Sunday, December 16, 2012

Man on the Ferry

Making myself visible to automobiles by wearing a bright yellow reflective bicycle jacket has its pros and cons. For the positive I think drivers see me better than when I'm dressed all in black. On the flip side, the strangeness of a female dressed in neon yellow and carrying a mountain bike onto the ferry empowers total strangers to strike up a conversation.
Today I met a gentleman probably age or older. He asked me a question about my bike in Turkish and when I replied in Turkish that I don't understand he was not discouraged. He smiled, shortened his sentences, spoke more slowly, and kept at it, trying to converse with a yabanci (foreigner). The conversation was so pleasant. It's common for the Turkish to ask"how much?" "Where did you buy it?" "where are you from,"etc. So, I'm honest and don't bat an eye even though we don't generally talk so freely about money. I'm frustrated with myself because my vocabulary is so lacking. But we managed.

As the ferry pulled away from the port, he pulled out his cell phone and called his daughter in Istanbul. I was eavesdropping (my listening far exceeds my speaking) and I'm pretty sure the conversation went something like this:
"Hi honey. How are you? how's it going? I've met an American. I thought you might like to talk to her."

"Hi dad, I'm fine. What am I supposed to say to her?"

"Well, you could say 'hello.' "

(he passed the phone to me)

So we said hello. And it actually turned out quite well. She lived in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York so her English is quite good. I told her she has a very nice, friendly dad. She agreed that he's never met a stranger (I hope my kids are reading this...Im pretty normal ) Anyway, I've got a name and phone number for a new fried in Istanbul, and I'm once again reminded of the joy in making personal, human connections wherever I am.
The neon yellow attention grabber.

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