broken English and Turkish. Even more surprising, the bill was a total of 13TL or about $7.41.